Yet Another E-Learning Course "Activities of a Member of the Local Council: Needs of the Territorial Community - Priorities - Implementation" of the On-line Community of Local Self-Government Practices has Completed

Totally, 215 participants enrolled in the e-learning course; 105 persons successfully completed their studies, 80 of which have become members of local councils in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the others intend to take part in local elections in the future.
During the period of 1 to 30 June 2016, on the electronic platform "On-Line Community of Practices of Local Self-Government" at udl.despro.org.ua, the training was offered to members of councils of the amalgamated territorial communities and persons intending to take part in local elections in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. To implement the e-learning, with the assistance of the DESPRO Swiss-Ukrainian Decentralisation Support Project in Ukraine, the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Institute of Public Administration of the National Academy of Public Administration at the President of Ukraine, in cooperation with the Dnipropetrovsk Office for Reforms developed the relevant e-learning course: "Activities of a Member of the Local Council: Needs of the Territorial Community - Priorities - Implementation".

Attention should be paid to the fact that, in general, the membership of local councils has significantly refreshed in Ukraine. About 40 % of village heads and town and city mayors (in particular, headmen), 40 - 60 % of members of local (village, Rayon, city, Oblast) councils, at any next elections, are elected for the first time; many of them have not yet obtained higher education, which fact means that they lack relevant experience and the need for education, system-based professional improvement and obtaining new skills and capacities to successfully carry out the activities of a member of the local council. Therefore, the regional e-learning course "Activities of a Member of the Local Council: Needs of the Territorial Community - Priorities - Implementation" that was offered for study became specifically relevant just at this stage of the local self-government formation when the processes of decentralisation and establishment of amalgamated territorial communities are going on, the institute of headmen is being formed, and there has come a new cohort of members of local councils who are young and lack knowledge of all subtleties of their work.
The curriculum of this e-learning course contained subjects related to the reformation of the power structure in Ukraine, European and domestic experience of reforms implemented in the local self-government, formation of management competencies of a member of the local council in terms of determining the development priorities of the community and the ability to apply innovative management tools to increase the efficiency of his or her activities, organisational and behavioural aspects of activities of a member of the local council as the representative of interests of the territorial community.
During the training course, the participants had an opportunity to discuss common problems and prospects of activities of a member of the local council on two thematic forums: "Activities Supporting Tools of a Member of the Local Council" and "Peculiarities of Communication by a Member of the Local Council". The results of discussions show that there is significant interest raised by the subjects pertaining to cooperation of communities, determination of possibilities and hindrances in the implementation of local initiatives, peculiarities of the long-term planning of territories, matters of arranging for a communication system of a member of the local council with the community and non-governmental organisations, chairman of the council, the executive committee, headmen, and, even, other member colleagues.
And this is no surprise, since the appearance of relevant topics for discussion by the participants who are learning on the forums is determined by the realities of modern life, that is, the situation in the country and its regions, the changes in the regulatory framework and the government's policy, and the reforms that have been, are being, and will be implemented, in particular, in the local self-government.
The key ideas for the establishment of the e-learning course included the following: to unite the members of local councils and experts of local self-government in the Dnipropetrovsk region; provide an opportunity to the participants of the e-learning course to discuss the most urgent issues pertaining to the development of territorial communities, prospects of their amalgamation, the role and place of a member of the local council in the processes of power structure reforming and regarding the matters of local development, understanding the specific character of his or her activities; ensure access by the participants to the consultations provided by experts of various levels regarding the solution of urgent problems keeping in mind that the appropriate sustenance and quality of life are to be ensured in the communities - actually, all are concerned about the same things, that is, the ecology (in particular, solid waste management), energy saving, water supply and sanitation, healthcare, education (mostly, secondary education in rural areas), and others. The major tasks of the e-learning included the creation of conditions for generating by the participants of the training course of new ideas in the area of dealing with problems of the community development, preparation of relevant draft regulatory legal instruments, organisational and administrative documents, and policy papers.
The target audience included the members of local councils themselves, officials of the local self-government, active members of the community, and representatives of non-governmental organisations in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (Region) intending to participate in elections.
A tool set of the e-learning platform was used for the development and enhancement of the creative work of the communities of practices, including: facilitation of discussions in the forums; targeted communication of tutors and facilitators with the participants; development of an evaluation system (module testing, evaluation by tutors of the practical task comprised of two parts; evaluation by facilitators of constructive communications in the forums; scores assigned by the tutors for diligence during the training course; scores assigned by the experts for diligence in specialty forums; routine and final testing).
Totally, 215 participants enrolled in the e-learning course; 105 persons successfully completed their studies, 80 of which (76 %) have become members of local councils, the others intend to take part in local elections in the future. More than 50 % of the participants (more than 70 persons) were scored high, which fact proves their high motivation to study and improve own competencies.
Throughout the entire training course, the participants obtained expert support in specialty forums. In the Experts’ Room, about 380 questions and answers were examined, in the Room of Representatives of the Regional Office for Reforms, more than 50, and in the Legal Aid Office, more than 115.
Approximately 100 grateful and inspiration messages were posted in the Forum of Impressions and Wishes. Speaking about their impressions and the usefulness of the course, actually, all participants emphasised that they got much new knowledge in various areas of activities of a member of the local council, much useful and interesting information, advice, and answers to their questions. The common thread of the Forum of Wishes was the necessity of long-term planning of community development, that is, in fact, one of the top-priority tasks for the community.