On the road to the 2012 polls

Sep 8, 2011

Dili – At the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) headquarter in Dili, Saturnino Babo and Tulia Andrade and 19 other senior STAE staff members are learning how to use communication techniques and tools to pass on electoral information.

In small groups, they and the other students have to quickly brainstorm responses to mock scenarios put to them by the trainers.

The scenarios differ greatly from one to the next in an attempt to simulate the kind of unpredictability the students could face next year, for they are all training to be election facilitators for the upcoming 2012 national elections.

Saturnino and Tulia are attending the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance, and Elections (BRIDGE) course.

The two-week course, run from August 1 to 12 and funded by the European Union, has been brought to Timor-Leste ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

It aims to give each student the fundamentals needed to be a comprehensive election facilitator, coupled with a lot of specific electoral content.

"When we were in groups and preparing all the materials and models, this was very new for me and I feel like it will help me be a good facilitator,” said Tulia.

Throughout the course, Saturnino, Tulia, and all the students will learn facilitation techniques and delve into areas such as electoral administration, media relations, voter registration, strategic and financial planning and ethics.

Aside from technical information, the course aims to bolster the students’ presentation skills by encouraging them to learn from the diverse examples in the course materials, and to build their confidence to be able to choose their own style of facilitation.

For Saturnino, it was particularly beneficial to have ‘’the freedom and the facilities to be flexible – we are encouraged to decide what the best approach and methodology to use is”.

This version of the course is one specifically tailored for Portuguese-speaking countries including Guiné- Bissau, São Tomé, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola and Timor- Leste.

The students must complete a second module later in the year, and follow that up with a certain number of facilitation hours in order to become a fully accredited workshop facilitator.
And this first class seems to be on the right track.

“All of us involved in this kind of course can learn many things, not just from the international facilitators but also from ourselves and colleagues here, and we can get more experience, which is very important,” said Saturnino.