Success of Ukrainian reforms depends not only on systematic changes, but also on ability of the officials to change approach to their work and to enhance efficiency, so the Fund for Mariupol Development trains the officials to in fact serve the public through learning by doing method.
Nearly 400 Mariupol officials enhanced their skills within “New municipality” project. It has been launched several months ago. The target audience is acting or future officials of the Mariupol City Council and other institutions subject to it, for instance, Social Security Department. “There are many newcomers in the City Council and it is very important that everyone understood: the mission of the municipality is to provide services to people who live in this city according to their requests. […] To ensure openness to the public, the city authorities need several skills. And we can help them acquire these skills through our training programs,” explained Ulyana Tokareva, head of training & development programs of the Fund for Mariupol Development at a press conference within UCMC project “Spokesperson of peaceful life”, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
First courses offered training on strategic planning, client-oriented approach and relations with public and media. Recently the Kalmius District Administration of Mariupol asked for a course on strengthening active cooperation inside the community to encourage them offer more ideas on development of their district.
The activists of the Fund organize social surveys and focus groups in order to find out what are the key problems and social needs. In addition, they personally visit various institutions as clients to evaluate the service quality on their own experience. “After this, we provide a feedback to the officials and explain what exactly should be improved and consider what skills they should acquire within our training program,” said Ulyana Tokareva.
The courses program is developed in cooperation with the Mariupol City Council. “In is very important for us that the City Council had motivation to participate. […] For instance, if they are interested to learn strategic planning, we develop the course and invite experts in this field to share their experience and to help our trainees to acquire the necessary skills,” said Ulyana Tokareva. For instance, these are strategic planning experts Anatoliy Chemerys and Volodymyr Vorobiy, experts of CANaction project and various NGOs. After the training, the Fund tells the City Council about interesting ideas suggested by the trainees and provides recommendations on how they could be put in practice.
Personal motivation of the trainees is important as well. “If one has no clear understanding how to use this knowledge in his or her work, all this is nothing but waste of time and money,” stressed Ulyana Tokareva. According to her, the training helps the officials to understand the mission of municipalities and to understand whether they really want to work there. “Some people consider a post in the municipality as a stepping stone for a quick career progress and access to resources and power. When they discover that the mission is not to get access to resources but to work for the good of the community, such persons give up their intention,” she explained.
During its work on the program the Fund analyzed international best practices, for instance, experience of the frontline Haifa in Israel, experience of the UK, the USA and Poland. “It is important for us to pay more attention to successful practices that have been developed in Ukraine,” noted Ulyana Tokareva. There are successful cases in Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv and some other cities.
According to Ms Tokareva, trainings only are not sufficient to improve service quality. “Unless we change the urban space and launch additional services for people coming to Social Security Department, unless officials change their attitude – there will be no change for better. […] These measures are one of the results that we expect,” she said.
The program will be continued in 2017. There will be trainings on facilitation and communication. The Fund for Mariupol Development will also participate in trainings for operators of the hotline for children and for juvenile police, organized by the Mariupol Unit of Youth and the UNICEF.