|Trainer's Guide for Training of Elected Officials (HABITAT)|
|Part I - Planning for elected leadership training|
Before we concern ourselves with how to use these materials, let's spend a few moments discussing learning requirements that are not covered in this guide. It is impossible in a document of this kind to cover the various rules, regulations, standing orders, and other legislative mandates that regulate the behaviour of councillors and their legislative forums. First, they differ from country to country. Secondly, they are subject to frequent changes. These learning needs are clearly important but the development of training materials to address them must remain a national responsibility. While we cannot provide the text for such training, we can suggest ways to make the delivery of this kind of training more effective.
Most of the training concerns just mentioned relate to what the councillor is required to know, initially, to perform his or her role within the legislated boundaries of the position (as contrasted with developing or improving skills and changing attitudes and values). There are many ways to facilitate and support this kind of learning, including (a) newsletters, (b) short one-day briefings reinforced by take-away fact sheets, (c) use of the public media, including radio, television, and newspapers, and (d) the dissemination of audio and video tapes, if the technology is available to local governments.
What councillors are required to know to abide by laws, rules, and regulations laid down over decades is often difficult to grasp in anything but short, quickly administered doses. Your approach to helping councillors acquire this knowledge should take this factor into consideration. For example, the essential "do's" and "don'ts" of council behaviour, if printed on a small card that fits in the shirt pocket, would probably win rave reviews for the training institution if sent to new councillors, along with a note of congratulations. There are many ways to reach the elected official with information of this kind. If you run out of ideas, we suggest you call a meeting of local media and public relations specialists to help you define an appropriate and effective strategy.
Unfortunately, the kind of information we've been discussing does little to prepare the councillor to be an effective elected leader. The legislated boundaries of the elected role are more apt to say what the elected official cannot do rather than what he or she can do to be responsive to a rapidly changing environment. We're not suggesting that the councillor shouldn't know these aspects of the role. They are important and should be included in training for local elected officials. But there is much more to becoming a competent councillor, and that's what this guide and the related training materials are all about.