Participant Training: Basics, Part 1 and 2
August 17, 2009 – 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
|Presenters:||Ethel Brooks, USAID Office of Education|
Jim Nindel, USAID Office of Education
Ron Raphael, USAID Office of Education
Jeffrey Shahan, Sayres & Associates/USAID Office of Education
Linda Walker, USAID Office of Education
This introductory session provided an overview of participant training policies and best practices, and provided an opportunity for participants from various regions around the world to discuss working conditions in their countries. Participants gave synopses of participant training in their Missions and stressed their desire to attain a greater understanding of the technicalities and terminologies within this sector. Presenters explained that each day the participant training group would focus on specific aspects of participant training regulations in order to ensure participants receive all the necessary information and have ample opportunity to have all of their questions answered.
Noting that participant training has faced many challenges, presenters discussed programs that have been widely commended, such as the Community Connections program. Efforts to replicate this program in other regions are currently under consideration. Fundamental to the success of any such program is participants’ ability to form good working relationships with the participant training coordinator in their Mission, as well as the contracting officer as they review and endorse their training scopes of work. Presenters also reemphasized the importance of improving program monitoring and evaluation.
The second part of this session focused on the new ADS policy for training and various performance factors including: information, resources, incentives, skills and knowledge, capacity and motives. Among the performance factors, “skills and knowledge” was determined to be the factor that bridges performance gaps. Thus, when a problem stems from a lack of skills and knowledge, training should be used. Training plans were also discussed which revealed a consensus among participants that such plans are particularly important for the sponsoring unit, usually Washington, with marginal benefits for the implementers. The USAID Office of Education is working on creating a template for training plans. Training interventions were also discussed, focusing on in-country training. One of the main concerns regarding training interventions was the selection of participants and their eligibility. The cost-tracking categories—instruction, participant’s fee and travel—were also extensively discussed.
Key take away points of these sessions included the importance of building positive relationships with key Mission staff, in addition to the new ADS policy on training and performance factors. By the end of the session, participants agreed that TraiNet must be used for any in-country training (ICT) that consists of two or more consecutive classes or that takes more than 16 contact hours. Participants also identified some remaining issues related to ICT which required further discussion: (i) counting people selected for multiple in-country training programs—currently, each person is counted multiple times thus causing the number of people trained to be misleading, and (ii) how to define biographical information—pros and cons of using sign in sheets, or other methods to collect biographical information.