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Part II - Training of trainers on participatory local development

Participatory training methods

The recognition of the benefits of participatory local development planning has engendered changes in the needs, concepts, approaches, techniques, the general conduct of and ways of measuring the effectiveness of training. This has led to a number of innovations, including a shift from instructional to interactive to the greater use of a participatory approach in training.

The conventional approach of ‘giving’ in a training situation is being gradually replaced by ‘sharing’, ‘learning together’ or acting as a ‘facilitator’ (See Annex II). The role of a facilitator is to encourage participation without being judgmental and by listening with interest and empathy to help the trainees (participants) to tap into the reservoir of their own abilities gained through their experiences. This is known as the ‘participatory approach’ having a strong content of interaction.

Training that aspires to promote stakeholder participation in local development planning must use participatory methods in its design, context and conduct. It should

  1. bring about changes in attitudes, behaviour and functioning of various governmental and non-governmental development functionaries and elected representatives through a change in their perception of the abilities and needs of rural people;
  2. change attitudes and behaviour of rural people through empowerment by a) arming them with the information to take right decisions, and b) equipping them with the skills/means to implement these;
  3. be need-based, a continuous process, an integral part of any development strategy and include institutional development; and
  4. be able to measure progress against identified key indicators and goals.

The trainer should judiciously assume the role of a facilitator/catalyst; facilitating the trainees/participants to effectively use their knowledge/skills and experience for solving development problems.

This is also in keeping with the changing perceptions of rural development as reflected in the Eighth and Ninth Five Year Plans as well as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment and innovative decentralization of rural development efforts such as Janmabhoomi in Andhra Pradesh.

Training needs assessment (TNA)

An assessment of training needs for participatory local development must take into account rural development programmes and strategies, organizational culture and functioning of the decision-making process, in particular the attitudes, behaviour and local livelihood conditions and needs of rural people concerned.

TNA provides answers to the following:

Table 2.1 TNA for capacity-building on main local development activities at each PRI level

Zilla Parishad (District)

Blocks (Mandal Parishad)

Gram Panchayat (village level)

Collection of data and dissemination of information

Implementation of rural development programmes in collaboration with panchayats, NGOs and other local-level institutions

Resource planning through preparation of an inventory of human, physical and natural resources and assets available in the village

Consolidation of plans of action of the Blocks within the district

Propagation of improved methods of cultivation

Assessment of their potential for development, cost and technical support needed for exploiting the potential.

Distribution of funds to Blocks or Mandals

Improvement of livestock and establishing minor veterinary dispensaries,

Preparation of village development plan

Examination and approval of their budgets.

Expansion and maintenance of medical and health services and elementary education

Active involvement in plan implementation and monitoring

Identification of stakeholders

The stakeholders to be trained at district, sub-district, block (or Mandal or Taluk) and village levels are:

  1. senior state government officials responsible for local development planning;
  2. PRI members, including Gram Panchayat elected officials and the Sarpanch at village level;
  3. new entrants, especially women and those from weaker sections elected under the one-third quota provided by the 73rd Constitution Amendment;
  4. functionaries of government line departments; and
  5. representatives of NGOs/CBOs/SHGs/media.

The training can be to upgrade skills and refresher courses; pre-posting and refresher courses for higher level central and state officials; specially for certain implementing staff of various rural development programmes; refresher courses for new entrants to political parties; special courses run by different government agencies/institutions for women and functionaries from other weaker social sections; or run by NGOs for their staff, representatives of other NGOs and for self-help groups of women, other weaker sections and youth.

Training of PRI officials is a big challenge because of the vast and varied nature of local needs and situations. Training courses can be i) pre-service training; ii) orientation training; iii) induction training, iv) in-service training; v) on-the-job training; and vi) refresher training/orientation. These can be residential programmes in training institutions or on-the-job, conducted by mobile training units. Women who are unable to leave family responsibilities need training within the home environment. Adult/non-formal education, health, nutrition and hygiene programmes for women, are examples of mobile training where training facilities go to the trainees instead of the other way round.


Residential training programmes on theory and practice have the advantage of giving the trainees confidence and time for self-assessment in terms of peer values and help in attitude-building and behavioural change.


This training is geared to the needs of marginalized social groups who need special attention for mainstream integration, e.g. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India.


Women in most developing countries are now recognized as an important part of decision making in society and are being mobilized to participate in development. This has given them newer roles and functions, generating the need for new capacity-building programmes. Women are also actively involved in political administration and need to be specially trained for their new roles and responsibilities.

For instance, a large number of women, on being elected as Panchayati Raj representatives, have a crucial role in the grassroots decision-making process. Gender-specific training is essential to develop and nurture potential skills in women for their successful integration into the development process.

Capacity-building areas for training

Capacity-building areas for training of trainers on participatory local development, which have been identified on the basis of the assessment of training needs of PRI council members, government officials, NGOs and CBOs are: i) advocacy/promotion/learning; ii) social mobilization/participation; iii) local leadership; iv) social development/gender issues; v) technical/professional/managerial skills development; and vi) thematic topics.

Table 2.2 Content of training modules for training of trainers on participatory local development

For elected PRI council members

For PRI government officials, NGOs & CBOs

Powers, functions and resources of local government

Powers, functions and resources of local governments

Poverty alleviation/human resource development schemes

Social mobilization

Identification and prioritization of local needs

Participatory planning for social development and poverty alleviation


Management of project implementation

Participatory monitoring

Participatory monitoring

Social auditing

Gender sensitization

Coordination between the local governments, NGOs and CBOs

Table 2.3 Concepts of training




The acquisition of knowledge by a participant leads to action.

Motivations and skills lead to action. Skills are acquired through practice.

Awareness of problems and confidence in the ability to find their solutions precedes receptivity to motivation and learning skills.

The participant learns what the trainer teaches. Learning is a function of the capacity of the participant to learn and the ability of the trainer to teach.

Learning is a complex function of the motivation and capacity of individual participants, the norms of the training group, the training methods, the behaviour of the trainers and the general climate of the institution. The participant’s motivation is influenced by the climate of his/her work organization.

When the trainee/participant contributes to the design and conduct of the training course, it increases his motivation and the relevance of his/her training and provides practice in the use of popular participation as the mobilizing device for development.

Individual action leads to improvement on the job.

Improvement on the job is a complex function of individual learning, the norms of the working group and the general climate of the organization. Individual learning, unused, leads to frustration.

The use of participatory approaches on the job increases the capacity of the trainee to transmit his/her knowledge and influences the norms and the climate of the activity in which training effectiveness is measured.

Training is the responsibility of the training institution. It begins and ends with the course.

Training is the responsibility of three partners; the participants’ organization, the participants and the training institution. It has a preparatory pre-training and a subsequent post-training phase. All these factors are of key importance to the success of training.

Training involves the exchange of knowledge between the facilitator and the participant and in defining the nature and environment of the learning problem. It is a combined effort to ensure that the skills learned are adapted to the problem that the participant will face. The web of relationships of the training institution will, if it is to be effective, have many linkages.

Source - United Nations, 1978, New York. A Manual and Resource Book for Popular Participation Training, Vol - 1, Introduction.

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