|Promoting Organized Self-help through Co-operative Modes of Participation (HABITAT, 1984, 61 p.)|
|Part three the organization of training programmes|
In the Lusaka Urban Project (see case studies under requirement 5 and problem area 3), the training of the assistant community development officers (ACDOs) who would be employed by the Housing Project Unit (HPU) of the Lusaka City Council was the joint responsibility of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In theory, the AFSC was reponsible for classroom training, but, in practice, it took on substantial responsibility for field training as well. In co-operation with the Urban Community Development Staff Training College (UCDSTC) in Kitwe, the UNICEF consultant was to be a "trainer of trainers", instructing prospective ACDOs in the approaches required to motivate community participation. The AFSC consultant was to supervise the training in community organizing in Chawama.
The training programme was in response to a shortage of suitable community development personnel, a shortage identified in the project preparatory stage. The Department of Community Development, created by the Government in 1962, trained community development workers for urban and rural programmes, but the programmes were mainly carried out for rural health schemes, agricultural settlement projects, farming co-operatives and sites-and-services schemes, and the workers were trained for a specific role and method of approach. The role of community-development workers in squatter-settlement upgrading projects, however, required a different orientation - i.e., community organization, group work and stimulation of maximum self-help efforts.
The committee that selected the trainees for the job of assistant community development officer chose not to require rigid educational qualifications but considered previous experience and commitment to community participation as the trainees' important attributes. A few trainees were sent by the local authorities of other provinces, so that other areas could learn from the Lusaka upgrading experience.
The classroom training used "nondirective methods" which were introduced by the UNICEF consultant and two AFSC staff members. Such methods were thought to tee the most likely to produce the kind of community development worker needed for the upgrading project.
The trainer who uses the nondirective method does not attempt to decide for the trainees, or to lead, guide or persuade them to accept any of his own conclusions about what is good for them. He persuades the trainees to decide for themselves what their learning needs are; what, if anything, they are willing to do in order to meet them; and how they can best organize, plan and act to carry out what they have learned.
Under the nondirective method, the trainees were to be convinced that the trainers did not always possess the best ideas. It was hoped that residents of upgraded areas, after training, would have increased self-confidence when working with the community development trainees. Although there was an initial willingness to go along with such an approach learning, there was also some scepticism resistance, and expressed dependency on the familiar lecture method of learning. The trainers made themselves available during evenings for consultations, but trainees never used the eveing sessions except near examination time. Other scheduled non-classroom time included monthly interviews where trainees were encouraged to give honest feedback about the programme - and weekly tutorial discussions, where the trainees broke up into four groups under two trainers each. Weekly trips to the Mindolo Library were also scheduled, although many trainees avoided participating.
The success of the nondirective approach elsewhere did not guarantee its success in Zambia. One reality that had to be taken into account was the mix of social and ethnic backgrounds present in the training sessions. Although Zambians of different backgrounds had mixed before, the training programme required intimate acquaintance. Prejudice between ethnic groups came out in discussions and made trainees reluctant to comment on other trainees' ideas, and lack of mutual comment and criticism undermined the very basis of the nondirective approach. There were also problems between those who attended urban secondary schools and those who attended rural secondary schools. Some urban trainees called the trainees from rural areas "villagers", meaning backward, illiterate, unsophisticated persons.
However, the nondirective approach gradually dispelled tensions and stereotypes, as the trainees were forced to work together and learn from one another. The concept of working in groups also improved relationships and encouraged team spirit. Trainees debated Zambian politics and culture, often quite heatedly. The definition of Zambian culture was especially important when discussing development, because certain development ideas were said to be against Zambian culture - a term no two trainees agreed on. For example, it is against tradition for young people to argue or question their elders, but it was observed that, while that might be of advantage for the elders, there was a danger that it might produce obedient servants who were good implementers but bad planners.
For their field training, ACDO trainees were assigned to work with AFSC and HPU community development staff in the Chawama demonstration phase of the project. Most of the staff members had gained their community-development experience in the AFSC Kafue project (see the case studies under problem areas 1 and 2). Together with the staff, the ACDO trainees organized community meetings to explain the essential provisions of the project - the contributions and responsibilities of the HPU and the obligations of the participants. Personal discussion with squatters - either one-to-one conversations or small-group discusssion - was an important part of the project organization and ACDO training, since it permitted contributions from prospective participants to be incorporated into the design of the emerging project. The house-by-house, person-by-person approach was something new for the squatters, who were accustomed to community-development personnel who worked in downtown offices and tended to wait for the people to come to them.
The first group of trainees had more limited exposure to the field training than was planned. Chawama was already in the relocation phase, after the road planning group had earlier decided on the overall layout, and speedy relocation was essential if the contractors were to start work in time to meet the previously determined disbursement schedule. As a result, the trainees learned a great deal about relocating families affected by the installation of roads and pipelines, and proved themselves adept at organizing relocation in other areas later in the project. However, they gained little experience on how to undertake road planning as a co-operative activity. The tight schedule also meant that trainees had little time to consider other aspects of community development, notably the social services elements. The training staff did try to provide the trainees with other types of experiences, such as organizing women's clubs and sports activities, but the pressure of the relocation exercise limited those experiences to very few.
Despite the drawbacks, the ACDOs who graduated from the special training programme learned how to stimulate community participation, which was essential for the upgrading process. They were much better oriented to that approach than were the Lusaka City Council community development staff members whose training had focused on the traditional "from the top down" approach. Ultimately, the attitude and approach which the trainers and supervisors conveyed had a far greater impact on the learning experience than did the specific tasks the trainees were assigned to carry out.
* Based on Marja Hoek-Smit, "Community participation in squatter upgrading in Zambia", 1982.