Civil Society Empowerment Through Training & Skills Development - Seminar on
Media and Communication Skills
April 1, 1999 - April 1, 1999
Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi
Training and other activities that contribute to human capacity development are fundamental to the stability of any society and its ability to both contribute to global affairs and to manage its own. It has thus been the aim of the PASSIA project on Civil Society Empowerment through Training and Skills Development to increase the yet weak institutional capacity of Palestinian society and to help attain sustainable development through a focused effort to increase the managerial and communication capabilities of Palestinian professionals, especially in the civil society sector.
The training program on Media and Communication Skills was chosen because good governance and civil society depend on an effective flow of information and communications.
Civil society organizations need to convey their respective messages through various media – to governments, other organizations, members, and the general public, etc. - which requires the ability to speak publicly (both effectively and persuasively), interviewing, and the successful writing of articles and other printed materials. Effective communication management is thus a necessary tool for development, public relations, advocacy, lobbying and fundraising.
The PASSIA training program on Media and Communication Skills was specifically designed to enhance the effectiveness of activities of those who are working in advocacy, good governance and public awareness issues. It aims at achieving increased efficiency amongst civil society organizations in using the media in support of their concerns, including mobilizing public opinion for their causes.
The strategic significance of this training program is derived from the notion that if civil society organizations can better articulate their goals, they are more likely to get the attention and consideration they deserve and that they need to bring about positive change, both in terms of making community views known as well as raising the community’s awareness concerning official policies.
The training program thus focused on skills such as how to present information convincingly, how to effectively deal with the public (including constituencies, government and donors), and how to utilize promotional activities (including materials, campaigns, fundraising, etc.) to better serve their causes.
Media and communications is a rapidly developing art and science, and nobody can afford to continue with classical traditional methods whilst ignoring those of recent years. Palestinians, as the entire world knows, were amongst the pioneers in the Arab World when it came to establishing newspapers (Falasteen, Jerusalem, 1909 and Al-Karmel, Nazareth, 1910) and printing houses, in a bid to promote their ideas and businesses. Consequently, their expertise in the fields of import/export, tourism, and industry was widely acknowledged and greatly appreciated in the capitals of their Arab neighbors.
Alas, the political struggle had a devastating effect on the Palestinians’ economy, their national institutions and their relations with others. Perhaps now that the political agenda is searching with the support of the world for a settlement, there will be an opportunity for Palestinians to repair the damage of the past, increase the capacity of their institutions and realize the potential that exists for developing their society. In this context, the venue of media and communications is vital if we are to succeed in overcoming the complications of the transitional phase through which we are currently passing.
Part I: Civil Society, the Policy Process And the Media