Agents of Change
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or not-for-profits play an enormously important role in society with their values based on the ambition to advance and improve the human lives. Motivated by the desire to care for and develop the society, NGOs establish and operate programmes of education, health, social welfare and economic improvement, especially among disadvantaged sectors. In improving their work, NGOs directly improve the services they provide to their beneficiaries. Capacity building of NGOs and non-formal citizen groups affects the development of society and, hence, the wellbeing of its citizens. ACED constantly assists in the empowerment of NGOs and non-formal organizations through provision of training, seminars, workshops, round tables, technical assistance, etc.
The assistance ACED staff provided until the beginning of 2011 had the following impact:
- More than 600 NGO leaders attended training seminars, developing skills to improve their organizations and enhance their service delivery.
- 200 grants awarded to organizations of women, persons with disabilities, youth, farmers, returnees, and others.
- 3 NGO Resource Centres established serving 38 local NGOs. They offer their member-organizations space for offices, training and conferences, and access to information and technology.
- 13 pilot Community Action Teams established in 5 municipalities to help community members mobilize and proactively create solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems.
- 8 Youth Community Action Teams and computer labs established in geographically isolated primary schools to provide students, teachers and local residents with computer skills, access to the internet, and the opportunity to connect with each other across BiH and around the world.
- 12 national and regional NGO Fairs and conferences organized to promote the work of local organizations, raise public awareness of civil issues and generate support.
- 110 Student Councils – Youth Community Action Teams established in high schools throughout the country.
With its motto “Synergy for Innovative Solutions” ACED declares its goal: Cooperation and Education will result in Development – the main three pillars of society that were also used in the creation of ACED’s name:
Agency for Cooperation, Education and Development.
As of the first half of 2011, ACED conducts capacity building activities intended for civil society organizations from the following sectors:
Persons with Disabilities: In cooperation with associations for the disabled in BiH and the region, ACED continues to support relevant local associations endorsing actions to promote the rights of their constituencies and improve their social integration.
Youth: ACED assists in establishing and strengthening School Councils (SC) at secondary schools in the whole country. Building the advocacy capacities of Student Councils and enabling them to organize themselves into student networks, provides the grounds for students to tackle problems and advocate for solutions that need to be addressed with educational authorities on higher levels. Powerful advocacy tools enable students to raise awareness of the issues that affect their whole group countrywide and not just individual schools or schools in one municipality.
Youth 2: ACED continues through its projects to provide training and lectures on basic civil society skills to student associations and informal student groups, supporting their organizational development.
Youth 3: ACED supports the establishment of rural cultural clubs as the basis for youth cultural and art endeavours. This provides opportunities for young people to actively participate in rural oriented cultural and art projects with the aim to build capacities of local rural communities and enhance their further sustainable development.
Rural Communities: In order to enhance civil society’s contribution to developing and implementing the principle of participatory democracy in sustainable development of rural areas, Local Action Groups (LAGs) are created to encourage mobilisation of local partners and resources in steering the future development of rural areas based on the LEADER approach.
This is what capacity building is about: empowering people to help themselves.
Assistance provided so far
Empowering Student Associations
Goal: to provide training and lectures on basic civil society skills to student associations and informal student groups, supporting their organizational development.
ACED’s Centre for Capacity Building provides facility and capacity to student civil society organizations and other informal groups on topics that a) complement their current learning curricula, b) gain and expand their knowledge on civil society issues and c) increase the institutional capacity of their organizations.
Civil Society Organizations: Capacity Building
Goal: to provide training and grants to civil society organizations to increase their organizational and institutional capacities so they can serve their constituencies and influence public policies at the local level.
The Centre for Capacity Building designs and implements programmes that enhance CSO capacities and improve the performance of institutions for the purpose of democratic society development. With the provision of technical assistance and grants ACED builds institutional capacity and sustainability of CSOs and informal groups.
Trainings and Consultancy for NGOs
Goal: to provide NGOs and their management with tailored trainings and “on site” consultancy, enabling them to reach their full potential.
A pool of trainers and consultants from different fields, specialized in organizational development, provide the crucial assistance to NGOs and their management, enabling them to gain new knowledge and address concrete issues related to demanding civil society environment. ACED’s specialized training methodology and “on site” consultancy services are provided both – to groups and individuals.
Trainings for NGOs provided so far are from the following spheres:
- Basic organizational development and NGO management
- Project Cycle Management
- Project proposal writing
- Narrative and financial reporting
- Strategic planning
- Human resource management, Team building, Leadership, Motivation
- Awareness raising, advocacy and lobbying
- Network and coalition building
- Public and media relation, marketing
- Fund raising
Human Rights: People with Disabilities
Goal: to create stimulating conditions for disabled people, their families and associations for the disabled in BiH to overcome the role of marginalized group and become active members of society.
Through partnership with associations for the disabled, ACED implements programmes to: 1) Improve the legal framework for associations for the disabled and people with disabilities by generating and advocating for the adoption of key policy recommendations by government and parliament, 2) Build the institutional, organizational and technical capacity of associations for the disabled, 3) Increase awareness of the rights of disabled persons and 4) Strengthen links and cooperative relationships between organizations of the disabled throughout the country.
Gender Mainstreaming in Rural Areas
Goal: To raise awareness of gender issues, strengthen women’s roles and ensure their active participation in decision-making and strategic planning in their communities and thus facilitate their positive influence on the development of their local organizations and improvement of living conditions in rural communities.
In Bosnia’s society, women have always played a crucial role in agricultural production. Nowadays, however, they often do not have access to the social and economic opportunities offered by development programs in the country, nor do they have equal access to available resources as men do. The women’s representation in local agricultural organizations (farmer/producer associations) is almost always minimal. This limits the ability of women to participate, influence, and best contribute to the activities and strategies that affect them and their families.
Youth: Secondary School Student Councils
Goal: to increase the level of cooperation among students, Student Councils and their network, based on a common platform for promoting student interests that will contribute to their recognition by school, municipal and governmental authorities and enable the BiH Student Council Network to join regional and international unions of secondary school students.
Disproportional stage of SC development and lack of networking capacity has prevented students from different regions and entities to plan and execute joint actions for the benefit of the entire student population in BiH. As a contribution to the education reform in the past years, ACED, in partnership with the local NGO “OKC”, developed Student Councils (SC) in all secondary schools in Republika Srpska and assisted them in organising a secondary school student network called mRESURS. Using the same approach ACED and OKC assisted SCs in three Cantons of FBiH.
Youth: Rural Youth Development
Goal: to create an environment for young people in rural community groups to get more opportunities, programmes and services and thus enable them to participate as equal and valuable members in the social and economic life of their local community.
Young people, especially in remote war affected villages have not been able to get access to proper civil society education and capacity building. The lack of the basic leadership, citizenship and life skills prevent children and youth from reaching their full potential and developing into self-confident, caring and critical-thinking individuals. Building on its previous experiences in working with rural communities, ACED has developed a comprehensive action that will assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directed, productive members of society.
Vocational Skills & Career Guidance
Goal: to prepare students for their post-graduate careers and employment, guide them in their career planning, improvement of communication and presentation skills, and their personality development.
ACED’s Career Guidance Centre acts as a dual-function department offering vocational guidance and career preparation skills to students. Through its work, the SCGC assists students in planning and executing a plan of study that appropriately reflects students’ interests and motivation. The SCGC provides guidance regarding graduation requirements, transfer options, baccalaureate degrees, career planning, and personal decision making. Together with professional trainers, ACED provides expert help in career counselling – offering students vocation and profession preparation, supporting them to find jobs and helping them improve their position at work.