Last Mile Learning Sneak Preview

Posted by Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Director of Membership & Communications

Reaching the workers on the front-lines of development can be challenging. They are the ones doing the hard, sometimes dangerous work that development and humanitarian relief organizations are known for. The good people at the “Last Mile” work in remote communities, sometimes informally, often without electricity and internet. They often lack opportunities to build their skills and to effectively share their experience and wisdom with others who need to know it. It’s often impossible for the Last Milers to get training or learning that would allow them to advance their careers and to more effectively achieve their mission.

Last week, Kenyan Development and Humanitarian Relief workers had an opportunity to get a “sneak peak” at some of the Last Mile Learning resources under development. The workshop was in Nairobi, so we did not manage to reach the last mile, but had some great input from “Mid Milers.”

We had a chance to try out some of the face-to-face training materials that are being developed by teams of volunteers working with member agencies to see how the format and materials work, and the participants kindly shared some of their thoughts and guidance on Last Mile Learning adoption.

Roger Steele and I worked with “sell-out” crowds at the free workshops and focus groups on July 10 and 11. It was wonderful to get to meet some of the field staff of member organizations as well as folks from many other organizations and institutions.

In addition to the sneak peak at the Coaching resource and some project management tools, we met with a number of other organizations and institutions about Last Mile Learning. There’s lots of enthusiasm for what’s to come.

Please visit the Last Mile Learning website to learn more. LINGOs Members will hear more about Last Mile Learning at the Member Meeting (Nov 28-29 in Washington, DC) — See most recent post on this blog for more information.

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What’s Project Management Training Got to do with International Women’s Day?

Posted by John Cropper, LINGOs Director of Project Services

“It’s so great that you could do this training in Kotido (Northern Uganda) whenever there is any training, it is in Kampala and we can never go.”

A recent male partcipant said this to me after a PMDPro workshop in February (PMD Pro is the contextualised Project Management certification, developed with experts from several of the world’s best-known and highly regarded non-governmental organisations).

Downtown Kotido, Uganda, 2012. Photo: John Cropper

What this has to do with Internatonal Women’s Day is a very good question. Let me explain.

So much learning in NGOs is still focused on stopping all work, flying (often to another country), sitting in a hotel for week and then flying back. Guess who this training gets focused on?

That’s right – junior staff never get a look in. You need to be in some kind of “senior” category before it’s decided that you are important enough to be flown around and put up in a nice hotel somewhere – and who makes up the senior staff? You got it again – mostly men.

Yet, but and however – these senior staff are not actually the ones implementing projects on the ground! So, again and again we see the people who most need top boost project management skills through training being squeezed out. And given the realities in many countries (developed world included), when a woman is senior enough to be considered for training opportunities that involve travel – she may not be able to leave family responsibilities behind. Obstacles all the way.

This is why an initiative LINGOs is piloting with Oxfam GB in East Africa is so interesting. We are running PMDPro training in three countries: Uganda (hence the visit to Kotido), Ethiopia and Tanzania.

  • Uganda gets traditional NGO learning. Trainer rocks up, training happens, trainer leaves and application of learning to actual projects is in the hands of the Gods.
  • Ethiopia gets face-to-face training plus virtual learning – let’s see what difference this makes to application.
  • Tanzania is by the far the most interesting as the approach will be both 100% virtual and take 3 hours per week – so people can fit learning in around their other commitments.

This is where it gets interesting. In Uganda, 20% of partcipants were women. In Ethiopia, 32% were women (teams travelled to Addis for the training). In Tanzania, we will have just over 50% female partcipants. To be fair, Oxfam is still finalising the participant list – but what a difference!

So,  if your agency really values women: plan to  cut back on the travel, reduce your  carbon footprint and subsidies to the airlines, expand your focus from train on senior managers and start virtual learning! PMD Pro – just do it! – but do it virtually wherever possible! Take a first step on March 8.

More LINGOs blogs will follow up on this really interesting experiment.

     

For More information on PMD Pro

See what’s happening with PM work in Latin America – virtually and face to face through the Gepal Project

Watch the Gepal Video