87/4 d) |
Rome, 6 - 10 May 2002
Thematic Review of FAO's Training Activities -
Develop a corporate approach and a structured planning process for FAO's training activities
Develop FAO Staff Competencies (Internal Staff Training)
Develop Training Support Capacity in FAO
Other: Set up a Reporting and Monitoring System
1. Part of FAO's basic mandate is to collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to nutrition, food and agriculture, including fisheries and forestry. Information dissemination depends not only on the quality of the Organization's intellectual products, but also on the ability of users to utilize the information. Training plays an important role by facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills to selected audiences. Training occurs under most of FAO's technical programmes, as well as in field projects.
2. A thematic review of FAO external training was undertaken in 2000-01 at the request of the 86th session of the Programme Committee to assess the quality of training approaches and materials developed in FAO during 1994-99. The review concluded that although FAO training activities have been broadly satisfactory in the quality and utility in the circumstances under which they have evolved, there are several important issues requiring attention.
3. In response to the review, FAO Senior Management requested the establishment of an inter-departmental Task Force on FAO's Training Activities, convened by the Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE), to formulate a set of proposals for follow-up actions to address the evaluation recommendations and the resource implications of such proposed improvements.
4. The Programme Committee appreciated the lines of the management response as indicated and requested that a progress report on management's follow-up action on recommendations be submitted to the Committee at its next session in May 2002.
5. This progress report should be read in conjunction with document PC 86/3 (a) Thematic Review of FAO's Training Activities. It is preliminary in its nature given that the task assigned to the group has not been finalized yet - further reporting will be provided to the Committee at future sessions.
6. The Task Force convened its first meeting on 30 October 2001, and decided to support the follow-up effort with the assistance of consultants who started their assignment on 9 January 2002. More than 30 individual meetings were organized in which staff members from various FAO departments described the issues they faced as well as their needs and expectations regarding training. Best practices were collected from technical officers with long training experience. Five working groups with Task Force members were set up, each group focusing on a specific mandate. A meeting was also organized with field officers from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Near-East being present at Headquarters in February 2002. Feedback from five other field officers was collected with the help of focal points and via e-mail.
7. This progress report presents the recommendations made by the Task Force so far on:
8. A preliminary action plan for 2002-2003 is presented in Table 1 below.
Develop a corporate approach and structured process for planning and delivering FAO's training activities in the field
|Build awareness and acceptance of a corporate approach to training, including internal communication on common definition of training and on planning process||SDRE, AFHO Training Task Force||Starting in third quarter 2002|
|Develop training materials on adult learning principles and train network members||AFHO (lead), SDRE||2002-2003|
|Prepare guidelines for planning training activities/modules for staff training||AFHO (lead), SDRE||2002-2003|
|Develop distance learning strategy to convert materials into distance learning resources||SDRE/GILF (lead) Technical Units||Starting in fourth quarter 2002|
|Develop Staff Competencies (Internal Staff Training)|
|Survey to identify target audience and assess their training needs||AFHO||Third quarter 2002|
|Staff training||AFHO||Following survey's results|
|Develop Training Support Capacity|
|Establish an in-house network of trainers||SDRE (lead)||Third quarter 2002|
|Develop a website on training||GILW, GIII and SDRE||Starting in fourth quarter 2002|
|Design and implement information system support - a Learning Content Management System||AFI, GILF and SDRE||To be determined in March 2002|
|Other: Set up a Reporting and Monitoring System|
|Assess data requirements for reporting and monitoring of training activities under the Regular and Field Programmes||SDRE, PBE Training Task Force||By June 2002|
|Examine the feasibility and cost of incorporating requirements into PIRES and FPMIS respectively||PBEP and TCOM||By September 2002|
|Consider outcome of feasibility review and make recommendations to the IMTC on proposed data collection system enhancements||SDRE Training Task Force||November 2002|
9. The Task Force underlined the need for a corporate approach to the organization and implementation of training by FAO in field programmes and projects. Having a common understanding of training (definition), as well as a structured planning process will improve FAO's training both in terms of quality and efficiency.
10. Bearing in mind the mandate of FAO, the Task Force proposes the following definition of FAO's training: "An interactive learning process enabling individuals and communities to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes, and to share lessons learnt, so that they actively contribute to food security and poverty alleviation." It should be emphasised that this definition is open by nature and it is not all-encompassing. The application of the definition may encompass activities that fulfil only some of its aspects provided that a learning process is included. Clear distinctions between education, training and extension will be made in the final report. The report will also provide a catalogue of interventions that will fall under the category of training based on the proposed definition.
11. The Task Force considers that a systematic planning of learning interventions, based on adult learning principles, should include the following steps:
12. The Task Force recommends that a module on Adult Learning Principles as a framework for training planning be developed for staff training purposes. The content should cover the main principles of adult learning, and each principle should be accompanied by practical examples from successful training materials already prepared within FAO. The Task Force also recommends that it be mandatory for all staff involved in training activities to attend the course on Adult Learning Principles.
13. The Task Force recommends that guidelines - in the form of a learning module for each of the planning steps - be developed to secure the application of the systematic planning of training. Staff involved in training, and particularly field officers, would be trained on the process outlined in the guidelines.
14. The proposed definition of training together with the process for planning FAO's training activities in the field should be effectively `marketed' via staff training, as well as a website on training and specific publications.
15. Regarding cost-effective approaches for knowledge dissemination, the Organization has already made a start during 2000-01. A framework for distance education and distance learning for FAO was developed by SDRE and GILW and an informal inter-departmental task force on distance learning was recently established by the same two technical units. The Task Force will further explore the potential use of this approach.
16. Having its own staff trained according to a structured approach is a pre-requisite for FAO to deliver professional, efficient and cost-effective training in member countries. Hence, the Task Force recommends that staff members involved in external training activities participate in relevant and "tailor-made" courses organised by the Human Resources Development Service (AFHO) in FAO. Internal training follows the same systematic approach as outlined above.
17. The Task Force recommends that a survey be conducted to identify FAO staff members who are involved in external training. Once the target audience has been identified, individual interviews will be conducted to assess training needs according to the training role being undertaken and the specific skills or development required. A questionnaire for the survey is under preparation.
18. In developing a Train the Trainer programme there needs to be a distinction between the following discrete areas of activity:
While some staff may require skills development in all of the above areas, other officers may be involved only in part of them and would, thus, require less training.
19. The Task Force recommends that all technical officers involved in the management or delivery of training programmes complete an appropriate training course. This practice should apply not only to staff members, but also to non-permanent staff. AFHO is currently investigating accreditation and/or ways to set appropriate training standards. AFHO will also look for the best format to deliver staff training in terms of duration, modular approach, etc. to guarantee both flexibility and efficiency.
20. The motivation of technical officers to attend such training together with the availability of funds for staff development and the willingness of AFHO to offer relevant staff training make this recommendation realistic. There is a need to develop awareness at different levels of management of the importance of staff training.
21. While AFHO prepares a Train the Trainer programme, the Task Force recommends, as a temporary solution, that staff members involved in external training activities attend the "Facilitation" or the "Presentation skills" training at present offered by FAO. These courses focus on how to deliver effective training and will allow the participants to perform better and feel more at ease when facing an audience.
22. The Task Force will communicate this recommendation to technical divisions and encourage potential participants to register, while AFHO will guarantee the availability of these two training courses during the coming months.
23. The Task Force recommends the establishment of a network of people with skills and knowledge on pedagogic and didactic approaches to training. This network would facilitate the move towards a corporate approach to training, above and beyond boundaries of departments and divisions. Other training support would include the development of a roster of training experts/consultants, a dedicated website and an information system.
24. The Task Force recommends that an informal network of training expertise be established within FAO. The network will act as a bridge between technical officers who are involved in training activities but have limited training expertise, and staff members who have this expertise. This inter-departmental pool of expertise will enhance cross-fertilisation1 of ideas, sharing of information, best practices and lessons learnt between departments, and provide advice and assistance in the field of training. This function should be regarded as part of the network members' job within the Organization.
25. The Task Force has developed a questionnaire for the identification of existing in-house training expertise on different aspects of the planning process as well as thematic topics, at Headquarters and in the field. Information will be collected with the help of the Task Force members. All FAO staff at Headquarters and in field programmes will be informed of the existence of this pool of expertise, both by Task Force members within their own divisions, and through e-mail and Intranet. Furthermore, the services offering assistance including the names of the contact persons should be included in the website on training.
26. There is an emerging trend in outsourcing production of training materials including multimedia. The Task Force recommends that a corporate roster of competent consultants and external trainers be developed to facilitate sharing of expertise across departments. However, efforts should be made for FAO to retain/develop also some in-house capacity in this area.
27. In support of the network and the sharing of the information collected above, the Task Force recommends that a website on training be established on the FAO Intranet to provide relevant information on training and to stimulate cross-fertilisation within technical units at Headquarters and in field programmes. A website will make a valuable contribution to efficiency and cost saving of training by providing easily accessible information and materials while reducing the risk of duplication of effort. It can also provide the opportunity to share training evaluation and monitoring results, thus creating added value for other users.
28. The training website would initially contain information on:
29. This website, initially meant for internal purposes, would be developed in English. However, staff members would be encouraged to post training materials available in various languages. During a trial period of one year, its utilisation would be monitored to assess staff interest in the site. At the end of the period, the future content and accessibility of the website to an external audience would be determined. Field officers (including FAO Representatives, Regional and Sub-regional Offices) may have difficulties in accessing the FAO Intranet. Hence, it is proposed that a CD-ROM with the most pertinent content of the website be prepared and regularly up-dated for them.
30. The Task Force recommends that all materials related to training and developed by FAO be stored to secure institutional memory. It is proposed that a Learning Content Management System be used as a repository with Organization-wide access through the website on training. Whether such a system should be included in the repository currently being designed and developed in-house or be bought from the shelf needs to be looked into. This issue will be examined further by the Task Force in consultation with the Information Systems and Technology Division.
31. The work of the Task Force has been concentrated upon developing a corporate approach to planning and delivering FAO's training activities and on the development of staff competency and training support. Hence, not much progress has yet been made on the reporting and monitoring aspect.
32. It is envisaged that the Task Force will first identify what essential data requirements would need to be met in order to monitor these programmes in an effective manner. The two key planning and monitoring systems would then be evaluated with a view to determining the feasibility and costs of incorporating such requirements into the existing systems. Finally, proposals would be made to the Information Management and Technology Committee with a view to making a decision on this point.
33. This document has been provided for information as requested by the Programme Committee. The recommendations of the Task Force as included in this interim report will shortly be considered by Senior Management. The Committee will be provided with an update on Senior Management's reaction at its next session.
1 Inter-departmental teams facilitate exchange of information. Ex: In the context of the Livelihood Support Programme, different services in forestry, fishery and livestock decided to adopt and to adapt a training on "conflicts management" that was developed by FONP.
2 The training websites of the technical divisions would remain with the divisions as at present, while the FAO-wide website on training would provide short descriptions of available information and/or links to these sites.