Newsletter Volume 7, August-October 2020

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Dialogue for Change 

Platforms for Dialogue Quarterly Highlights

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Communications Tools Trainings Completed in 21 Project Districts

In an effort to support our partner CSOs’ branding and communications capabilities, P4D Communications team implemented a training programme on common online platforms and marketing tools. After a successful Training of Trainers (ToT) early in the summer, P4D’s Regional Coordinators (RCs) went on to provide Communications Tools Trainings for District Facilitators. Then the RCs and DFs together provided the same training to local CSO and MAP members. Representatives from all 63 partner CSOs and their associated MAP group members joined one-week long online trainings from July to September. In total, 200 beneficiaries were trained. 

The training covered communications platforms including Facebook, Google Drive, Canva, and Wix so that CSOs and MAP group members can effectively communicate and promote their work at the community level. Panchagar CSO Leader, Akhtarun Nahar Saki, said, “it’s a befitting initiative to refresh the mind and develop the organization during the Covid-19 pandemic situation. This initiative enriches our understanding of IT, and the online training has created career opportunities for youth.” Another participant, District Facilitator Khodeja Begum from Sylhet shared that, “this online training is very important at the present time. We believe that this training will help us in the future and hope it will continue to build our IT skills.” While the training covered a large amount of information in a short period of time, beneficiaries are already making excellent use of their new skills. Our Regional Coordinators, District Facilitators, and Communications team continue to support our partner CSOs as they develop their online presence.

2nd Social Media Campaign: Promoting Social Accountability Tools in 21 Project Districts

On Right to Information Day, P4D launched a second social media campaign on the four major social accountability tools: Right to Information, Citizen’s Charter, Grievance Redress System, and the National Integrity Strategy.

The first campaign, which ran from April to August, was successful in reaching many Facebook users, however, engagement was not as high as we had hoped. A comprehensive analysis of the initial campaign showed that our ad campaign prioritised reach and content was highly informative. In preparation for a second campaign, the Communications team decided to opt for more entertaining content that, while still educational, would capture followers’ attention. This ‘edutainment’ approach has so far been extremely successful.

Similar to our inaugural campaign in the Spring and Summer, this one will also relay information on the what, how, and why of each social accountability tool. To better demonstrate these ideas, however, we have introduced animated social accountability characters. Each of these characters is an expert on one of the social accountability tools, and in simple yet informative dialogue between a silly genie character and each of the social accountability tool characters, followers will learn what each tool is, how it works, and why it is important. 

Content will feature animated graphics and videos, as well as photo graphics, PSA videos, and other relevant content. During this campaign, the goal is to keep reaching high while engaging more followers so that our content can organically reach a wider audience throughout the project districts. To date, the initial portion of the second campaign is reaching and engaging far more Facebook users than our initial campaign.

Youth Day Celebration: Young MAP Members Share their Vision for Bangladesh

In honour of International Youth Day on 12 August, P4D compiled a 10-minute video showcasing how youth from our 21 project districts are impacting their communities through the use of social accountability tools. The video featured young speakers from our partner CSOs and MAP groups who shared their achievements and future plans to make their communities a better place to live. Popular topics such as accessing public services, holding public servants accountable, stopping child marriage, women’s education and empowerment, anti-drug campaigns, and improving infrastructure and accessibility at the community level were prominent. The inspirational stories from all the youth involved made it clear that they are dedicated to continuing their work to build communities with integrity and have high expectations for their future development.

Right to Information Day Celebration: Online Campaign Reaches 1 Million

With in-person event restrictions due to the pandemic, P4D found a creative way to engage our community on Right to Information Day this year. One week prior to the International Access to Information Day on 28 September, P4D published a short video of project staff encouraging followers to join our “Information is My Right” campaign.

Followers were encouraged to write something about the Right to Information on a piece of paper in Bengali or English such as: “It’s my right to know” and “Access your right to know with the Right to Information Act, 2009”. Then, with the paper in hand, they were instructed to take a picture of themselves and post it to their Facebook timeline with the hashtags #platformsfordialogue and #righttoinformation.

In an overwhelming turnout, nearly 200 individuals posted images on their social media profiles promoting the use of Right to Information. Between the promotional content on our Facebook page and the organic reach of those who posted their own image on the platform, one million users were reached in total. On the P4D Facebook page, visitors can see all the participants’ images in a compilation album. In total, 187 citizens and 8 District Information Officers submitted their photos for the campaign. British Council of Bangladesh also promoted this story on Facebook and re-shared the campaign to their followers.

Introducing P4D’s New Social Accountability Characters

To aid our social media campaigns, the Communications team has developed five Social Accountability Tool (SAT) characters. The 4 policy expert characters were designed to be representative of different age groups, geographies, and lifestyles throughout Bangladesh, and the genie character was designed to add humour and lightness to the campaign..

Right to Information Sister is an older indigenous woman, who is very keen to help her remote community learn about the Right to Information and access public information. Citizen’s Charter Bhai is a middle-aged farmer who promotes the use of the Citizen’s Charter in his rural village and wants to help his neighbours and family access public services, hassle-free. GRS Apa is a young woman promoting the Grievance Redress System. She believes that in order to help the government improve services, citizens need to make use of this accountability tool when services are not delivered properly. NIS boy is a young character who is optimistic about the future of Bangladesh and wishes to see integrity in both public and private life. He promotes NIS to his peers and community in order to hold people accountable for their actions. Lastly, a silly genie character was developed to keep the cartoons light and fun. The genie is always trying to help people struggling with public services, but in reality, can do little more than conjure up a rose or other useless items. The four SAT characters come to help, and in the process, the genie too learns about the SATs and vows to help promote them.

The current SMC underway is making use of these characters in content that is both educational and fun. Our goal is to make these characters recognizable as SAT ambassadors throughout our project districts so that information on the SATs is accessible and recognizable to all.

Programme Trainings for Government Officials

Strategic Communications Trainings for Journalists Resume under the NIMC

The National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMC) has resumed their Strategic Communications trainings for Journalists in collaboration with Dr. Golam Faruque, Additional Secretary, CD, Dr. Shahnaz Arefin, Additional Secretary, CD, Ms. Ayesha Akhter, Joint Secretary, CD, and Mr. Mokhlesur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, CD. The institution had put the trainings on hold due to the pandemic, however, with the introduction of new technologies and special efforts to deliver workshop materials and introduce journalists to online tools while practising safe social distancing, the NIMC was able to continue their work via video conferencing.

In September, the NIMC conducted two two-day trainings, one in Moulvibazar and the other in Munshiganj, with 25 journalists in attendance at each one. In October, 75 more journalists were trained in Pabna, Nilphamari, and Netrokona. To date, the NIMC has provided training for 14 of P4D’s 21 project districts. While the remaining trainings will continue online, the NIMC hopes to resume in-person trainings once it is safe to do so. When the trainings are complete, 525 journalists will have been trained on the five social accountability tools (NIS, RTI, CC, GRS, and APA) as well as on content and copy writing skills to report on government policies.

Journalists were also encouraged by the Cabinet Division resource persons to engage in investigative reporting in their districts to ensure proper implementation of the SATs at government offices. The CD reminded the journalists of protective laws in place to ensure that they would not face retaliation from local authorities if they felt the need to raise awareness of corruption abuses. Journalists who have already participated in the training have shared that they are interested in continuing their education on policy tools and that they hope to participate in in-person refresher courses in the future. To date, the trainings have already increased visibility of the SATs, as journalists from participating districts publish articles on the trainings in their local newspapers. Notably, the first article on the APA was published in Prothom Alo, a renowned daily newspaper in Bangladesh, covering seven city corporations.

REVE Systems Supports GRS

REVE Systems has been working with P4D to maintain and improve the online Grievance Redress System (GRS) software used by citizens and government officials alike. In order to equip government officials with the knowledge to understand and address formal grievances through the system quickly and efficiently, REVE has been conducting training courses throughout P4D’s project districts. This August, REVE conducted the final training course on GRS software through video conference.

Now, government officials at every level of government have access to their own personal online account where they can see formal grievances that have been lodged against them, and through the system, they can work with citizens to address each case. Senior officials have also been trained on how to monitor grievances against officials under their supervision, so no complaint will be left unresolved. P4D will continue to support government officials to better utilise the system, and later this year, they will help P4D produce training videos for officials to refer back should they need.

BPATC: 2nd Research Validation Workshop

After a successful initial Research Validation Workshop in July, the BPATC under the guidance of Rector, Mr. Md. Rakib Hossain conducted a second Research Validation Workshop at the beginning of August. In total, 27 participants from the Cabinet Division, Ministry of Public Administration, BPATC, and local universities joined the online workshop. The main discussion topic was the review and validation of a BPATC research report on government officials’ understanding of Social Accountability Tools (SATs). The quantitative study found that while many civil servants do have a good understanding of the tools and concepts around good governance, there is still room for improvement, particularly concerning the Annual Performance Management (APM) and the Citizen’s Charter (CC). The BPATC recommends several ways to improve future study results including more formal training on SATs for civil servants, improved public awareness of SATs, enhancing civil servant performance, and introducing a focal point civil servant who is focused on supporting citizens with the SATs. 

Shaikh Yusuf Harun, Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, attended as Chief Guest, Ms. Badrun Nesa, Rector, BCSAA was present as Special Guest, and Dr. Shahnaz Arefin ndc, Additional Secretary, Cabinet Division and Mr. Arsen Stepanyan, Team Leader of P4D were present as Guests of Honour.

APM Trainings: BPATC works with Division Officials on Annual Performance Management

From August to September, the BPATC implemented Annual Performance Management workshops in three regions throughout Bangladesh. The first training occurred at the end of August in Khulna, followed by two trainings in September in Rajshahi and Rangpur accordingly. Each training had roughly 50 participants from the government and public universities in attendance with the use of video conferencing to allow participants to join remotely. The workshops focused on identifying and reducing common mistakes, mandatory social accountability indicators, how to properly prepare the Annual Performance Management (APM), and practical exercises to confirm that officials can complete APMs without errors. One training course remains, which will take place in Chattogram this November. Participants valued the workshop as it helped them identify any mistakes they were making before and prepared them to be more careful as they complete the upcoming APM for their departments. 

Shaikh Yusuf Harus, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration was the Chief Guest, with Ms. Badrun Nesa, Rector of BCSAA present as Special Guest. Dr. Shahnaz Arefin ndc, Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division and Mr. Arsen Stepanyan, Team Leader of P4D were also in attendance as Guests of Honour. Special thanks to Mr. Md. Rakib Hoassain ndc, Rector of the BPATC for being the Chair at the workshop.

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