STRENGTHENING INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS THROUGH PEER LEARNING

On the 15th and 16th June, 2017; Perl-DFID brought together five MDAs including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media at FABS Hotel, Zaria, for the Kaduna State Corporate Planning Experience and Learning Lessons Workshop. The MDAs in attendance included: Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Ministry of Rural & Community Development (KDMoRCD), Ministry of Budget & Planning (MoBP)/Budget & Planning Commission, Kaduna State House of Assembly Service Commission, and State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (SPHCDA).

The objectives of the workshop are: To share experiences and lessons for Public Sector reforms with MDAs and other partners; To foster ownership of institutional reforms through participant peer-learning; To generate evidence to improve institutional reforms that may be utilized for both vertical and horizontal learning.

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Day one witnessed workshop expectation sharing by participants. The CSOs and media were carried along by being updated on Corporate Planning (CP) – a process in which an organization examines its mandate, vision and mission statement, determine its objectives, priority, structures and functions in the light of its mandate and determine how to organize and apply its resources (human, financial and equipments) to achieve its objectives and meet its service delivery standards and targets.

CP also guides the management and staff of the organization in a cohesive effort to carryout its mandate. Furthermore, it is a review and reorganization process usually carried out in response to a recognized need or desire for change. The CP framework includes clarity of mandate, defining long term strategic objectives, carry out functional review, realign functions and departmental objectives, prepare Establishment plan. The segment was concluded by outlining the key areas to pay attention to during the experiences and learning process. This was done to support CSOs and media engagement during the group task and also in understanding the process.

Five groups according to the participating MDAs were clustered and given tasks to reflect on their experiences and lessons learnt during the CP implementation process. Guide for group reflection was given to each MDA cluster group- Each group to appoint Secretary and Chairperson; Give overview of CP process in their MDAs; Stage of CP process implementation; Success story and why; Challenges and why; How challenges can be addressed/Next steps; What has been learnt/experienced in the process.

The participating CSOs and media were shared into the five MDA groups. CALPED a CSO was sent into the Ministry of Rural & Community Development group. At the level of CP implementation, the KDMoRCD have – Cascaded the CP process; Screening exercise for Staff to determine surplus Establishment; Workshop for Community Development Officers (CDOs); Procured and provided working tools and materials; Moving the Cooperative Department from the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry (MoAF) to the KDMoRCD.

Some of the successes recorded includes: Assigned job description for Staff; Provision of working tools and materials; Implementation of some aspect of its communication strategy; Output of Staff has significantly improved; Improved level of implementation and scale-up of the Pampaida project in three communities. While challenges were enumerated as follows: Capacity gap; Reluctance to adapt to reforms; Need for more technical Staff; Not adhering to due process.

On how to address these challenges they suggested – Regular capacity building; Recruitment of new technical personnel; and Sensitization. As for the lessons learnt they identified – Teamwork works; Time management is key; Staff motivation is key to progress.

After the group task , everyone regrouped into plenary and the group representatives made presentations in the following order – House of Assembly Service Commission, KDMoRCD, MoBP, SPHCDA and BPSR. There was an opportunity for question and answer. CALPED asked KDMoRCD two questions during this session – How do you incorporate citizen’s concerns as an input in CP and is there a mechanism to report back if this concerns were taken into consideration or not?; The KDMoRCD use to register Community based groups, with the moving of the Cooperative Department, has the registration been merged or is the registration conducted differently by the Ministry?

Afterwards, there was a presentation on Managing Change; the objectives of which are: Understanding the key principles of Change Management; Prepare employees for Change. Issues addressed includes: Managing communication; A plan without funding is hallucination; Implement, Sustain and Embed Change; Managing change disruption; Change Manager/Agent. This brought about the end of Day One.

Day two commenced by participant’s reflecting on Day One engagement. This was followed by Collaborative Learning. During this session there was a long discussion on the fact that CP has not been captured as a budget line item, which makes funding a huge challenge. Some of the reoccurring challenges identified in all the groups included : Funding; Time; Weak Capacity; Resistance to change; Lack of understanding of the CP process; and Poor communication.

As regards Learning Guide the following were identified – Learning week, topic base, lead officer and presentation ( Reform proposal – In- house training, weekly meetings, and step down trainings). This was followed by Learning and Adaptation. This was defined to be a process of reflecting on experiences and selecting new programmes implementation approaches. It requires a willingness to experience based upon a work in progress attitude.

Issues around Learning that were identified includes: Intentional or unintentional occurrence; Occurrence that trigger an initiative; Positive and negative results, adds value, results in change in attitude, leading to achievement or a failure. Learning focus was also discussed.

Adaptation was then defined as a decision-making process where good practises and lessons are learnt and further strategies are developed to achieve programme goal. That is to use what works best and improve on what could have been done differently informs, scale-up or scale-down programming. The Steps to take includes: Adapt, Partner, Engage, Reform, Learn and Adapt. This process should be continuous and repetitive.

A presentation was then done on Knowledge Management (KM); to achieve the following objectives: To understand and define KM; Learn about explicit and tacit knowledge. KM was defined as the facts, feelings or experiences known by a person or group of people. The various Stages of KM include: Data collection, Collate and Presentation, Analyze, Interpret, and Judge meaning of Findings.

KM is also a systematic approach to generating and recording information and making it available to others when they need it, in formats that are useful and relevant. Knowledge sharing is the effective exchange of useful information between different people. While a learning organization facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transform itself.

Issue discussed around KM tools includes: The transfer of an idea from one domain to another; Can lead to creative ideas; Create shared meaning- ideas people can relate with; Beware of retrenched mindset.

Tacit knowledge was simply defined as the knowledge that people carry in their head. While Explicit knowledge was defined as the knowledge that can be captured and recorded or written in documents or database. Also distributed to participants was the KM cycle which included: Knowledge creation – Knowledge capture – Knowledge storage – Knowledge sharing – Knowledge application.

In conclusion, it was agreed that for any transformation to happen, you have to manage knowledge. In any organization, the emphasis should be on how to store information/knowledge.

In rounding up Day Two a number of next steps were identified by the participants. In summary they included: Knowledge sharing should be extended to CSOs; the media should interface with the BPSR; BPSR should share the guidelines to MDAs for accessing CP support; MDAs should ensure the implementation of the CP process; KM centre of BPSR should interface with MDAs on CP; BPSR to develop feedback mechanism on the CP process; MDAs should take ownership of the CP process; Media should highlight the CP reforms in their programmes; BPSR should lead in sensitization of MDAs Staff on CP; Principal Officers should include sensitization in their action-plan; and BPSR should follow-up on progress. Also included in the next steps was the timeframe for each activity.

The two day workshop was wrapped up and the participant departed.

CALPED in the course of the workshop made the following observation: That the Kaduna State Government is more reform-minded towards repositioning service delivery for improved livelihood for its citizens; Perl/DFID interventions in Kaduna State is fast yielding significant results through supporting institutional reforms; Strengthening the capacity of BPSR to drive the process is the right step in the right direction in institutionalizing and sustaining the CP culture; More needs to be done in entrenching CP due to reluctance of public servants to change or to go outside their comfort zone; There is very limited participation of CSOs and Media in the MDAs CP process, which has the potential to make the process not sensitive to the needs of citizens especially as regards service delivery.

To conclude, a number of recommendation will be apt: All cadre of the Staff in the various MDAs should be carried along in capacity building and not just during sensitization, to ensure ownership and sustainability; The CP process should be implemented in all the MDAs to strengthen synergy and shared vision; Annually a budget line item should be created for CP in all the MDAs; The CSOs and media should be carried along in the MDAs internal CP process not just during experience sharing/lesson learning workshop to strengthen their engagements; Institutional or legal framework should be put in place to guide against policy Summersault/inconsistency.

It was a great a learning experience for the CSOs and media, and this will surely strengthen and make our engagements more constructive to the benefit of the citizens of Kaduna State. Special thanks goes to Perl/DFID for the opportunity to participate.

Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development
(CALPED)



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