JINJA, November 5, 2013 – Miles away from the town’s central business district, construction of the permanent home for Civil Service College of Uganda (CSCU) has begun.
The college, created to provide special training to public officers, was set up in 2010 under the World Bank Public Service Performance Enhancement Project with a loan of $23 million. It is part of the government’s phased plan to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public service. Through its five core learning programs, a total of 1,121 public officers have been trained since 2012. The training has led to increased understanding of leadership practices, change management, innovation management, competence based recruitment and retirement planning. This has translated into improved strategic leadership and management, common ethos and shared values, ethics, accountability as well as selection and recruitment of competent public officers.
A core of service excellence focused leaders and change agents is emerging. This has been achieved at a minimal cost using the “caravan” approach, in which the mobile training van travels to meet trainees at locations nearer to them. The training has also led to improved networking in government through forming a community of leaders and professionals such as Network of Tomorrows Uganda (NTUPS).
For Silver Mwesigwa, speaker of the Isingiro District in western Uganda who recently attended leadership training, the college course offerings couldn’t have come at a better time.
“These workshops have come at the right time when we have continued to see stories in the media of in-fighting and conflicts either between politicians or politicians and civil servants in some of our districts,” Mwesigwa said. “This has been one of the greatest challenges to service delivery, as was noted at the workshop.”
The National Development Plan (NDP) and the Policy Paper on Transformation of the Uganda Public Service identified the need for a civil service college as a unique, long-term way of strengthening the quality of human resources to address poor performance and the insufficient leadership and management capacity that exists in the Uganda Public Service. The college provides training for all public officers in ministries, departments, agencies and local governments.
Barbara Senkatuuka, former CSCU’s director, said the college offers both core programs and tailor-made programs to reach everyone.
“We go to them, carry out training needs assessment and identify programs for them to access but we also go and develop customized programs that suit their specific needs,” she said.
Continuing staff training and skills development of those who are already employed in public service is the fulcrum. Regular orientation of public officers is seen as essential in improving the attitudes, culture and responsiveness to public needs and aspirations, leading to offering of comprehensive needs-based programs that enhance technical and behavioral competences.
The core learning programs currently being offered are:
- Early Leadership Development (ELD) – ELD targets new public officers, and is designed to instill positive values, attitudes and culture in the new public officers to perform their duties in a patriotic, courteous and responsive manner.
- Competence-Based Recruitment (CBR) - The CBR program targets all Central and District Service Commissions. It is designed to enhance the capability of service commissions to recruit public officers with the required technical and behavioral competences.
- Leadership and Change Management (L&CM) - The L&CM program targets both technical and political leaders across the Public Service, and is designed to build a critical mass of well-trained professional and ethical leaders that support the country’s transformation.
Training courses in procurement and contract management, performance management, have also been developed. The quiet environment helps in providing good learning conditions, but the college is not confined to its campus.
“Jinja is where the college is based but we also have what we call the ‘caravan approach,’” said Senkatuuka. “We have a big van with all the training gadgets so we can move from here to Soroti, or Fort Portal and carry out the training in the clients’ premises. If you don’t have electricity we have a generator. We are saying that we can go to even the farthest part of the country.”
This innovation has saved the ministries and local governments’ valuable time and resources that would have been spent on travelling to and accommodating officers during off-site training. The L&CM program has been rolled out in five regions; northern, north eastern, western, south western and the central region.
The college has started with a focus on senior leaders and managers in the public service but the strategic plan includes offering training classes for middle management as well.