Experimental

With about 50 people squeezed into our awkward space, we launched yesterday the usual way – a speech, settling in and questions about ‘the modalities,’ which means ‘how much money are you going to give us for being here and having you train us.’ Over the weekend I read an article about the origins of per diem and payments to the so-called beneficiaries of development projects; if only people had known how this practice would transform ‘opportunity’ into ‘entitlement.’

There are less than a handful of women in the group; and those who are there are there because in our invitations to the districts we insisted they bring teams of 4, 2 men and 2 women. The women tend to be lower in the hierarchy and thus either not available at the management level or not considered for such plum opportunities away from their posts.

My courageous trainees did fabulous, all of them better than yesterday. I know they studied and worked hard to master the material, never mind the facilitation techniques. All of them are introducing methods that are entirely new to the participants. This makes me wonder, once again, what happens in all the other trainings that are taking place all over Africa and which have created such an anti-training sentiment. If after 30 years of doing experimental training based on andragogy, this is still new, I think ‘anti-training’ is entirely justified. The training is not producing its results because it is poorly designed and executed.

The session that made people wonder most, rolling their eyes and remaining firmly implanted in their comfort zones was the one about personal mission and vision. Only a few men and most of the women picked up on it. They participated so enthusiastically that I suspect this is the first time they were taken seriously about something that matters and that isn’t ‘professional.’

The days are long, 14 hours at least for the facilitators. Towards the end of the day the exhausted room’s aircos were not able to manage the body heat of 50 people and sweat dribbled down my face. Yet my training team hung in there and so I did too.

My colleague Rose and I enjoyed our third mango (and beer) party, which has now become a ritual. We relax and talk until it is time for me to prepare the facilitator supports for the next day.

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