Strengthening the Capacity of African Civil Society Organisations though Distance-Learning Training

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Governance and social justice // African civil society organisations face challenges in accessing much needed training to enable them to build a strong civil society. // The purpose of Fahamu’s programme is to strengthen the professional competencies of activists and activist organisations in Africa, building organisational capacity through individual training and development, reaching a constituency that would not normally have access to the resources, training and those who may not be able to take time off to attend any extensive training. // Over the last 10 years, Fahamu has developed and successfully field-tested 13 CD Rom based courses for human rights organisations in Africa. The courses are based on the provision of welldesigned interactive training materials on CDROM with a tutor facilitating the course through email discussions. Once assignments are completed, participants are brought together in a faceto-face conventional workshop, and in the final phase undertake a practical project. Fahamu developed this mode of training following extensive research in southern Africa amongst grassroots organisations on their training needs and the challenges they face in accessing practical, relevant and high quality training. // Since 2005, over 300 organisations assigned staff to participate in Fahamu’s courses, including human rights organisations, churches, grassroots women’s organisations, development organisations, Kenyan police and prison officers, the Rwandan military, UN agencies, youth organisations and private sector organisations from 51 countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The experience of running the courses with such a diverse group of individuals and organisations has brought with it many lessons and given insight into the challenges that civil society organisations face in their strive to build their much needed capacity. // This paper seeks to outline the experiences of Fahamu, the challenges, triumphs and the lessons learned. // Paper ID 325