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Annual Meeting, Germany 2013

10 Years: A Network on the Move

02 A message from the hosts 03 learn4dev 04 It’s all about people 07 About the network 08 Expert Group reports 12 History of the network 15 Dialogue with the African Capacity Building Foundation 16 Keynote on learning 17 Essay 20 Workshop report 21 Dialogue with the hosts 23 Epilogue


A message from the hosts

Dear friends of learn4dev, participants in the Annual Meeting, members and observers This year’s Annual Meeting marked learn4dev’s 10th anniversary. During these 10 years, development cooperation policies and approaches have evolved and at the same time the learn4dev network has moved on. The series of High Level Forums (HLF) on Aid Effectiveness, culminating in 2011 at HLF4 in Busan, South Korea, has led to a paradigm shift ‘from effective aid to cooperation for effective development’. This shift acknowledges the need for a more prominent role for partner countries, and the complexity of development policy on the ground, such as the particular challenges in fragile situations and the political dimension of development. Learn4dev has moved along the same lines as the political agenda. Expert groups on ‘Capacity Development’, ‘Public Financial Management’, ‘Decentralisation and Local Governance’ and ‘Effective Electoral Assistance’ have contributed to the design of capacity development programmes to strengthen institutions and increase the competence of individuals.

New expert groups on ‘Fragility and Crisis Management’ and ‘Political Economy’ also reflect current political priorities in complex environments and the need for training in these fields. The cross-cutting ‘Gender’ and ‘Environment’ expert groups remain firmly at the heart of the network to provide expertise, mainstream learning content and open existing learning opportunities to donor organisations. The ‘Knowledge Management’ expert group is the resource for the latest developments in learning and support on learning methodologies. The network’s Expert Groups remain the backbone of learn4dev and in line with previous commitments, as stated in the 2005 Paris Declaration, it has extended its activities in areas such as donor harmonisation and efficiency gains. With the launch of our new website, we have significantly increased the availability of courses open to member organisations. While we were having our Annual Meeting in June, 20 new open courses were offered through the website compared

During the reporting period summer 2012 to summer 2013 the network counts

10 20 600 100 Expert Groups

Joint learning events organised by Expert Groups

Participants at the learning events

Open courses offered by Expert groups


New online courses

to just three in the same period last year. In total, more than 100 courses can be found on our website right now and the prospect is for more to come. Finally, this year we changed our name from ‘Train4Dev’ to ‘learn4dev’. This is more than a cosmetic change: it is to incorporate changes in the world of learning and its concepts, as an open two-way process between the learning provider and the learner. With expert groups providing learning expertise in the fields that matter, with an increased opening and sharing of learning resources and good practices, we are contributing to a ‘cooperation for effective development’. We are confident that in this way learn4dev will remain — and be acknowledged as — a key player in learning for development. Michael Schneider (Chair of learn4dev), Miguel-Angel Exposito-Verdejo (Expert Group Coordinator)


2004: Copenhagen (Denmark)

2006: Oegstgeest (Netherlands)

2005: Berlin (Germany)

2011: Brussels (Beglium)

2008: Washington (USA)

2014: Ljubljana (Slovenia)

2007: Sèvres (France)

2013: Bonn (Germany)

2010: Marseille (France) 2012: Turin (Italy)

Anna Downs Country: United Kingdom Organisation: DfID Main interests:

Public financial management, gender and education

Lawrencia Adams

Robin Poppe

Bart Horemans

Country: Ghana

Country: Italy

Country: Belgium

Learning and development

Innovations in organisational development, strategies and individual learning approaches, maximising learning outcomes and their impact, creating networks of cross fertilisation.

Programme management, leadership, learning and development, coaching Expert Groups

Organisation: LenCD Main interests:

Organisation: ITC-ILO Main interests:

Organisation: BTC Main interests:

Location of Annual Meetings in the last 10 years   Country of residence of attendees in 2013

2003: East Kilbride (United Kingdom)

2009: Holmenkollen (Norway)

It ’s all about people


Nadia von Holzen, SDC Switzerland

Nicola Arnold, GIZ Germany

Paul Riembault, EC Belgium

Petra Riedle, GIZ Germany

Polona Sirnik, CEF Slovenia

Raquel Rico-Bernabe, UNDP Brussels

Ricardo Cospedal, CEDDET Spain

Sue Wagner, Luxdev Luxembourg

Veronique Meyers, Luxdev Luxembourg

Yohana Kho, ADB Germany

Zdzisław Sośnicki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Poland

Miguel-Angel ExpositoVerdejo, EC Belgium

Michelle Söller, GIZ Germany

Michael Schneider, GIZ Germany

Michael Dohr, GIZ Germany

Paul Gosselink, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands

Sabine Gil, Luxdev Luxembourg

Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Mekonginstitute Thailand

Patrick Kalas, FAO Italy

Robin Poppe, ITC-ILO Italy

Margit Scherb, ADA Austria

Magdalena Moryl, GIZ Germany

Lawrencia Adams, LenCD Ghana

Kerstin Kude-Osman, GIZ Germany

Katharina Molitor, GIZ Germany

Katharina Flohm, GIZ Germany

Kadi Metsandi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Estonia

Jenny Pearson, Consultant United Kingdom

Jana Repansek, CEF Slovenia

Ingolf Schaefer, GIZ Germany

Godje Bialluch, GIZ Germany

Gérard van Bilzen, Consultant Netherlands

Frannie Léautier, ACBF Zimbabwe

Clive Martlew, DFID United Kingdom

Claude Croizer, BTC Belgium

Claire Aanes, GIZ Germany

Christoforos Korakas, EC Belgium

Charlotte Staats, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands

Charlotte Nager, SDC Switzerland

Carolin Gebel, Compass Orange, Germany

Benedetta Magri, ITC-ILO Italy

Beatrix Plock, GIZ Germany

Beata Kolecka, EC Belgium

Bart Horemans, BTC Belgium

Bakary Koné, ACBF Zimbabwe

Arianna Snijders, BTC Belgium

Anna Downs, DFID United Kingdom

Anna Boeckmann, GIZ Germany


Patrick Kalas

Robin Poppe, Jana Repansek

Maria Theresa Medialdia

Michael Dohr, Benedetta Magri, Michelle Sรถller, Sabine Gil, Robin Poppe

Bart Horemans

Sue Wagner

Snapshots from the meeting



About the network





Expert Groups Promote learning with practical approaches

Core Group Charts learn4dev’s future direction

Annual Meeting Decides the network’s strategic objectives

At the heart of the action

Three bodies underpin learn4dev’s achievements: the Expert Groups, the Core Group and the Annual Meeting. Learn4dev had its beginnings in a first workshop in Scotland in 2003 on competence development among donors. A year later, attendees at the second conference agreed the scope of future cooperation, and the network’s objectives and organisation. The organisational structure took some time to bed down but is now well established and has proven its effectiveness. Learn4dev operates through an Annual Meeting and a set of Expert Groups that work on priority topics. These topics are identified and endorsed at the Annual Meeting. The Core Group manages the organisa-

tion of this annual event and the overall coordination of the network. As an informal network, learn4dev has no membership fees and no official secretariat. Instead, members share responsibility for the network’s tasks by taking turns. Members become active by joining the Core Group and committing themselves to co-organise a learn4dev Annual Meeting. In general, members stay in the Core Group for three years — enough time to provide leadership for the network and to shape learn4dev’s future development. The Core Group typically meets four times a year and is

the motor that guides the network. Its challenge in the years to come will be to ensure effective communication and knowledge exchange as the network keeps on growing. The Core Group will have to adapt the network’s mission to ongoing changes in the field of development cooperation and to secure financial resources for competence development. Magdalena Moryl (GIZ)


Focus on expert groups

The expert groups — overview of achievements 2012-2013

The network’s 10 expert groups cover various thematic and methodological fields. Each year, their training events and workshops make a major contribution to innovation in the learning activities of member organisations. Capacity Development (CD)

Chair: GIZ

The Capacity Development group (CD) concentrated on further developing and applying the ‘Joint Learning Journey’ (JLJ) concept and held several joint events with other network members, such as in Switzerland on gender mainstreaming. The group organised a number of face-to-face and online courses on capacity development and provided learning material on the learn4dev website. The expert group started working with the LenCD capacity development network on a learning package including an e-learning course to be launched at the end of 2013. Decentralisation & Local Governance (DeLoG)

Chair: GIZ

In November 2012, the Decentralisation & Local Governance group (DeLoG) attracted 65 participants to Benin for an in-country joint learning event on harmonisation, decentralisation and local governance. Another training course for 45 staff from the network’s member organisations was organised in Thun, Switzerland. Finally, the group is developing an online decentralisation & local governance course for autumn 2013. Effective Electoral Assistance (EEA)

Chair: UNDP & EC EuropeAid

The expert group organised a thematic workshop on ‘Sustainability in Electoral Administration’, which took place in Maputo, Mozambique from 4-8 March 2013. It highlighted the costs and funding of elections and their impact on the sustainability and integrity of electoral administration. This joint initiative brought together around 200 participants from 45 countries and donor organisations. The group published a final report following the thematic workshop on ICT and Elections Management, which took place in March 2012 in Mombasa, Kenya gathering over 230 electoral practitioners from more than 60 countries and international and bilateral organisations. The report summarises the workshop presentations and discussions and will enable electoral practitioners to make more informed decisions about adopting or updating technology in their electoral processes. In March 2013, the expert group launched an e-learning course ‘Working together in electoral assistance: formulating and implementing electoral assistance projects within the framework of the EC-UNDP partnership’. This course adds to the two already existing e-learning courses produced by the group.


Chair: BTC

The learn4dev 2012 annual meeting decided to create an expert group on environment. The Belgian development agency BTC assumed the chair of the group with the mandate to explore potential partners and to define lines of action. The group has now been established with support from EuropeAid and GIZ. There is now a dedicated environment space on the network’s website, which publicises environmental courses offered by network members and provides online manuals and guidance. Upcoming actions will include further opening up of existing training courses and exploring the possibility of a general online course covering environment in development cooperation. Fragility & Conflict Management (FCM)

Chair: UNDP & EC EuropeAid

The group was formed on the eve of the annual meeting in June 2013. It is led by UNDP and the European Commission’s EuropeAid and receives backing from the World Bank, USAID and the US State Department. A first joint learning event on fragility will take place from 9 to 13 September in Brussels and with participants from all member organisations. The group has planned further joint training events in 2014, including an in-country event where donors in the chosen country will share experience on their approaches and good practices. The group has made available an e-learning course on ‘natural resources & conflict’, currently posted on the capacity4dev website and which will soon be added to the online courses on the learn4dev website. Gender

Chair: ITC-ILO & BTC

The group’s main aim is to improve training in the field of development cooperation on gender aspects. The group carried out two studies and published two reports: ‘Developing a Quality Certification for Train4Dev from the Gender Perspective’ and ‘PILOT - Gender Equality Score Card’. Based on the findings and recommendations of both reports, the group analysed and updated existing training material for the DeLoG and MfDR expert groups. In 2013, the Gender Group started a new initiative in response to a request of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) to organise a Joint Learning Journey on gender mainstreaming. LuxDev, BTC, ITC-ILO, ADA and Austrian civil society representatives took part in a productive two-day event. The group envisages running similar gender mainstreaming actions with the training material of other expert groups.


Knowledge Management & Sharing (KMS)

Chair: Netherlands MfA

Following the 2012 annual meeting, the knowledge management group created the network’s first Yammer group to promote a more efficient exchange of information on new learning technologies and trends. The group’s experience subsequently led to the creation of a learn4dev corporate space on Yammer, which has enhanced the network’s internal communication and efficiency. The KMS group will now lead the network in transferring its internal communication platform to the capacity4dev website, which will facilitate further harmonisation of development cooperation platforms and avoid duplication. This will also enable the network to have its expert group discussions on one corporate website and at the same time reach out to a larger development community interested in the field of learning. Managing for Development Results (MfDR)

Chair: Netherlands MfA

Since the 2012 annual meeting, the group has organised three Joint Learning Events in Lesotho, Ukraine and Ghana with a total of 101 participants. The Ukraine event was a regular three-day Joint Learning Event, while in Ghana it was tailored to Ghana’s decentralisation context. The Lesotho course was a follow-up to three previous Lesotho events on managing for development results. During a two-week retreat, representatives of all key ministries in Lesotho enhanced their skills on results-based monitoring and evaluation, and developed their own results-based monitoring frameworks. The group also produced learning packages on managing for development results in English, French, Spanish and Russian. Its training material was revised in the light of a gender mainstreaming analysis by the Gender expert group. Three more Joint Learning Events are planned before February 2014 and the group is aiming to have all its courses ‘gender-certified’ in collaboration with the gender expert group. Political Economy for Practitioners (PEP)

Chair: SDC

The learn4dev expert group on Political Economy for Practitioners (PEP) emerged at the 2012 annual meeting from the previous Pro-Poor Growth (PPG) group. Member and donor organisations had been becoming increasingly interested in the subject and were looking for suitable learning possibilities in this field. The PPG group consequently decided in July 2012 to transform the PPG course into a joint learning programme ‘Political Economy for Practitioners’ (PEP). In 2012, the group focussed on establishing the new group’s structure before in 2013 it started designing the course and organising the first learning event. The expert group met in Berne, Switzerland, in February 2013 to share existing experiences and knowledge across the organisations. The concept for the ‘Political Economy for Practitioners’ course is now developed and will be converted into modules and a trainer’s manual. A first learning event is planned to take place in August 2013. The group will also prepare guidance, manuals, online content, e-learning and a trainer’s guide for the implementation of each course. Public Financial Management (PFM)


Since its creation, the focus of the Public Financial Management (PFM) group has been to give access to the vast array of existing training possibilities in this field and to organise joint learning programmes for staff of member organisations. During the reporting period, the group organised 11 joint learning programmes for 226 participants on public financial management and procurement. DANIDA’s e-learning courses on public financial management & procurement were made available to the public and existing learning material was analysed and published on the learn4dev website. In 2013, the group is planning another seven joint learning programmes and will extend access to existing learning material and courses. Miguel-Angel Exposito-Verdejo (Expert Group Coordinator)

Expert groups are the backbone of the learn4dev network. Each one consists of at least three network member organisations combining their efforts to work on a specific topic. Some groups develop new learning programmes and material while others focus on knowledge sharing and providing wider access to existing learning opportunities. Besides regular exchange among members, each group selects a leader to represent the expert group and to report on its activities at learn4dev’s Annual Meeting. Several expert groups cooperate on cross-cutting issues such as learning approaches and gender mainstreaming. The network currently has 10 expert groups covering a variety of thematic and methodological fields. Expert group outputs and activities fall into the following categories: Open courses: existing courses of a member organisation are made available to all network members, if possible with special conditions such as reduced fees. Joint Learning Events: learning programmes are jointly developed and delivered by several network members of an expert group. Development of e-learning courses: development of online learning courses and resources. Methodological support and guidance: preparation of manuals and guidance on the development of learning programmes and material. During the reporting period, the network’s expert groups ran 20 joint learning events with more than 600 participants. The groups also offered more than 100 open courses through its new website, marking a significant increase. As an illustration, there were only three open courses during the period June to early-July 2012 compared with 19 in the corresponding period in 2013. The expert groups produced four new online courses and drew up specific guidance on gender mainstreaming and on the ‘joint learning journey’ approach.

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The history of the network

Looking back… 2003






The very first meeting in the history of the network takes place in September in East Kilbride, Scotland. The UK Department for International Development (DfID) which organises the event, calls it the ‘Like-Minded Donors Training Conference’. Building on the results of the 2002 UN International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, the first meeting aims to improve cooperation between donors in the area of training and development. Attendees include delegations from the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and individual representatives from Finland, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Greece and Belgium. Between them, they identify topics for joint learning programmes.

Denmark’s development cooperation organisation, DANIDA, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) organise in Copenhagen the ‘2nd Donor Workshop on Competence Development and Staff Training’. The European Commission, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the World Bank are new delegations to join the network, which now calls itself ‘Train4Dev’. The network’s mission is to improve aid effectiveness for poverty reduction through enhanced donor cooperation in the field of competence development and training. A core planning group is set up to steer the activities of the other sub-groups.

At the third conference, in Berlin, attendees agree on a charter for the network, covering objectives, membership and structure and organisation. Four sub-groups report on their joint initiatives during the previous year. ‘Public Financial Management’ and ‘Crisis Prevention and Peace Building’ are established as new sub-groups. New attendees at this meeting come from the World Bank Institute, the UN Staff College, Hungary and France. It is organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

‘Harmonise Actions to Create Competences’ is the slogan for the meeting in Paris, arranged by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID). At this conference, members decide formally to elect a chairperson for the network, whose mandate is limited to one year. ‘Pro-Poor Growth’ is a new sub-group. The International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) join the network.

Train4Dev continues to grow with many new members joining the Annual Meeting in Oslo, which is once more organised by the Scandinavian members. New to the network are: the Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation (LuxDev), Slovenia’s Centre for Excellence in Finance (CEF), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This meeting takes the important decision to implement a clear reporting mechanism to better document the activities of sub-groups.

At the Turin meeting, hosted by the International Training Centre of the ILO and the Austrian Development Agency, members discuss the outcomes of the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which was also attended by a Train4Dev delegation. Network members decide to rename the network ‘learn4dev’, convinced by the argument that joint learning, rather than traditional training, is much more in line with the requirements of capacity development in the postBusan era. The network’s very first publication — ‘Methodological Guide on Design, Implementation and Evaluation of Joint Learning Events’ - is presented.


...and moving forward. Why do we need learn4dev and why should we keep up the network’s activities? Learn4dev in 2020, only 7 years from now. The Annual Meeting is taking place in Harare, Zimbabwe, with the African Capacity Building Foundation as host. Or will we rather come together at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia? Wherever it will be, the Core Group of the network will continue discussing the issue of strategic partnerships, linking up to other networks, involving civil society organisations and partner countries. The value of the expert groups comes from the abilities of their diverse membership and the network’s ability as a whole to adapt continuously to changes in the world of development cooperation. Power shifts in international relations do not threaten learn4dev, which thrives on exchange of information, harmonisation and effi-

ciency. At Annual Meetings, the network has learned to value the inputs and contributions of observers from regions other than Europe. Even though the Core Group has long been open to any interested member — whether from America, Asia or Africa — up until 2013 it has really been European organisations at the forefront of the network, with substantial support from the World Bank Institute and Canada. This will change and become a major point of discussion in the period from now to 2020. Will we see regional chapters constituted or will we be linking up to already existing networks? We have established a website that is attracting more and more visitors, and more and more offers of training events, learning programmes and exchange platforms. A continuous stream of new and upcoming events is accessible through learn4dev’s website, all of which is attracting new members, interested clients and participants for learning journeys and open courses. Learn4dev is a cradle for new ideas. It is well-established among other

networks and is a reference point for learning in development cooperation. With an appealing profile, learn4dev is the network for donor competence development and a network for competence in capacity development. It has attracted financial support and the interest of member organisations who invest time and money in the work of the Core Group, in expert groups and in the website. Regular evaluations allow us to make the necessary adaptations and contribute to an increasing quality in the programmes delivered and promoted under the learn4dev name and logo. But some things will not change, the things that have always consolidated the network and that are at its heart: the motivation of interested individuals, inspiring and creative leaders and what we call the ‘three Cs’ of the network: curiosity, competence and commitment. Michael Schneider (GIZ)


Dialogue with the African Capacity Building Foundation

Bakary Koné, Michael Schneider, Frannie Léautier


Going regional Michael Schneider: Dear Frannie, dear Bakary, it was a great pleasure to welcome you at this year’s Annual Meeting. Would you share with us what made you decide to come all the way to Germany to attend the meeting? Frannie Léautier: There are three main reasons for me as to why being part of the learn4dev community is important. The first is that I believe that development is a learning business and learning is development. The second is that the learn4dev work has proven that the emergence of new ideas gives rise to new opportunities to learn and share lessons and therefore we keep the momentum. And lastly, the leadership and the calibre of people in the learn4dev network. They are key people in development and I have an opportunity to participate, share and also learn. Bakary Koné: The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) operates in two main ways: first, supporting capacity building initiatives through grants and technical assistance, and second, sharing knowledge to inform the development process across Africa. Learn4dev seemed to ACBF to be a forum to support us in this work, where we could interact with development and knowledge practitioners and with whom we could explore new avenues that would add value to our work in Africa. Indeed, most countries across the African continent are today looking for ways to transform the steady growth they have achieved over the last decade into sustainable and transformational development. So knowledge sharing on best practices that have led to significant progress elsewhere — as well as emerging development issues — are of a critical importance to these countries. As a forum that promotes joint learning and competence development, we felt that learn4dev would offer excellent opportunities to reassess our own capacity building tools through exchange with other actors and also to build the necessary partnerships that would avoid

duplication and scale up development results. This explains why I decided to travel all the way from Zimbabwe to Bonn. Michael Schneider: Personally, I have always felt that an annual meeting of only two days is too short to fulfil all the expectations that old and new members — and observers such as you — might have. What is your perception? Bakary Koné: I agree that two days is a bit short to do all that we would like to do: take stock of lessons learned since the previous meeting, network with other participants to take advantage of the learning opportunities each experience offers, discuss strategies for the future and give new members time to interact. Maybe three days would provide for better interaction at a slower pace. One day could be reflective, the second dedicated to new ideas and innovation and the third day for the future and the way forward. Michael Schneider: Frannie, I learned that you have been following the network’s activities for quite some years. After having participated actively in discussions with members of the network, do you see a particular value in tightening the linkages between ACBF and learn4dev? Frannie Léautier: It is important to remember that ACBF and learn4dev both support networks and I believe that both institutions have a lot in common to share, improve and scale up. ACBF both supports and creates networks. When one looks at the very reason ACBF was created, it was to support and to build up indigenous capacities on the continent. Over the last 22 years, ACBF has dealt with a wide range of different sectors where capacity needs have been identified, whether it is raising skills in university partnerships or supporting regional economic communities to expand markets to allow economic growth. ACBF has its Strategic Study Groups, which create a space for learning among like-minded people and for innovation to become the basis for learning. I see a great opportunity with learn4dev in this respect. We have recently worked alongside the African Development Bank and the African Community of Practice in cooperation with the Managing for Development Results expert group (MfDR). This is a network of practitioners committed to enhancing the capabilities of the public and private sectors and civil society to effectively engage and improve policy formulation and management. It promotes evidence-based decision-making and transparency in the use of public resources for

effective and tangible service delivery. Lastly, having watched learn4dev grow since my previous work at the World Bank, I can clearly see the value for ACBF and learn4dev of sharing their knowledge, expertise and lessons. Michael Schneider: Learn4dev wants to be seen as a donors competence network with members from all over the world. But travelling is costly and not all members will be able to attend the meetings that take place in Europe. What is your position regarding the idea of forming regional learn4dev chapters and what might be the consequences? Frannie Léautier: There is a lot of value in linking up and creating regional chapters. Firstly, regional chapters would make it easier to bring people together, and secondly, regional chapters can reach out to local networks to learn lessons on the ground. That way innovation is faster. ACBF is really keen to see the establishment of regional chapters where we can communicate virtually and get together more frequently to discuss regional issues. Bakary Koné: Creating regional chapters could add a lot of value to the learn4dev platform as they could provide an opportunity to deepen discussions among the members. Regional chapters can communicate virtually and share activities. However, it would also be good that all members meet face to face twice a year to consolidate the progress made by regional chapters. Michael Schneider: Would you agree that joint donor initiatives in the field of competence development are welcome in the community of development practitioners? To what degree do you, representing ACBF, see yourself as a part of learn4dev? Frannie Léautier: Firstly, let me emphasise that each stakeholder in the development field should continually want to improve their own competence, whether you are a donor, a recipient or a development practitioner. This striving for improvement enables development activities to cover all the main areas of competence. At ACBF, we are keen to see to what degree we can join learn4dev and become a contributor. ACBF’s raison d’etre is to continually create spaces for collaboration and generate a dialogue that will help the continent’s move towards poverty reduction. The creation of ACBF was in response to the severity of Africa’s capacity needs, and the challenge of investing in indigenous human capital and institutions. ACBF is also a coordinating mechanism for donor support to capacity building on the continent, by pooling resources and having common governance and reporting systems. Michael Schneider: Bakary, you contributed a lot to the discussions during the various sessions. I hope you enjoyed the interaction with the representatives from all the different countries. What is it that struck you most and what will you especially remember from the meeting? Bakary Koné: I definitely enjoyed the interaction and was happy to learn from others. I was also pleased to note that ACBF is doing work that others can learn from. My lasting memory will be that I very much liked the informal and easy-going atmosphere of the meeting which facilitated the in-depth discussions and reflection. Michael Schneider (GIZ), Frannie Léautier (ACBF), Bakary Koné (ACBF)


An informal network on the move

Former Core Group member Margit Scherb has been active in the network for many years. In her essay, she reflects on the Joint Learning Journey approach as well as the future of learn4dev. Margit Scherb


I don’t know exactly when ‘Learning Journey’ became a buzzword for the network. The term appeared together with ‘Capacity Development’ in 2011 or 2012 and has its present home at the GIZ. One could consider the network itself to be a Learning Journey, travelled mainly by representatives of bilateral donors and international agencies, the European Union, the World Bank system and the UN family. They have all journeyed at least part of the way together. From the early beginnings of joint training events at various headquarters of bilateral donors, the activities of the network have changed tremendously. Nowadays, the Joint Learning Events developed by expert groups and held mainly in partner countries help implement the Paris Declaration and ensure effective development. But next to these popular highways, there are many other interesting roads in learn4dev: the joint development and use of e-learning courses, and the bilateral transfer of knowledge and experiences between similar donors, to name just a couple. These are valuable spin-offs of the network that also contribute to ‘donor harmonisation’, one of the network’s goals as stated in its charter.

Newcomers to the network might ask themselves which road they should take to explore learn4dev and to find the activities they could contribute to, and benefit from. There is a charter and its by-laws are not so complicated to follow: there is no membership card and you do not have to pay membership fees. There is no predetermined way to get to know the network. Think about what you need and what you could contribute, and then find at least one companion. By your second Annual Meeting, — at the latest — you will be asked to chair an expert group and to organise the Annual Meeting two years hence! Learn4dev has a fluid nature and is driven by magical powers. Some members have been taking part in the Joint Learning Journey for many years while others leave the network mid-journey, victims of the umpteenth reorganisation of their institutions (in so many months!). Other very active former members have either been posted to the Democratic Republic of Congo or retired. But there is always a ‘hard core group’ which carries the rucksack filled with new websites, communication strategies to implement, and which strives for efficient knowledge management.

Learning Journeys in the years to come

All types of donors should keep their eyes open to the fact that their role will have to change dramatically in the future. Joint Learning Journeys of partners and donors could start to think about new roles beyond traditional development cooperation. The learn4dev expert group on Political Economy is already a good sign for the re-politi-

cisation of development cooperation. Still, to analyse the political economy on their own would most likely exceed the capacities of learn4dev’s member organisations. Another complicated but less controversial subject in the network is knowledge management. For this, the Learning Journey could be built around the new website (thanks to GIZ!) and deal with the common challenges all expert groups face. It is important not to strive for perfection, but rather for practical and tangible results. Given the plethora of materials at their disposal, expert groups could create and maintain a quality-controlled resource base, centred on new forms of learning for users of the website.

Forever young

As an ‘informal network’ learn4dev lives in some way from hand to mouth. As long as the European Commission and one big bilateral donor contribute in cash and in kind to the network, smaller donors can flock around and contribute too. As long as the network is guided by inclusiveness and is able to prove its usefulness to members, it will live on at least another ten years. Here’s to many more Joint Learning Journeys! Margit Scherb (ADA)


Keynote on learning

Emerging dimensions and practices in learning

group processes to bring out and honour the implicit knowledge and wisdom of groups; and innovative options being opened up by technology. So there is a slow shift in practice from events to journeys, i.e. developing a process approach. Within this, good practice calls for learning to be: — An explicit intention linked to a purpose, rather than a vague assumption within other activities; — Allocated sufficient time and resources; — Embedded in all aspects of programmes and projects, not treated as an optional add on; and — Meaningful and appropriate to the culture and context — there is no one-size-fits-all that can be applied to learning.

Kadi Metsandi, Clive Martlew

Our understanding of learning currently embraces some important new insights to inform practice, including that learning is about changes in attitudes, behaviour, knowledge, systems, etc. It is inextricably linked with knowledge sharing and capacity development. Each is a capacity in its own right and essential for the acquisition of other capacities. Learning is essential for any individual or entity to survive and thrive within complex systems. It is also a value-based process grounded in culture and context. Social logic will define the purpose of learning and which sources are valued, and the learning methods that are appropriate for the members of that society. These new insights and understanding have led to a recognition that there needs to be a different ‘who’ and ‘how’ for learning in the development sector. With regard to the ‘who’, it is no longer just about individuals in a transfer from expert to pupil or a simple one-way flow from North to South. Effective learning for sustainable change is a shared, mutual, multi-faceted process among all the stakeholders concerned with any given topic. Going beyond individuals means we also have to consider learning for multiple levels and linkages within systems and societies, including organisations, groups, communities of practice, networks, sectors, governments, global alliances, etc. The Nobel Laureate for economics Joseph Stiglitz is even talking about the complexities of globalisation now creating the need for learning societies. Changes to the ‘how’ of learning arise from the recognition that assumptions that didactic learning methods lead to change are flawed. While formal education and training are still very important methods for some, they aren’t the answer for all needs. Responses need to go beyond traditional approaches. The focus now is on open processes such as experiential and action learning;

Jenny Pearson

The new trends in learning are clearly open processes, group processes and innovative options opened up by technology. However, to implement the new learning, proper follow up is needed, no matter what the learning method.

Working with a learning cycle is an effective way to meet many of the requirements for a good learning process. The steps of a learning cycle would normally be: learning needs assessment; goal and objective setting; activities; follow-up; and review. For the activities stage, a wide range of experiential and action learning methods have been shown to be effective, together with e-learning and a number of very successful group processes. But all too often there is no follow-up, and this lack of follow-up significantly impacts on a learner’s ability to implement their new learning in the workplace. All methods, however, are dependent on working with open minds and hearts willing to change. Learning is not only technical; it is also social and emotional. The challenge for those of us who have understood the need to change is how to put our new understanding into practice, and not just use new names for the same old activities. Jenny Pearson (Consultant)



Dialogue with the future hosts

Michael Schneider

The 2014 Annual Meeting will be jointly organised by the Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In this interview, Jana Repansek (CEF) and Charlotte Nager (SDC) share their thoughts on learning and why learn4dev is needed.

Michael Schneider: Charlotte, this was the first time you participated in an annual meeting of learn4dev. What was the most surprising experience you had? Charlotte Nager: As a newcomer to learn4dev, of course, many things surprised me. I have to say that probably the most impressive surprise was the readiness of all the participants to share experiences and to learn from each other. I found it remarkable to attend a meeting where the focus was put not on the success of specific activities, but really on learning and exchange. In this process, the activities served rather as food for thought and discussion, not as on many other occasions as food for competition. Another point was not really a surprise but rather a sigh: learning does not necessarily lead automatically to change. To share this awareness may be frustrating, but it can challenge insights. To hear about completely different approaches from a multitude of specialists is a very inspiring experience. Michael Schneider: Jana, we both met for the first time at the Annual Meeting in Oslo 2009. What developments have you seen in the network besides the fact that we have changed the name from Train4Dev to learn4dev? Jana Repanšek: First, let me speak about how I have experienced the network in these four years. I see it as my personal learning journey to understanding what capacity development and change management are really all about. In Oslo, I was so glad to meet other like-minded people with very similar motivations and goals. I then realised that I can learn more effectively by being part of a network. This way I can also help my institution to learn faster. I became part of a support network that meets once a year but stays in close contact in the meantime. We are advisors to each other and together we can better reach our goals in international development. In this context, I observed that we as a network have started to pay

Jana Repanšek, Charlotte Nager

Learning can be fun but it can hurt too

more attention to the fact that one learns when one is involved. We pay more attention to understanding how capacity is developed and how to learn effectively. It would be a good idea to put even more emphasis on methodologies and learning tools in the future and here the ‘Capacity Development’ and ‘Knowledge Management & Sharing’ expert groups can play a special role in supporting other learn4dev expert groups. Michael, I have a question for you: what is your experience with learning journeys and writing a learning journal? Michael Schneider: I am quite familiar with this method. There are three major aspects I would like to mention. Firstly, you put the learner into a more active role. Instead of a situation in which every participant receives a manual, the same hand-outs or learner guides, you provide them with an empty booklet and ask them to complete the story themselves. You actively put the learner into the driver’s seat. The learner becomes the owner of the learning process. Secondly, I have myself been filling one journal after another since I learned this technique during the days when I was working in Mali in the 1990s. I have observed that more and more people have started doing this, even though since then electronic devices have spread everywhere. Recording something and going through the script afterwards is a form of reflective practice that I have learned to appreciate over the years. Thirdly, it is crucial to be led by good questions. And, as we all have experienced, it is not easy to ask good questions. So, even though I enjoyed going through my journal records afterwards and reflecting on my emotions and remembering the situations, I do think we could have done better with the formulation of questions. What we also failed to do in some way was to summarise at the end of the two days the intention we had when we introduced the journal and what to do with it at a later time.


Jana Repanšek (CEF), Charlotte Nager (CEF), Michael Schneider (GIZ)

Transforming knowledge into political action

The terms ‘transforming’, ‘knowledge’, ‘political’ and ‘action‘ are important in their own right, with different interpretations possible, but combining them into one sentence made the debate of our break-away group explode. Finally, it was agreed to concentrate on ‘knowledge’, or the experiences and messages of the learn4dev network, in relation to ‘policy-makers’. The group agreed that the ‘experiences and messages’ of the network had to be presented to the outside world in a sharper and more convincing way. The network should communicate the very positive examples it has in a more convincing format. ‘Branding’ is the word that summarises it best. This seems even more important at a time when the international development debate will address the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals. The network’s core messages on the importance of Joint Learning Events and Journeys for harmonisation and alignment should get a place in this debate. And learn4dev should strive to get the recognition for its contributions. In addition, the communication effort should also work towards making learn4dev become a real learning organisation, by producing a written guide for example. With respect to ‘policymakers’, two different levels were discussed: our

Gérard van Bilzen

The title of this break-away group offered some tantalising possibilities for a debate. In the end, the focus was on ‘knowledge’ and ‘policymakers’. Bart Horemans

Charlotte Nager: I agree with your analysis regarding the learning journal. All the same, when I now read my journal entries from the meeting, it is interesting to see how accurate the entries are. If you allow me to ask out of curiosity, what is it that you conclude from your records in your learning journal? Michael Schneider: Thank you very much for asking and giving me the opportunity to share with you my final notes regarding the question ‘What have you learned at the Annual Meeting about what you think you should let go?’ It actually surprised me to read my answer: ‘The belief that organisations will change without being able or prepared to change myself.’ To me, this is a crucial statement as I often observed that we all have a slight tendency to identify others, or even the prevailing conditions and the formal institutions, to be responsible for failures and setbacks instead of giving ourselves a push and changing our habits or even our behaviour. Jana Repanšek: I agree that we have to be prepared to change first before we can expect others to change. Michael Schneider: Now, looking at the network’s objectives, I see three major goals that we have: sharing experiences and learning from each other; promoting joint learning of others; and contributing to efficiency in the field of competence development. As you will be the ones to organise next year’s Annual Meeting, do you already have an idea of what you would like to focus on? Jana Repanšek: My institution focuses on learning and regional cooperation. Therefore, our intention is to continue promoting participatory approaches to learning. At the same time, we want to put additional effort into increasing learn4dev membership and cooperation among members. Charlotte Nager: For SDC, the sharing of experiences, joint learning and the transfer of knowledge to practice is an institutional goal. I think learn4dev — with the specific knowledge of the network’s members, but also the practical experiences of the expert groups — offers a large variety of possible joint insights to these subjects. Therefore, we would also like to involve the expert groups actively, not only for their activities, but mostly for their learning experiences. Michael Schneider: Thank you very much, Charlotte. After having had the opportunity to exchange ideas and reflect on future challenges to the network with other participants at the Annual Meeting, what would you say that members expect the Core Group to produce in terms of results? Charlotte Nager: I would say that — besides coordinating the network and the activities of the expert groups and preparing the Annual Meeting — the Core Group is also expected to discuss strategic options for the network, to synthesise these discussions and to submit proposals to members at the next meeting. Jana Repanšek: Michael, after your first year as chairperson of the network and looking forward to another year in this position, what conclusions do you draw from this year’s meeting? Michael Schneider: That is not a simple question but let me try to summarise. I believe that we have been able to prove that learn4dev is relevant as a network, as a competence development network for donors in particular, and that we do not want to be an exclusive club of Europeans. We need to establish working relationships with competence developers from other continents, through the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the Mekong Institute in Thailand, for example. Capacity development is presently high on the international agenda but, nevertheless, resources allocated to training and learning, to staff development, to cooperation and knowledge sharing are scarce and need to be defended. And finally, looking at international politics and present practice, I still feel that many people seem to be acquiring and accumulating knowledge without really learning. To learn requires an effort. Learning can be fun but it can also hurt when it comes to power shifts and changes of attitude.

Workshop report

own hierarchy and ‘political decisionmakers’. For the first group, it would be important to have a short, sharp and convincing information pack demonstrating the network’s achievements not in an isolated way, but in clear relation to their political priorities at this time. The network should show that it can clearly contribute to these objectives. One of the hot issues of the day is austerity and budget cuts: the network could show that developing courses together reduces overall costs considerably. Introducing joint learning also implies a better guarantee for the success of the investments for which these people are responsible: doing more and better with less. For the same — or even lower — costs, the overall quality of the learning process can be improved. A measurable impact on the international development debate could be achieved with ‘development champions’ to act as network spokespersons and securing recognition for the work developed by learn4dev. Gérard van Bilzen (Ambassador), Bart Horemans (BTC)

Kadi Metsandi

Yohana Kho, Lawrencia Adams

Beata Kolecka

Paul Gosselink, Robin Poppe, Maria Theresa Medialdia

Charlotte Staats, Veronique Meyers

Frannie Léautier, Maria Theresa Medialdia, Charlotte Staats

Hier steht eine kurze Erläuterung zu den Bildern. esed min ped quam la quis maxim reium quias

Claire Aanes, Jana Repanšek, Claude Croizer, Ricardo Cospedal

Snapshots from the meeting




Continue reading on our website. At, you will find more interesting articles about the Annual Meeting in Bonn and detailed information on courses offered by learn4dev members.

Thank you for your commitment Our 2013 Annual Meeting marked our 10th anniversary. It was an excellent opportunity to reflect on our past achievements and our aims for the future. As the network has grown since 2003, development cooperation has been changing too. Discussion on post-2015 development goals is well advanced. The report of the high-level panel provides a solid basis. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, set up after the High Level Forum in Busan in 2011, is redefining our approach to development effectiveness. At the same time, several donors have reviewed their development programmes and working practices, to focus more on drivers of change and results. To be able to meet high-level political commitments, our institutions need to ensure that their experts in the partner countries have the knowledge and tools they need, and can work together. Hence, the key role of training and knowledge management. By working together, and developing joint approaches and courses and opening up training to other partners in the network, we better understand each other and enhance cooperation on joint projects. Cooperation within learn4dev helps our member institutions face the challenge of improving efficiency: ‘doing more and better with fewer resources’. We can pool our efforts to learn more from each other’s best practices and experiences with new learning trends and apply division of labour in developing courses. The Annual Meeting confirmed the interest of the network’s members in strengthening the value of learn4dev for

Impressum Sponsoring: European Commission Editing: Magdalena Moryl (GIZ) Photography: Mara Monetti Concept and Layout: Crolla Lowis

the member institutions, and in reflecting and working together on the skills and knowledge our organisations will need in the coming years. We also acknowledged the need to widen our membership base and sharpening learn4dev’s profile, while connecting with other networks. Lastly, on a personal level for all participants, the Annual Meeting was a very useful learning experience and a great opportunity for networking. Effective learning and networking across the expert groups is an important cornerstone of learn4dev. The Annual Meeting in June 2014 in Slovenia will provide another opportunity. In preparation for this annual event, the Core Group members will look at the best ways of using the input and feedback received in Bonn. In particular, our focus will be on further strengthening expert groups by sharing their experience and achievements. Another important goal will be to ensure that this accumulated knowledge is effectively transferred to member institutions. The expert groups on ‘Capacity Development’ and Knowledge Management and Sharing’ can play a key role by giving advice and facilitating knowledge sharing on appropriate tools and methodologies. Beata Ko łecka (EC), Jana Repanšek (CEF)

learn4dev Annual Meeting 2013  

Welcome to the 10th anniversary newspaper of learn4dev, the network for joint competence development.