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EIPM training Intervention: Reviewing Parliament’s Information Support System as preparatory work

19/10/2015

Parliament of Ghana  

Background
Having trialed VakaYiko’s Evidence-Informed Policy Making (EIPM) course for Civil Servants at the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC) earlier this year in Accra, information support staff at the Parliamentary Service of Ghana was next on the radar of project administrators.

A review exercise was conducted to gain insight of the information support system prevalent at the Legislature. These are presented in this piece, but also includes an overview of VakaYiko training and the rational for EIPM training in Parliament.

VakaYiko Training in EIPM
The VakaYiko EIPM Course is aimed at mid-level civil servants involved in accessing, synthesizing and communicating evidence to policymakers in resource-constrained settings. This includes researchers, policy analysts, library and ICT staff, and others.

The course aims to provide participants with an overview of evidence informed policymaking as well as practical skills in finding, assessing and communicating research. It is strongly grounded in participants’ own experience in their workplaces and includes an Action Plan component where participants design interventions appropriate for their contexts which they will implement after the course.

Capacity Gaps in Parliament’s Information Support System
A number of challenges were been identified in the information support system of the legislature, including:

  • there are inadequate information support staff within departments such as Research, Library, ICT, Hansard and Committees (for example, the Review found that Research Department outputs were rated at an average of 60% for quality, and there were some technical areas where the Department could not provide support)
  • available staff have limited capacities to adequately communicate information to support legislative work
  • very limited resources, particularly (electronic) library resources are available to support information supply to Parliamentarians
  • there is a parallel structure (formal and informal) for providing information support to legislators, a situation which could pose problems for developing adequate quality assurance mechanisms for information managing

A full Needs Assessment questionnaire has been developed in order to provide further insights about these capacity gaps.

Rationale for EIPM Training in Parliament

Evidence-informed policymaking is a current national priority in Ghana as indicated in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II. The Parliament Review further confirmed that training in EIPM for staff of the Parliament of Ghana follows the strategic direction of the Parliamentary Service. The importance of capacity building for the Parliamentary Service has been recognized for some time, and plans are underway to expand such opportunities through establishment of a Parliamentary Training Institute in future. The VakaYiko EIPM training therefore comes at a time when both the use of evidence in policymaking, and the need for capacity building in the Parliamentary Service have been clearly established in Ghana.

More specifically, training in evidence informed policy making can address issues in Parliament’s information support system in the following ways:

  • Reflection and discussion on the importance of the use of evidence in policymaking in the Ghanaian context, grounded in participants’ own experience
  • Strengthening staff capacity to identify and access appropriate sources of information on a wide range of technical subjects, including those they are not personally familiar with
  • Providing information about the wide range of free and discounted sources of research as well as electronic library resources available in Ghana
  • Enhancing capacity to effectively communicate information in a variety of formats to stakeholders involved in legislative work
  • Supporting participants to develop practical Action Plans to address organisational and other challenges affecting the way evidence is used in the Parliament of Ghana
  • Providing an opportunity for the key departments involved in the supply of evidence to collaboratively discuss their role and engage in peer learning

Work is progressing steadily, and the first training for identified staff in the Parliamentary service will take place in January 2016.

The support of the Clerk of Parliament Mr. Emmanuel K. Anyimadu is acknowledged for facilitating this strand of VakaYiko’s work with the legislature, as well as Mr. Robert A. Apodolla, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai Gombila, Mr. Acquah, Mr. Mohammed Hardi Nyagsi (all of the Parlimantary Service), and staff of the Research department for all forms of support.

Compiled by:
Kirchuffs Atengble, Project Coordinator - VakaYiko, GINKS, Ghana
Emily Hayter, Project Manager - EIPM, INASP, UK



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