The Centre engages extensive capacity building because empowering communities is an institutional mandate. We undertake various activities to build internal capacity building of members of the organization, while engaging with various stakeholders who aid or assist our goal of furthering access to justice for all.
The organisation works in the lawyer-paralegal framework and trainings are not just aimed at strengthening the understanding of legal systems but also include voices of members of marginalised communities to help the recipients understand the reality of legal systems.
Guiding Principles of CSJ’s capacity building efforts
We are: Recipient oriented—
It is imperative that the curriculum is tailored to suit the participant, ensuring its relevance. Systems undertaking training are mindful of the participant’s social context, their surroundings and experiences, and assimilate this into the curriculum.
Thanks to the organisation clear perspective of vulnerability and victimhood, the capacity building process should result in empowerment of these marginalised communities. This makes it essential that the collective and ever-changing understanding of vulnerability that CSJ has developed is constantly reflected in way we take on capacity building initiatives.
The content we use reflects our core philosophy: the need for alternative legal education with a focus on the identity of the individuals and their collective identities, combining skills, information and perspective.
We, at CSJ, believe that traditional capacity building curriculums place undue emphasis on cognitive aspects. Our approach has a wider reach and considers other aspects such as perspective building, identity formation, in addition to skill development, to facilitate individual learning.
We also take into account that individuals benefitting from this are adults, and therefore, they prefer and even appreciate a self determined pace to learning. As a consequence, the curriculum as is not designed to spoon feed but enable them to learn for themselves. This means learning is a continuous process, and must remain flexible to newer ways, ideas and changes.
Sharing the Responsibility—
The responsibility to learn and empower must be shared jointly by individuals participating in these events and structures responsible for designing capacity building initiatives.
Must Enable Interacting with the External Environment—
Since the intervention is systemic and feeds into the work CSJ does, it is imperative that capacity building initiatives further contact between recipients and their surroundings as opposed to being seen as independent from social and economic contexts
This means economic and social empowerment is a logical extension of such activities. Ensuring that individuals are equipped in more than one way, and are able to see connections between what they are taught and their circumstances, is essential
Keep in Line with CSJ’s Systemic Intervention—
Capacity building efforts should be aligned with the ongoing work of the organization. The usefulness or application of learnings must have a direct relationship with enhancing the organisation’s work. This means training inputs will be linked directly to action in the field.
To illustrate: CSJ works on land rehabilitation issues in Katni district in Madhya Pradesh. The issue was identified through a campaign organised in May 2015. After following up with residents, we felt that surveying the area for rehabilitation beneficiaries was imperative to carry forward our efforts. The Capacity Building Unit, in consultation with the operational unit in the district, scheduled training events on land awareness and land rights so that paralegals and volunteers are trained to contribute to interventions that pertain to these issues.
The outcome of these guiding principles accounts for two ideas: maintaining a balance between the bare minimum that must be ensured and the emerging practical realities based on application. The organization has developed a structure thanks to its decades-long experience of working in the field of access to justice that is best suited to accommodate these principles.
It is the responsibility of CSJ’s research and capacity building unit to periodically assess internal training needs and mapping the environment to identify external capacity building requirements. The unit is also responsible for creating material in addition to scheduling and organising training events.
Rehbar, meaning‘ guide’, is a virtual group to help implement the vision, strategic orientation and valuesof the organization. Rehbar is a group of individuals who have been trained by the organisation and display an interest in continuing their association. It’s members include:
- The young professionals for legal empowerment.
- The anchors from respective units who act as liaisons between the RaCB and field units.
- Consistent members assigned to each unit for regular hand-holding.
- Subject experts invited for specific inputs.
Each unit has been provided a dedicated person to hand-hold them through their journey. This reflects a flexible support model where trainers are expected to oversee the output of the operational unit in terms of the quality of legal aid and litigation undertaken, identify gaps, and offer support in terms of experience, practicality and innovation in strategies.
In order to contextualise capacity building, operational units are expected to conduct periodic reflection meetings. These reflection meetings encourage analysis of issues and laws where they originate. These meetings involve peer-learning practices and inputs from persons who are well versed with local laws.
Internal: Apart from the pool of people in the RaCB unit and the Rehbar group, other members of our operational units also fall into this category. The organisation’s mandates requires them to conduct capacity building programmes at the local level an to support them, CSJ conducts training sessions for trainers.
External: These include resource persons in the field, who have specialised information and engagement with laws and the legal system. They are invited for training events conducted by CSJ.
They are CSJ’s connection to communities the organization works with. They primarily help in identifying issues relevant to the community. Thus, it is essential for them to develop an understanding of vulnerability and the rights framework CSJ focuses on.
CSJ works on the lawyer-paralegal framework. Within this, Paralegals are belong to the group of individuals who have been associated with the organisation for a certain period and reflected a desire and competence to work in the field of access to justice since they were volunteers. They are expected to have a skill set which contributes to the work of the unit. In addition to having an identity in the community, they should aid the litigation and advocacy work being carried out by the organisation.
These are paralegals associated with different outfits but work on the access to justice framework, i.e. use law to further their work. The capacity building initiatives directed at them should be a response to the demand from the target group, or a result of the environment mapping undertaken by the RaCB unit. This program will have a specific objectives determined using processes mentioned above.
This includes lawyers who work with the organisation on interventions. The organisation assesses their needs and then designs the capacity building events.
This is either the outcome of specific demands of target groups or identified by mapping the environment. This serves to add to the pool of social justice lawyers that CSJ is continually building.
This includes organisations doing similar work, or those that need assistance in understanding laws to further their work.
The organisation has worked with legal systems to further access to justice. Therefore representatives at every level constitute an important element when building capacity.
Broadly, people working in the field of legal advocacy comprise legal community. Law students, however, are CSJ’s specific target group.
Understanding A Capacity Building Intervention
Awareness campaign (Level 0)
Expected outcome:Identifying volunteers.
Orientation of Identified Volunteers (Level 1)
Expected outcome for institution:Link to the community.
Expected outcome for target group:Formation of a new identity, understanding vulnerability better andlearning to identify human rights issues.
Training for Paralegals (Level 2)
Expected outcome for institution:Solidifying grip on identification of issues through volunteers: first step towards identifying individuals who are capable of furthering the access to justice framework.
Expected outcome for target group:Familiarity with basic laws like RTI, basic schemes, etc.
Training for Paralegals (Level 3)
Expected outcome for institution:Solidifying the pool of individuals, assistance in drafting, learning to file basic applications, etc.
Expected outcome for target group:Drafting skills, understanding the legal system and its processes, and participating in those processes at an elementary level.
Beyond this, the hand holding support continues.
This is conducted by the RaCB Unit to identify needs of lawyers that the organisation works with. Additionally, it also maps the environment for issues that it wants to target and then merges the two.
Preparation of CB Calendar
Assessing the impact of capacity building processes is always an uphill task, because the impact made by changing perspectives isn’t always quantifiable. These changes also reflect in work participants do as well as the skills and perspectives they carry with them everywhere they go.
However, a way to gauge tangible impact is comparing the source mapping datasets of two centres, like one in Modasa and another in Mandvi. From the period of April-July 2015, Modasa centre registered 46 caseof which 38 cases were brought to CSJ by volunteers.
On the other hand, in Mandvi, the centre had 50 case registrations in the same period and nonewere made through volunteers.
The Modasa centre has been running for approximately twenty years so the centre is engaged with the volunteers for more deeply. This is not the case in Mandvi because the centre is relatively newer.
Additionally, though the Rehbar group is also a product of the capacity building processes initiated by the Centre, it now acts in the capacity of trainers for our internal and external needs.
To make sure that people in the operational centres have understood the pedagogy and methodological underpinnings, CSJ recently organised training for trainers, i.e. for the members of the field centres who organise trainings locally. The outcome was that the qualitative content of the training improved and nowit combines skills, information and perspective framework in their training designs.
The input-application-reflection method makes sure that the work in the field is directly influenced by and feeds back into the capacity building process.