Vol 1, Issue 1, September 2013
Building Resources in Democracy and Governance (BRIDGE) Train-the-Facilitator
From 22 July to 3 August, the Union Election Commission (UEC) held a Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) train the facilitator workshop in Naypyitaw, which was facilitated by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This was the first BRIDGE training in Myanmar. Participants included newly-recruited UEC staff, who are all female teachers seconded from the Ministry of Education; a representative from the Myanmar Independent Living Institute, a disability rights organization; and six national UEC staff who will form the basis of the new Training and Voter Education Department.
After the training, participants were ready to apply techniques they had learned in the BRIDGE workshop during training for the UEC, as well as in their classrooms. This train the facilitator workshop established a gender-balanced and regionally-diverse core group of facilitators to build the foundation for future modules on key interest areas for the UEC, as well as cascade operational training. “This experience was very meaningful for me,” said Sai Kyaw Thu, a participant from the UEC. “There are many changes in politics, economics and peace building in Myanmar. In this political transition process, we are still trying to be a strong democratized country. The election is one of the inevitable steps for this democratization process.” The UEC Chairman U Tin Aye provided opening and closing remarks for the program. The opening ceremony and closing ceremony were both covered in the New Light of Myanmar as well as on MRTV (Myanmar State Television).
At the request of the UEC, IFES conducted an IT assessment of the UEC to gauge the baseline of current IT infrastructure and make recommendations for modernization. From 1-5 July, IFES Election IT Specialist Michael Burke was deployed to Myanmar to work with the UEC to conduct an IT assessment in preparation for the 2015 elections and as part of the initial strategic planning. To facilitate the assessment, the UEC identified its most skilled IT staff to work with IFES staff through a series of discussions that reviewed different aspects of election IT management. The group reviewed election and organization IT projects, management and capacity concerns, basic system architecture and support, and the technologies and tools an IT department must rely on to develop resilient, sustainable election systems. Through these discussions the group developed a foundation for the UEC to establish its own IT department. At the conclusion of IFES’ presentation of the assessment preliminary findings, the UEC agreed to establish a full time UEC IT unit to begin work immediately and granted them a new IT office inside the UEC.
Strategic planning is key to a successful electoral process. The Union Election Commission has begun the strategic planning process after a workshop held in mid-June 18-19. The strategic planning process follows the outline detailed in IFES’ Strategic Planning for Effective Electoral Management, which has helped election commissions around the world create practical plans for well-run elections.
The UEC has formed a strategic planning committee facilitated by IFES with the goal of producing a five-year strategic plan over a four to six month period. The plan includes detailed goals and principles; work plans with clear responsibilities for each department; and budget estimates and other tools to monitor and evaluate the UEC’s performance in implementing the plan. This plan will be shared with external stakeholders to solicit and incorporate feedback during the process before it is finalized. The UEC aims to complete and publish the plan by December 2013.