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close this bookGuide to Developing Training Strategies (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 55 p.)
close this folder2. Objectives of training programmes
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View the document2.1 General objectives of training programmes
View the document2.2 What resources are necessary to achieve the objectives?


What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting rid of diversity and it is of importance that these should not be considered the same. We may wish to abolish conflict but we can not get rid of diversity.

Mary Parker Follett.

As stressed in the previous sections, disaster management, due to its complex nature, is primarily a team operation. Individual skills, expert knowledge and attitudes of disaster managers are fundamental to successful handling of all stages of the disaster continuum. However, the capacity of all the actors of disaster management to act in a co-ordinated manner is ultimately the key to efficient and effective response.

Training in disaster management aims to improve both individual and team performance. Furthermore, it aims to create a medium where sectoral capacities can be enhanced and intersectoral relationships can be developed. An ideal training programme balances individual needs and team tasks as well as improving knowledge and its application. In reality, the expectations of groups to be trained are varied if not in conflict with one another. A governmental department with a high level of technical competence may regard skill development an unnecessary exercise while a local development agency with limited disaster experience can expect training to solve all their problems. It is unrealistic to expect a single type of training to address all these issues. A more realistic approach would be to view training as a series of complementary activities to be implemented over a period of time. These activities should clearly reflect the training needs of the target groups and the general objectives drawn from their identified needs and expectations.

The process of setting planned training objectives should, therefore, address the following issues before the objectives are decided upon:

· what are the targets for change?
· who decides the objectives?
· what are the criteria for selecting the objectives?
· what are the possible objectives?

What are the ‘targets for change’?

When the decision is made that training is necessary, the change targets need to be set. These may include the organisation as a whole, the top management as a unit or the various functional areas such as emergency relief, technical assistance, logistics. In other words, the change targets may well be differentiated by level or by function. There may be some common objectives across all these targets, or the set of objectives for each may be completely different There is nothing wrong with having only one change target such as the organisation as a whole and one objective such as improving co-ordination among various departments, or, with having many. It will depend on the disaster management system and its needs.

The selected objectives should reflect the change targets and the identified needs.

Who decides the objectives?

Most of the time, top management of the organisation or the unit under consideration would like to have the last say. However, it is important that both the top management and those to be trained are made aware of the objectives and share the ideas even if the ultimate decisions might be made by one person, perhaps by you alone.

The objectives need to be shared by all the parties involved in implementing them.

What are the criteria for selecting the objectives?

Measurable - it is absolutely essential that one or more clear measurement areas be applied to every objective selected., If this is not done one will never know whether the objective is achieved! Such objectives as ‘improved communication’ can initially be stated as a general aim. If not defined in training terms, however, they remain unachievable. Does one mean more communication, regular meetings, communication downwards or across?

Measurement areas should define what exactly we do mean by a certain objective. This may be best approached by asking the question: When we have achieved the objective, exactly how will things be different?

Attainable - Often it takes a long time before it is known that the objectives have been achieved. There may be several unanticipated factors affecting their attainability which are often outside the training domain. By investigating the necessary conditions to achieve the set objectives, better informed choices can be made. These conditions may be political, financial, organisational, institutional or personal.

To give a few examples, ask the following questions: Is the objective politically acceptable? Are the financial and human resources available? Will there be any resistance? What kind? Is training alone sufficient to bring about the desirable change?

Cost/benefits - In setting up specific objectives, a question you will frequently be asked by the funders and the high management levels will be the cost of achieving objectives. Training in disaster management will be viewed by many as a waste of valuable resources that could have been used in more visible areas. It will be difficult to quantify the direct benefits likely to be achieved by training. In defining the objectives, highlight the key result areas and the effect of improved performance on these areas.

Priority/sequence - When all objectives seem important and urgent to achieve it is not an easy task to be selective. Available resources and time, political and institutional climate influence the prioritisation of the objectives. Some objectives have to be achieved before others can be started. For example, without raising awareness of the importance of mitigation it will not be possible to aim for technical training in mitigation measures.

One rule of the thumb is not to start with the end-product; it may be good to end with, but not to start Other things come first

What are the possible objectives?

Possible objectives can be many and varied. A comprehensive working list can be a collection of objectives identified through needs analysis, from a review of the past experiences/performances and future plans of an organisation/unit However, time and resources, or staff interest and participation may not always be available to launch an organised assessment. Often training objectives are generated by one person - a top manager, head of a unit a designated trainer or an outside consultant The critical point to remember is that formulating a list of objectives can also become the process of engaging the staff in the idea of training.

Put down as many objectives as you can and ask all involved parties to contribute to a preliminary working list by agreeing, disagreeing and adding more objectives.