Since January 2016, SAILS has conducted two Training of Trainers (ToTs) on community paralegal work in South Asia – the first took place in Sri Lanka on 5-9 January, 2016 and the second in Pakistan on 18-23 July, 2016. The trainings are part of a series undertaken by SAILS, which aims to advance justice at the local level through increasing the capacity and knowledge sharing among NGOs dedicated to legal empowerment, as well as engaging policy makers to create an enabling environment for community paralegal work. Through use of Alternate Legal Education (ALE) methodologies, the ToTs aim to create an understanding of paralegal capacity building as a holistic intervention, instead of piecemeal training on legal procedures.
The 5-day workshop held in Sri Lanka in January brought together 21 participants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. The participants were chosen from local and international NGOs working on legal empowerment. This was followed by a second regional ToT in Pakistan in July, which included 21 Participants from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Efforts were made to ensure that equal number of male and female participants took part in each training.
The training activities focused on: basic knowledge of paralegalism; use of legal instruments on specific issues, such as land; essential concepts on designing trainings, adult learning methods, presentation techniques and innovation in developing tools; gendered dimensions of paralegal work; and social and political contexts facing paralegals. After successful completion of training the trainers were awarded certificates and it is expected that these Master Trainers would go on to conduct ToTs of their own in their countries.
It is envisaged that sometime in the future a core group of successful Master Trainers, and the organizations they represent, will develop a roadmap for online and in-person training courses and academic programs on paralegalism. Moreover, arrangements will be made to provide formal certifications for these training and academic programs by working in collaboration with University Grants Commissions in various South Asian countries.
The ToT in Sri Lanka was conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) India, which provided technical input. Mr Gagan Sethi and Ms Nupur Sinha from CSJ acted as trainers. A detailed report on the workshop can be found here. The ToT in Pakistan was conducted in collaboration with CSJ, UNDP Pakistan and Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), Pakistan. Technical input and training was conducted by the same trainers from CSJ.