Building an Effective Parliamentary Training System in Georgia
As new members of parliament (MPs) are elected and new staff appointed, legislatures must be prepared to equip them with the skills they need to respond to citizen concerns with effective policies. Until recently, the Parliament of Georgia lacked a good system for providing this support. To address this gap, NDI, with support from the UK’s Good Governance Fund, is implementing a multifaceted program to help Georgia’s Parliamentary Training Center prepare MPs to perform their legislative, representative and political functions.
With NDI’s assistance, the Parliamentary Training Center has led the development of a learning culture within parliament. Since 2017, the Center has carried out nearly 150 training workshops for 32 MPs and more than 700 parliamentary staffers, representing 21 percent of all MPs and 65 percent of all staff. In addition to those based in Tbilisi, the Center has trained parliamentary staff based in all 73 of Georgia’s electoral districts, launched a distance learning platform for ongoing engagement, and implemented both in-person and remote internship programs to engage high school students in parliament’s work. As a result of its success to date, parliamentary leaders have requested that the Center develop and implement the orientation for new MPs elected in October 2020. This will represent the first time the parliament organizes its own orientation program.
The Center’s accomplishments have been the results of long-term investment in its human and financial resources. The Center, with support from NDI, successfully advocated for an increased staff and budget, which will allow for launching new initiatives. Through consultations and training workshops, the Center’s staff increased their capacity to conduct strategic planning, monitor the Center’s work, and better communicate with external actors. In addition, the Center developed systems to structure and evaluate its operations. A new quality management system will verify that each training session responds to the needs of MPs and staff and adheres to high standards. Finally, the Center and NDI implemented two cycles of an in-house parliamentary trainer development program to equip senior parliamentary staff with the knowledge and tools to develop and lead training programs for their peers. Now, a cohort of 26 parliamentary staffers regularly implements training modules on 22 different topics.
The Center’s transformation over the last three years has been accompanied by growing recognition of its efforts -- and its impact. In the last year in particular, parliamentary leaders have highlighted the Center publicly and continuously expanded its mandate. The Center’s success is central to the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of the Georgian parliament. As the covid-19 pandemic has shown, parliaments have a critical role to play in ensuring citizen needs are prioritized and the executive is held accountable. NDI will continue to support the Center to ensure parliament has the necessary tools to respond to citizen concerns.
NDI’s parliamentary strengthening program in Georgia is supported by the United Kingdom through the Good Governance Fund.