At The Hague Academy for Local Governance, we train nearly a thousand participants every year. After they have been trained, they are often very motivated to use their newly acquired skills to improve the quality of local governance in their communities. However, we do not always know what happens after they return home. What changes will they implement in their organisations? And how successful are these changes? To gain insight in these questions, we conducted a survey among the alumni of our 2017 open courses.
65 alumni took the effort to take part in the survey, out of the 167 people that we approached. Nearly all (97%) reported they had applied what they learned to their work in some way. Although this took many forms, it shows our trainings succeed in motivating the participants to make a change. In most cases, the impact extends beyond their own work. Three quarters shared what they learned with their colleagues or conducted trainings themselves. This creates a ripple effect, which increases the effect our training has on local governance worldwide. For example, Egyptian Integrity and Anti-Corruption-alumnus Ahmed Khodair Abdelaty told us:
“Based on the training materials from the course, I trained civil servants and youth on changing management for integrity. Then I selected the most active and enthusiastic youth from the 27 governorates to combat corruption in the platform ‘youth against corruption’ which works as some sort of civil control on the civil servants behaviour and the public money.”
Furthermore, many alumni were able to use the lessons they learned to improve the way their own organisations work. 60% of the participants have managed to do this, by initiating new projects or sometimes even influencing and changing policies. An example of this was Sandra Owusu Afriyie from Ghana, who participated in our training on Citizen Participation and Inclusive Governance. She told us: “I realised the need to be accountable to the citizens whom we serve. Immediately after the training I sought approval to create a Facebook and Twitter-account to better engage with the citizens on the programmes and activities of the municipality. This platform has grown with 2000 people whom I constantly update and inform about issues within the municipality and also take feedback from them.”
Of course, it is also possible that some initiatives do not succeed or cannot be implemented. However, 91% of our respondents reported that their initiatives were completely or at least partially successful. This shows that it is often possible to create positive change. This success was to a large extent attributed to what they had learned from the training, as was also emphasized by Mohamed Abbasjeikh, from Somalia, who said the following about his participation in our Conflict, Rule of Law and Local Security training: “The course has helped me, my community and my organisation”. Apart from the training, our alumni emphasised that the cooperation with other stakeholders was very important for the degree to which their actions succeeded.
We also learned our alumni form a strong and sustainable network. 95% of the respondents to our survey have remained in contact with their fellow course participants a year after the training. They use this contact not just for fun, but also to exchange experiences in how to apply what they learned in The Hague. Nino Zotikishvili from Georgia, one of our Citizen Participation and Inclusive Governance-alumni, explained how this worked:
“I’d like to thank for the Hague Academy! The work you do spreads all over the word and helps communities to connect each other and build the better world together!”
We are very happy to hear so many positive stories from our alumni. It shows that the experience they have in our courses really has impact on their work, their organisations and even their communities. This inspires our team in The Hague to continue to work to strengthen good and inclusive local governance around the world!