By Indumati Gopinathan, Rotary Club of Bombay Chembur West
The vocational training team is one of the most meaningful programs that has emerged from the Foundation’s grant model. Having had opportunities to lead a Group Study Exchange and a vocational training team (VTT), I have witnessed the metamorphosis of this idea and can attest to the great value the latter provides.
My participation in two consecutive medical vocational training teams to Uganda in 2013 and 2014 showed me how purpose driven these teams are, what a crisp program they follow, and how they build capacity in one of our six areas of focus. Stringent monitoring and evaluation tools gauge efficiency and assure sustainability.
Using the monitoring and evaluation tools developed by past RI Director Philip Silvers, our program evaluated trainees after every training capsule, and evaluated trainers after every session and again at the program’s end. Those being trained had to provide a blueprint before the end of the program explaining how they are going to improve capacity building in their communities. A committee of Rotary members, healthcare officials, and healthcare workers have a set time frame to follow up with them on their plans.
Because of these monitoring and evaluation tools, the first team in 2013 discovered the need for training in how to conduct cervical cancer screening, and it was added as a requirement of the program in 2014.
Some of the benefits of a vocational training team include:
- using your professional expertise to teach others in your field and enhance their ability to make a difference in their communities;
- thinking out of the box in situations where you have minimal resources;
- teaching alongside local experts;
- emphasizing measurability and evaluation, with the ultimate result of more sustainable outcomes;
- involving Rotary members and Rotaractors in followup and evaluation;
- learning the importance of surveying local communities first and planning for the future.
Building friendships, exchanging culture, and feeling good about the experience are all nice byproducts of a vocational training team, but the real greatness is in the sustainability and measurability. Organizing a team takes time and effort and leaves no room for loose ends.
Unlike Group Study Exchanges, in a vocational training team, a Rotary member does not have to be a team leader to take part. District or club funded team programs can even take place in your own country. For instance you can design a program to bring community members from rural areas to the city for training. You don’t even need to be part of that profession to contribute, as you can serve on a committee organizing a vocational training team program.
The satisfaction that comes from a well done vocational training team is indescribable, really. I highly recommend it for any Rotary member who wants to experience what it is like to make a difference in a community.