On the morning of Monday the 24th October 2011, I arrived at the offices of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre in Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa to attend a training of the Coordinators of the Legal Information Institutes (“Liis”) in Africa. I was excited but at the same time apprehensive. Excited, because I will get to benefit on a training on the technicalities of maintaining and running a Lii, interacting with other Coordinators of newly established Liis and establishing new contacts. Apprehensive because I had not done any formal training in coordinating and administering a Lii since I became a Coordinator for the Sierra Leone Legal Information Institute (“SierraLii”) a little over a year ago and I was afraid my ignorance will show. Luckily, I had met with Kerry Anderson one of the Co-ordinator of African Lii about a year ago when she visited Freetown to train end users on the functionality of the Sierra Lii website, and her positive and reassuring attitude quickly put my mind at rest. I had not had much contact with the other two Co-ordinators, Mariya Badeva-Bright and Terrerai Mafukidze but as soon as I met them all anxiety flew out the window.
The training was quite intense and very interactive. Even though, I have very little IT skills, I was able to follow most of the time. Whenever I got lost, the instructors were quickly able to push me in the right direction and I was able to have a very productive training.
There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the training. The technicalities involved in creating menus and contents types and the meaning and uses of metadatas and drupals had always seem alien to me but they are now aspects of administering a Lii website for which I can boast of having some knowledge of. Managing content collection was something I had struggled with but learning practical ways to plan content collection is a useful tool for me in organising and maintaining an effective content collection system. For the process of uploading contents on the website using relevant softwares, I had little experience in this but I have now learnt new and better ways to accomplish this to maximise effective results.
My highpoint however in all the training is a discussion on the softer issues of coordinating a Lii such as the importance of identifying and managing stakeholders. The instructor talked about the problems associated with managing stakeholders and ways in which to avoid /or deal with the problems. I learnt so much from this as most of the problems discussed are things that as a coordinator I can identify with. I listened to discussions on this topic from the other participants and I was able to learn from all their experiences.
In it entirety, it was a very productive training and I am grateful to have been part of it. I enjoyed my stay in vibrant Johannesburg and will definitely visit again if given the opportunity.
However, I think the training was too short for the amount of things we have to learn and I hope that this training is a first in a series of training. The Lii is a dynamic institution with different problems each passing day and it is important that we Coordinators able to recognise these problems and devise effective ways to deal with them thus an on going training of coordinators will be invaluable if the Liis is to survive.
On behalf of the Sierra Lii team here in Freetown, I wish to thank the African Lii team for providing this much needed training. Bravo and God bless!