IEC launches academy to train elections staff


The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has launched an academy to equip election staff with skills necessary to run successful, free and fair elections.

Launched in Kempton Park, Johannesburg recently, the "Centre for Elections Learning" aims to build permanent capacity to run future elections; to ensure the establishment of elections as a field of serious study and to create an elections-training curriculum.

"There has been national and international recognition of election management as a specialised field of training requiring considered and sustained efforts. Internationally organisations concerned with elections have begun investing in training courses and curricula to support capacity development," said the IEC.

It said in South Africa, various training models had been tried during elections "in striving to find the right balance for training within the IEC's organisational structure".

The IEC said the nine nationally accepted statements of competency (unit standards) on election management and administration that were registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) meant that the foundation stones had been laid on which to build a world-class facility.

Yesterday also saw the launch of the "train-the-facilitator" boot camp to train 315 carefully selected trainers from across the country who possessed the "right collection of skills that would make them good trainers," said the IEC.

"Key emphasis was placed on previous elections experience that they would have picked up [with the IEC]. Once they were identified, they attended an orientation workshop where they were introduced to the key components of their development, namely on-line learning and the preparations for the boot camp," the IEC said.

Next month, the facilitators will train the 57 000 election staff who will be working at voting stations on voter registration day, 3 September, as well as during the local government elections 2005/06, the date of which is yet to be announced.

During the boot camp each trainer is given a Training Toolkit consisting of two learning programmes - one on registration and one on facilitation.

"Each programme consists of a learning guide as well as a CD containing an on-line learning module. Trainers had to work through each programme on an IEC computer and are required to have achieved a set score on the assessments for this programme.

"Besides these computer-based learning modules, they then also had to provide further evidence that they knew how the barcode scanner works that is used during registration, as well as compile a schedule for their training events," the IEC said.

It said the preparations would ensure that the trainers were fully equipped with the theoretical content knowledge to conduct the training.

By David Masango - BuaNews