Challenges & Lessons Learnt from 2007 E.C. Community Service

CHALLENGES of 2007 E.C.

I.CHALLENGES RELATED TO THE UNIVERSITY’S ADMINISTRATION

  • Absence of car service from the university, leading to the use of public transport and delayed training time. This also brought suffering to the team. 
  • Unable to buy the required materials for the training because of purchasing bureaucracy of the university. We have to go many times to the purchasing case team. This was boring since we have other works. Because of this we were not able to buy some materials which have been planned in the proposal. 
  • Trainees who came from remote kebeles of Bahir Dar City highly complained due to the absence of transport fee. Generally, all trainees asked that instead of covering the costs of lunch, the university could have given them lunch and transport fee in cash since most of us are serving the community voluntarily without any payment.  
  • BDU did not release the project budget on time.
  • Reagents for laboratory were not available in our college (Health), no printer and photo copy machine for duplication of modules. Besides, due to absence of pocket money for trainee, there were no note books for the trainee.
  • Unavailability of demonstration lab utensils
  • Getting stationery /materials from the research and community service of Bahir Dar University. The only materials that available at research and community service of Bahir Dar University were pen and Flip chart, but Markers and Note books were not available.
  • Lack of meeting hall due to overlap of meetings and trainings.
  • The process of getting fund and approval of the Main Gate guards of the University
  • Financial matters: The project needs time up to the end of June, but financial issues need to be finalized and reported before the project time (end of June)
  • ቋሚ የፕሮጀክት ትግበራ ሰራተኛዎች አለመኖር
    • “ስራውን ለማከናወን ያለው ቅድመና ድህረ ሂደት እጅግ አሰልቺ ከመሆኑም በላይ በስራችንና በጊዜያችን ላይ ከፍተኛ ብክነት ሆኖ አግኝተነዋል፡፡ ለምሳሌ የመጓጓዣ መኪና ለማግኘት፣ ማሰልጠና ክፍል ለማግኘት፣ ማስታወሻ ደብተርና እስክሪቢቶ ለማውጣት፤ እንዲሁም መጨረሻ ላይ ለማወራረድ ያለው ውጣ ውረድ ከሌላው ስራችን ጋር ተደምሮ ሁለተኛ አልሞክረውም ያስብላል፡፡”
  • “የማህበረሰብ አገልግሎት ስራ በዩኒቨርሲቲው እንደስራ አለመታየቱ፡፡ ይህም አንደኛ ለምንሰራው ስራ በቂ ጊዜ ያልተሰጠን ከመሆኑ በላይ ከጫና በላይ መስራታችን በሁሉም ስራችንና በራሳችን ላይ ጫና መፍጠሩ፤ ሁለተኛ ዩኒቨርሲቲው የምርምር ስራን በመጽሔት (በጆርናል) ላሳተመ ማበረታቻ ሲሰጥ፤ የራሳችንንም ሆነ የሌሎችን የምርምር ስራ ውጤቶች ወደተግባር በመቀየር ለማህበረሰቡ ጊዜያችን፣ እውቀታችንና ጉልበታችንን በነጻ ላበረከትን መምህራን ግን ማበረታቻ አለመሰጠቱ እንደትልቅ ችግር የተመለከትነው ሲሆን ለወደፊቱ በዚህ ሁኔታ ለመስራት አበረታች ሆኖ አላገኘነውም፡፡”

II.CHALLENGES RELATED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATORS

  • Dominance of legalization issues during the discussion at Robit Bahta. Fishers were denied to form fish cooperatives.
  • Regarding to the unanticipated challenges, it was very difficult to convince the fishers on the issues of legalization. They complained a lot on the government bureaucracy and on harsh measures taken to disintegrate them by the Kebele administration at Robit Bahta Kebele.
  • Leaders acting on behalf youth were not committed to the project. In addition to phone communication, discussions of the project coordinator with concerned leaders in person in the sub city for more than three times were found to be worthless
  • Some Sub City Officials were not taking issues seriously and they did not play their expected roles properly. 
  • Kebele administrators’ engagement on several meetings to discuss and sign memorandum of understanding was difficult. 
  • Lack  of  coordination  and  support,   little emphasis to the training
  • Delaying schedule of training by unplanned meetings and other problems of the schools

 

III.CHALLENGES RELATED TO THE SERVICE PROVIDERS

  • Overestimated training days plan
  • Being unaware of VAT and withholding tax calculation.
  • Refusal by some of the department teachers, who participated in the planning, to provide training for different reasons.
  • Misunderstanding of the community service projects
  • Not conducting trainings as per schedule
  • Complaints from trainers regarding insufficient allowance of the training days out of Bahir Dar.
  • Engagement of trainers by other programmes

 

IV.CHALLENGES RELATED TO THE SERVICE RECIPIENTS

  • Per diem, transportation fee and other incentives request by participants
  • Unavailability of fishermen at Bahir Dar site because they suspect that there will be some type of legal action about the illegal fishing.
  • Perception of fishermen towards using illegal fishing gillnets, seasonal closure and fear of tax to register to the bureau of agriculture.
  • Fishers complained about the illegal fishing activities in their jurisdiction from other distant fishers.
  • Trainees were coming from different background levels; some of them have adequate knowledge on the issue related to the training; some do not have, and that was difficult to manage
  • Some trainees do not have computer skill so that practical section was difficult
  • During the training there were inconsistencies in attending whole day training. Late coming, missing half day sessions, and absences were seen among some participants. Even some trainees dropped out from the training after they were informed that there would not be per diem and transport service.
  • Some resistance of the community involvement to project activities
  • የመድሀኒት እፅዋት አዋቂ የማህበረሰብ ክፍሎችን የሚሰጡትን ፈውስ ግልፅ አለማድረግ፣

V.CHALLENGES RELATED TO THE SERVICE PROVISION AREA

  • Absence of some inputs for the delivery of the services in the provision areas
  • For fishery-related community service projects, the sites selected were found to be mostly inappropriate and unsuitable for the job
  • Delayed training because of unplanned meetings and other problems in the service provision areas
  • Difficulties to mobilize the community to carry out different activities

VI.MISCELLANEA

  • There were problems related to the timing and the programme
  • Time shortage was found to be one of the serious challenges that daunt the implementation of the project.
  • Selection of the trainees was very challenging. The number of persons involved in the fisheries sector was large but the number of trainees to be trained is limited to 40 at a site. Therefore, it was very difficult to select 40 trainees from the many fishery folks.
  • Because of time and financial constraints we could not address all target persons.
  • The process of providing logistic services, such as cookies and lunch, the unwillingness of organizations to provide those services to trainees in the area of training were some of the unexpected challenges met.
  • No collaborative effort was made with other bodies/stakeholders in financing the project and other inputs involved in planning, implementing, and/or evaluating which affect project outcomes.
  • The training was not supported by research though preliminary observation and need assessments were made.   
  • Few participants were not comfortable with the lunch food prepared by one of the University café
  • There are no computer access for the trainees to continue in the future
  • Unwillingness of different research center to give their seedlings by asking MOU process. 
  • The challenges were seasonality of beekeeping activity.
  • Lack of pressure to distribute water
  • Lack of recording—video and camera.
  • Electricity/power problems.
  • Hall rent problems.
  • Challenge of controlling all the expenses of financial matters during service delivery and number of trainees exceeding by 15 from the planned and budgeted schedule
  • የመድሀኒት እፅዋት ዘሮችንና ሌሎች መራቢያ ግብዓቶችን ከህጋዊ አቅራቢ ነጋዴዎች መግዛት አለመቻል ለግዥ አፈፃፀም መቸገር፣

 

Lessons learnt from 2007 E.C. Community Service

1. Preparation stage related lessons

  • Writing a proposal for training project is quite different from implementing the training sessions because of a number of problems
  • Lobbying and advocacy is more important than formal need assessment
  • Informal communication and linkage is a vital issue to implement projects
  • In providing training, though the lions’ share could be taken by the training institution, it will not be fruitful without the collaboration of different stakeholders.
  • When the contents covered are many, the training will not be focused. In the future, the training should be designed focusing on a limited, if not one, pressing problem of the institution which is identified by the institution itself.
  • We learned more about the importance of commitment and community service officials’ involvement to achieve the desired goal
  • It is very much important to do a need assessment before launching any project simply because it is the beneficiaries who knows their problems and demands better than anyone else. There consultation has to be given the priority.
  • Organizing community services is not an easy job. Beyond, the enthusiasm to serve the community, it requires a greater deal of patience and resilience to break the bureaucracies that disappoint professionals at different points. 
  • The university needs to work a lot on creating a better awareness about community service and free professional contribution. Both leaders and the community require a lot of sensitization. Different forums should be created for different stakeholders so as to discuss, dialogue and argue on the issue.
  • Focusing and involving the right people will contribute to address harms caused on children.
  • Arranging training based on community felt needs, enough preparation and planning ahead are vital for the successful achievement of objectives.
  • Negotiating with organizations to select the right participants and prepare them for the proposed training are also crucial
  • Processing the logistic and the bureaucracy starting from the University gate to the settling financial issues all need skill, sufficient time, tolerance and commitment. In other words, they are a bit challenging, tiresome and time taking for coordinators due to absence of mutual engagement and sharing of responsibilities by organizations which need the service. 
  • We have to approach the society through the Woreda administration.
  • Community service provision site selection has to be done with care and attention
  • Consulting finance professionals for purchasing and dissolving  financial related problems
  • Developing skills, knowledge and experiences how to plan, fund seeking and implementing community service projects
  • Preliminary study should be done to prioritize and select important problems for community services
  • Planning with stockholders is very effective for the implementation of community services
  • Changing the research results to community service is easy and effective
  • Woreda administrators are willing to organize any training
  • Farmers are willing to accept expert advise
  • Preparation of a project with minimum budget and within short period of time was a very nice lesson.

2. Service delivery stage related lessons

  • In order to realize the ultimate benefits of projects, it is better to follow training- by-work methodology.
  • Some of the training days were on Saturdays and Sundays. But since the trainings were for 26 days, we have used from Monday to Friday. This in turn had brought workload upon teachers.
  • There is the possibility to bring behavioral change to improve infant and young child feeding when theoretical education was supplemented with cooking demonstration.
  • Providing training differs from teaching in many ways.  Training participants come with diverse knowledge and experiences. So, trainers should be ready to allocate enough time and opportunities for discussion so as to help trainees to integrate their practical knowledge with the theoretical one.
  • Taking into account of the occurrence of unexpected challenges
  • Tolerating unfavorable events to met desired goals and objectives
  • Financial experts shall be assigned as a community service provider to handle purchasing and other financial related issues, there by conditions will be easy for other professionals to contribute their own professional roles.
  • Training is a very important tool to improve awareness of farmers

 
3. Post-service delivery stage related lessons

  • Make continuous follow up on the trainee (even observation their working place
  • Recommend higher officials to create healthy working environment for employees they supervised
  • We have to have the courage to help school - level teachers, and it is recommended that this kind of short term training has to aggressively continue at the primary level. Unless the base is well treated, putting a lot of efforts at a higher level will be meaningless. In order to address a lot of primary school teachers, the university has to work hand in hand with the regional educational bureau. 
  • The demand for training is very high in the community radio since the reporters and media managers are people who are less qualified especially in the field of journalism and communication as community radios operate based on volunteers. Thus, the provision of the training can be taken as the most important outcome of the training. The lesson learned from the project is that there are many ways our University, especially our department can support the community as long as the station is established to serve the local community that might not be reached by the mainstream media.
  • From the training, it is learned that the problem of children is immense and children are not obtaining the proper care and protection. If we fail to do so, we are losing the future fates of the country. From now onwards, we have to work hard to contribute our own share as much as we can. 
  • If teachers, school principals and Woreda education officers are closely supported by the capacity building in-service trainings like what we did, and closely supervised by the Universities, they can bring significant improvement in their knowledge, skill and attitude to their profession.
  • If teachers, school principals and Woreda education officers are jointly working with the Universities, they can improve the academic achievement of their students.
  • The joint effort of the Universities, schools, Woredas and zones for quality education is very crucial. Therefore, this effort has to be strengthened in the future so as to produce quality learners, quality education and develop quality culture.
  • Since secondary and preparatory schools are the ideal places for the university in preparing quality students that join the university cultivating the students at high school levels by sharing the university’s experience and future vision is very crucial.

 
3. Other lessons

  • Unlike the long-standing perceptions, farmers are quite eager to implement new technology introduced; provided adequate training and awareness is given. They are even ready to invest on such technologies!
  • The joint effort of the Universities, schools, Woredas and zones for quality education is very crucial. Therefore, this effort has to be strengthened in the future so as to produce quality learners, quality education and develop quality culture.
  • Since secondary and preparatory schools are the ideal places for the university in preparing quality students that join the university cultivating the students at high school levels by sharing the university’s experience and future vision is very crucial.
  • What we learnt from this project is that the school health intervention project was untouched and a lot should be done to overcome the problem encountered in school environment and population including their families. Ministry of health and ministry of education should work in collaboration to make the school environment conducive to health.
  • Working on gardening and related ideas attracts whole society at large and school students in particular. The issue is really timely to avoid food shortages in our society.
  • Lack of resources is not the most determinant factor for the absence/lack of proper care and protection of children but it is lack of proper knowledge, skills and systems. Particularly absence/lack of sense of shared responsibility by every individual citizen and the society at large, lack of systems and skills how to tap existing material as well as social resources of the society and how to mobilize them.