The rather different training approach
The participating trainers of this year’s “civic education” project met at the beginning of November for their third training module. The first two modules of the “Training of Trainers” programme were held in Egypt in May and in Bayern in June. The experienced participants then had about four months before the third module to organise their own training courses.
The civic education project strengthens the informal civic education work in the countries of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and is aimed at professional trainers in the domain of civic education. The experienced participants already function as multipliers in NGOs and independent initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. They could all identify with their own personal training approach. They were ready to discuss the topic in a democratic fashion with themselves and the others, in order to better understand the themes of the training course and learn outside the box. The topics included power, identity, and conflict resolution. In the group context of the workshops, the challenges and opportunities of democratic principles, such as tolerance, societal diversity and human rights, could be concretely experienced and perceived in decision-making processes and conflict situations.
The trainers, from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, brought many questions resulting from their experience for the third module, for example: “How far can I go?” “How can I convince more people to come to my training courses” or “How far can I encourage young people to stand up for their rights, when this might bring them into difficulties?”
Neutral and non-judgemental reflectionThe workshop offered the 15 participants plenty of space for reflection on these topics. An important impulse of the German trainer team (comprised of Susanne Ulrich and Florian Wenzel, both from the Centre for Applied Policy Research (CAP) at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich) is also not to limit themselves too much to problems and challenges in the discussions and reflection. “We want to try to see the glass as half-full and to talk about motivation, resources and strengthening,” reports Florian Wenzel, also a trainer of the CAP. And so the trainers had the possibility of creating a little piece of reality themselves. For this purpose, the trainer team used innovative methods such as the appreciative interview, systematic coaching or coaching by colleagues. For Susanne Ulrich, who participated as a colleague, this coaching was a real highlight of the workshop. According to Florian Wenzel, not seeing yourself as “only” an expert is an integral part of the training approach to civic education.
A further important component of the workshop is discussion of your own experiences and behavioural patterns, in a non-judgemental manner. “I thought that I would simply get to know a few new methods and people, but over the training course I learned so much about my own personality and behaviour - and that without being judged,” says participant Safa from the Egyptian organisation Sofaraa Selmiyah. Trust is a key factor for the success of the workshop. A further central element is also that the trainers create an atmosphere of trust in their own training courses.
Intensive exchange of experienceShams, of the Justice and Peace-Building Organization, which works with Syrian refugees, knows how to achieve this confidence-building amongst trainers on the one hand and the participants on the other. In one training course, he encountered tensions within the group. Over the module he was able to discuss in detail his own experiences and problems with his colleagues. “When we look deep into our societies, we see that every society is comprised of a multiplicity of communities. Each community has their own identity, traditions and culture,” says the Egyptian. “Civic education helps us all to learn how to better live together. We can test out and reset our tolerance limits.”
Different contexts with a common coreThe Moroccan participant Abderrazak, from the organisation Tiza, also found it to be a great experience to share the workshops with colleagues from various countries of the region. “That made the course into a real centre of diversity, with different people of different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities,” says Abderrazak. To accept diversity, it is ultimately important to strengthen democracy, societal participation and community spirit.
“Even though we all work in different contexts, there is something that unites us all: we think in the same way and we have the same dreams for our community,” adds the Jordanian Bushra, of the NGO NAYA for Training and Community Development. Now she has good and close friends in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. “And I know that someone will always be there for me if I have a problem in a training course,” relates Bushra, who would like to continue to work as a trainer for civic education themes, at both a national and international level. The participants in the project are aware of the significance of the network that they’ve built, and the value of the network for them both personally and for the strengthening and anchoring of civic education in the MENA region.
The right methods at handParticularly in the first two modules, the newly-learned methods and instruments such as “´theme-centred interaction” helped the trainers in their own training courses. The Egyptian trainer Basher found that the methods for diversity and decision-making assisted him in his work with children. “It’s unbelievable what happens when children learn decision-making competences,” he says with a laugh. “Then they suddenly say that they have the right to take this or that decision themselves,” he adds. As a next step he wants to document and develop a training manual using the progress that the training course (on how civic education can be used in the raising of children) achieved in his social enterprise Greenish.
In her own training course, the Tunisian trainer Syrine combined some methods from the project with instruments she had known previously. Between the second and third module the Tunisian, who alongside her work in the NGO Inno-PEACE also works as a doctor, held a one-and-a-half-day course on identity and diversity. The course was aimed at enabling the participants to get to know and question themselves. The identity of the other participants and diversity were also thematised, for example different kinds of intelligences as an aspect of diversity. “In a further phase, the challenges and dynamics of diversity will be discussed,” relates Syrine. “In theory, it all sounds simple. But when we do practical exercises on the balancing of values and dynamics, we find ourselves once more in a dilemma,’ the Tunisian continues.
Multiplying the training approachesThe trainers from Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco brought along a lot of practical experience to the training course. “Nevertheless, it remains challenging,” remarks Susanne Ulrich, with regard to the qualification of trainers for civic education. “It’s down to the fact that all trainers work in their society with people who would not expect or be used to such types of training,” she continues.
Abderrazak knows that they must all train more people in civic education. In Morocco, in particular, this is however a new experience which is not always accepted. “We have to ensure that more people talk about civic education,” the Moroccan is convinced.
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