How COVID has changed the way EMIT delivers training.
To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world would be an understatement. It has upended day-to-day lives across the globe. The pandemic has changed how we work, learn and interact as social distancing guidelines have led to a more virtual existence, both personally and professionally.
After the initial shock and uncertainty subsided, we realised that if we want to fulﬁl our mandate to transform communities by training leaders, we will have to address our training model. We decided to be pro-active, rather than wait to see how long the pandemic will last. We believe it was the right decision as the pandemic is still with us – something no one could have predicted.
We could no longer come together in large venues with big groups, or travel across borders to deliver training as expert teachers. Even our material was designed to be taught in large groups by experts. Our entire model had to be changed.
The new model was determined after collaborating with our leaders across the continent and taking COVID guidelines into consideration. We moved from centralised, large group training events to decentralised, small group facilitation. This meant that students did not need to travel large distances to receive training but could stay in their communities and be trained. The training came to them. No expert teachers were allowed to travel, therefore, we had to train facilitators for each group to facilitate the training process.
We had no material to train these facilitators and had to develop our own. As our training material was designed to be used by teachers in a classroom setting, all our material had to be reworked for the new facilitation process. We train in 8 languages – this was quite a task! As soon as the material was developed, the training of facilitators started in earnest. We had no idea if this would be successful.
We knew that we had to give the vision to the people and trust them with it. It exceeded all our expectations. We are happy to report that students are accepting this new model with open arms. They love this process. This model is more interactive. Students are encouraged to discuss the material and ask questions and therefore retain and internalise the material better. With the old model it was simply not possible.
Another unexpected beneﬁt is that community involvement has improved. Because these leaders are now learning together within their communities, they come up with solutions to their unique problems. They take hands and serve their communities together. We are excited for the future and believe that transformation is possible, now more than ever.