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The first workshop for training of Peers and certifying them as Peer Reviewers, supported by CEMCA was held in Hyderabad between October 6-8, 2014.

A total of  Eleven CR practitioners including six women participated in the workshop.

Inaugurating the workshop, Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Director, CEMCA said CR-CIT was developed for use by CR stations for their continuous improvement so that they are able to offer better services to the community.  The toolkit was in the public domain and available for any CR station to use it in their interest.

He said that while the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had adopted CR-CIT as one of the three toolkits, the methodology it followed for the Peer Review Process was different from the one laid out in the toolkit.  The idea of the workshops was to develop a cadre of Peers who would participate in the self-assessment process of CR stations and help learn from each other.  Dr. Mishra also called upon participants to help translate the toolkit into various languages. The certification process was necessary to identify CR practitioners who had undergone the training process successfully so that the toolkit could be better used by the CR stations, he said.

Dr. Kanchan K. Malik in her presentation said ever since CRs became a legitimate reality, there have been discussions surrounding programming, funding, sustainability and community participation. It was time CR stations started a systematic process of self-reflection to see how they performed against the universally accepted principles and also learn from the good practices of their fellow CR stations. The toolkit, she said, had been designed keeping in mind the country’s CR policy, the mandatory provisions therein and the core principles of community participation etc. The toolkit would enable CR stations how successful they were in democratizing information flows, involving local talent in all aspects of programming, production & decision making.

Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media said both the toolkit and the workshops were designed on the principles of co-learning and continuous improvement.  The presence of Peers from other stations during a self-review process would help the host station and the attending Peers learn from each others’ experiences and help the CR sector grow.

Workshop Co-ordinator, Vasuki Belavadi said the objectives of the workshop were to enable CR stations to make the best use of CR-CIT, promote a culture of co-learning, facilitate a deeper understanding of the self-assessment and peer review process and finally, to develop a cadre of Peer Reviewers with appropriate skills to facilitate the administering of CR-CIT. The ultimate aim of the entire process was to develop a Community of Practice so that the CR sector would gain from each others’ experience in the spirit of co-learning.

In the session that followed, Prof. Vinod Pavarala outlined the major differences between dominant approaches to evaluation and the more recent, participatory approaches. He said processes of external evaluation were mostly linear, looking merely at cause and effect.  He also highlighted how external evaluation often tended to ignore more complex systemic issues, while participatory evaluation processes were more democratic and holistic. They took into account factors such as gender, marginalization and often used mixed methods.  While dominant evaluation processes looked at impact, participatory evaluation focuses on processes. For the CR sector to improve it was important that it moved away from externally imposed performance indicators to a participatory, flexible system wherein CR stations would set their own benchmarks and try to improve on a continuous basis.

The key principles in such a process were: peer learning, reciprocal value of  knowledge-sharers, mutual trust, and collective and individual meaning-making.

Dr. Kanchan K. Malik in her presentation said the Self-Assessment & Peer Review Process (SA & PR process) as recommended by the Chair focused on enabling CR stations to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create goals to achieve them within a timeline.  This process, she said, would lead to continuous improvement. CR-CIT was modular in nature and CR stations could either apply all the nine parameters in the toolkit or in parts based on their priorities.

Dr. Malik also outlined the steps in administering the toolkit and provided details of how each parameter should be administered. She said it would be an added advantage if the Peers had prior knowledge of the toolkit and were similar stations from the region in view of familiarity of the language.

She also cautioned that the two Peers invited for the process should avoid getting into a self-evaluation mode and pass judgments against the host station. The role of the Peers would be to facilitate the process, share experiences and help the CR station compile their goalposts and timelines.

After a brief discussion, Vasuki Belavadi gave an introduction to the nine parameters in the toolkit.  He said the nine parameters were arrived at, based on universally accepted principles on which CRs are established. Therefore, one would notice that factors such as gender, participation, diversity and capacity building cut across all the nine parameters. While emphasizing that the process was not for comparison between two stations, Vasuki Belavadi also highlighted the types of indicators in each parameter.

He said administering the toolkit would require some amount of data collection before all the stakeholders of the station came together for the SA & PR process.

Day two of the workshop was set aside for practical sessions.  These sessions were designed to ensure that participants understood the spirit behind each of the parameters and the indicators. It was also intended to ensure that participants themselves would teach each other with minimum intervention from the workshop organizers/ resource persons.

This meant that the participants were divided into teams of three each. In the morning session, four teams would study the first four parameters, make notes and present it to the workshop. In the afternoon session, four different teams studied the next five parameters and presented their perspective to the workshop. Each group’s discussions were facilitated by a different resource person from the core team of the UNESCO Chair.

Discussions following presentations by each team helped clear any doubts in the minds of the participants.

Day three of the workshop was focused on simulating an SA & PR process, assessment and certifying the peers.

Participants at the workshop visited Bol Hyderabad 90.4 fm where the CR station self-administered one parameter in the toolkit, while all other participants performed the role of Peers at a SA & PR process.  This session helped them understand the role of the Peers as mentioned in the toolkit. Following a detailed discussion, participants at the workshop helped Bol Hyderabad arrive at goalposts and timelines for the specific parameter.

This was followed by a session by Prof. Vinod Pavarala who presented the process of documentation. He introduced a template using which CR stations could document the entire process of SA & PR and file the document for future use.  He said the other ways of documenting the process were audio/ video and of course, photographs.

Vasuki Belavadi then introduced CRux (CR User Experience) for CR-CIT. CRux is an online platform designed by the Chair based on CR-CIT wherein CR practitioners, trainers, enthusiasts and researchers can participate and share their experiences.  The online forum, although meant for those using CR-CIT as a toolkit, would be open to all CR practitioners from around the world to share their experiences in the spirit of co-learning and continuous improvement.

The workshop participants then went through a process to assess their understanding of the toolkit.  Participants who qualified as Peer Reviewers have been mentioned on the CR-CIT website, along with their impressions of the toolkit.

Access CRux
Access the forum 
Qualified peers & their profiles
Certified Peers’ impressions on the toolkit 
More photographs of the first workshop