It is an early start to prepare for the 2020 elections but starting early allows not only time for the transfer of electoral knowledge, but also allows to clarify uncertainties. In election operations staff must implement complex activities under tight deadlines. Understanding the rules and regulations are key to success.
Last year the Union Election Commission of Myanmar (UEC) specifically requested International IDEA to support the electoral training of new sub-level commissions, like it was done for the 2017 and 2018 by-elections. Proud to support this activity, International IDEA through the European Union funded STEP Democracy Programme was able to aid with the drafting and printing of the new training manual that contains now 11 modules.
The main modules are covering role and responsibilities of the UEC, the legal framework, code of conduct of political parties, voter registration, submitting and resolving an election objection, advance voting, civic and voter education, voting and counting, announcement of results, do’s and don’ts for polling station staff and gender mainstreaming. Interactive sessions combined with Q&A and icebreakers were introduced.
U Tin Hlaing, Chairperson of the Indaw Township Election Sub-commission mentioned that "This training is the first ever we enjoy as we feel comfortable to learn in a hall that is large enough for all of us. Secondly, I have been working for Indaw township election sub-commission since 2010 and I noticed that teaching methodology is very different from the other workshops and training. We do not need to put much effort to understand the lessons. I would say the set of the lesson plan is short and effective. The teaching style is active, and we involved in role-play activities and had to answer quizzes after each chapter. So, we had fun and all the information related to election comes back to my head very quickly. Lastly, the training manual is excellent. We had to read many books such as electoral laws, electoral by-laws and laws related to Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives) and Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities). So, it is not easy for us to read those books and use as a reference. But, the most useful information related to election is collected and put in this training manual. We do not need to carry so many books anymore because all the important information is included in this training manual. Therefore, please send my gratitude to the stakeholders from International IDEA and EU for their helping hands in support to us."
Following the successful completion of the train of trainers (ToT), this cascade training is reaching out to 2,751 UEC staff. The training will guarantee that all sub-commissions apply the rules and regulations in a uniform way so that the public will continue to have trust in the system. It also aims to support them not just how to do their work, but also why to do it. Working in elections is much more important than just filling in forms correctly, staff also need to model the principles of transparency, professionalism, independence, impartiality and service mindedness because the electoral process will not only be judged by the public on the voter turnout and the results.
It will also be judged by the process itself, how the candidates and voters are being supported when asking for guidance or assistance in the sub-commissions. The training will also aim at transferring knowledge and capacity to national actors and institutions to contribute to the sustainability of Myanmar’s democratic institutions. During the preparation phase UEC and International IDEA staff have worked closely together to get the admin right.
The total 87 cascade trainings are happened in 78 districts from January 14 to February 14, 2020.