From 24 to 28 October, 2011 the African Legal Information Institute (AfricanLII) hosted a training session for some of the coordinators from the network of African legal information institutes (LIIs). Attending were: Gugu Vilakati from SwaziLII (Swaziland), Bridget Osho from SierraLII (Sierra Leone) and Thelma Julie from SeyLII (Seychelles). For Bridget and Thelma, this was their first visit to Johannesburg (and to South Africa). We hope they enjoyed the little space we provided for some site seeing around Johannesburg. Although it appears that Johannesburg does not always have a good reputation as a tourist destination, it is in fact a vibrant, cultural city teeming with museums, entertainment venues, parks, and shopping malls :-)
This was the first time that AfricanLII had hosted a training session specifically for the LII coordinators and also the first time these coordinators had met. Our hope was that, in bringing coordinators together, the training would evolve organically around each coordinator's specific contextual requirements and that training and learning would take place between coordinators rather than being purely a function of what the AfricanLII team could deliver. Sharing experiences is a wonderful learning tool.
What ended up happening is that the official trainers (myself, Mariya and Tererai) ended up being the unofficial students of the coordinators! The official training plan (attached here) served as a guideline for the sessions with an emphasis on the practical aspects of content planning, uploading of material, arrangement of metadata and working with the Drupal-based CMS which serves as a platform for the LII portals. Discussions ranged from the constitution of boards or advisory committees, to managing the complexity of paper-based systems, to the challenges around obtaining primary legal material from the source institutions, with time for digressions in between.
The training ended with each of us feeling that perhaps next time the training should be for longer and with all African LII coordinators in attendance.
We are enormously grateful to Gugu, Thelma and Bridget for making the time to come here for the training and for the tremendous learning curve on which we all embarked! We are grateful for their respective boards and judiciaries for supporting this endeavour.
Yours from the AfricanLII team