Components of ABATOM's work in the area of education, training, and mobilization divide roughly into three different, though interrelated, major parts. First are the activities dealing with professional training and education (call these a capacity-building function), where the objective is aimed at imparting skills and knowledge for understanding and analyzing, grappling with, and formulating solutions to given socioeconomic issues. Work here involves periodically mounting short training courses in a variety of subjects. These could be about, for example, the art of negotiation; strategies of conflict management; human rights education and training for defence and security personnel; prisons reform; conducting credible elections; conditions for democratic consolidation; ABC of natural disaster management; cultural and religious impediments to womencs empowerment, and strategies for overcoming these; forms of violence against women; enterprise development; urban waste-to-wealth initiatives; appropriate and environmentally friendly technologies and innovations for rural women in running small-sized agro-businesses; food, nutrition and sanitation as requirement for good health; HIV/AIDS as a pandemic disease, among other subjects. But the choice of which subjects to organize training courses on, where, and when is not something to be decided a priori, but must have to be determined by the need and demand of their intended beneficiaries and other stakeholders, organizations and agencies, or their staff and partners, and perhaps worked out with their prior consultation and participation. Whatever are the subjects chosen, the ultimate objective for providing this kind of education and training is to impart knowledge about such subjects, skills for understanding, analyzing, and grappling with the challenges they pose, and information about the requirements for reasoned policy making regarding these. Conferences, workshops, seminars, roundtables, training courses (usually for professionals), and train the trainers initiatives (focusing mainly on raising teams of community mobilisers and educators for subsequent work particularly at the grass-roots) are the methods used by ABATOM for furthering the objectives of its programme on professional training and education.
Then, there are the planned activities aimed at not just linking the results and findings of research work carried out under ABATOM directly with policy and action, and positively impacting upon policy making and implementation, but also helping to bring about improvement in the human condition within specific socioeconomic areas. ABATOM Associates interprets its mandate here to include assisting policymakers and their partners with work on conflict diagnosis, conflict prevention, resolution and peacemaking, food security and poverty alleviation, gender mainstreaming in agricultural budgeting, technology and training for rural women, as well as the strategies for their implementation, to mention but a few. In addition to the canvassing of such action programmes and involvement with their implementation, ABATOM defines its education and training work here to include moving into advocacy roles. These will entail occasionally joining hands with other non-governmental research organizations, think tanks, civil society groups, and other stakeholders to promote given issues of interest and concern being made the subject of public debate, raise public awareness about them, and push for increase in budgetary allocations for tackling them; being part of a coalition of initiatives or network committed to enforcing accountability; and lobbying for improvements in policy making generally. These functions of ABATOM Associates are about public education, advocacy and engagement.
Community mobilization and sensitization drive is the third and last major component of ABATOM's education and training programmes. Here, ABATOM Associates draws and attempts to build upon the previous efforts, successes, and experiences by the Centre for Gender, Governance and Development (CEGGAD), an NGO, of which one of our Directors has been the Chairperson. Among the initiatives previously undertaken by CEGGAD in the area have been the following: organizing community meetings of rural women, community-based organizations (CBOs) and other local-level stakeholders, for identifying the range of problems affecting people at the grass-roots, their priorities, and what policies and action programmes to design for addressing these; awareness-raising workshops for local organizations and community groups and agreeing measures, for planning and implementing projects; organizing rural women into self-help groups and cooperatives, for accessing micro-credits and other inputs needed for meeting the food security needs and livelihoods of households at the community level; capacity-building workshops, for deepening local knowledge and mastery of small-scale, low-cost alternative technologies and innovations, and their uses for running and achieving increased returns on investment in income-generating projects; mounting sensitization programmes at different times, for raising community-wide awareness on a range of critical issues, including women's reproductive rights, about why health is wealth, the evils of child trafficking, and the risks of HIV/AIDS pandemic; embarking on train-the-trainers initiatives, for raising groups of community mobilisers and educators to keep the various mobilization programmes going beyond the initial stage of their being launched; and last, but not the least, being part of a patently political drive for women's community mobilization and participation at the grass-roots, aimed at getting more women into leadership positions. As found, however, rarely have the community meetings for launching those CEGGAD-organised mobilization and sensitization programmes taken place, without generating their own conflicts. But the ways and means used for resolving the conflicts are also interesting and worth replicating. The strategy of conflict resolution has tended to revolve around recourse to such traditional folklores and mechanisms as prayers, plays, story-telling, experience-sharing, songs, dance, and festivals, and the strategy seems to have worked in most of the cases; thereby bringing to the fore the intimate link, long suspected to exist at least at the grass-roots, between community mobilization and conflict resolution. ABATOM Associates in this portion of its work on education, training and mobilization continues with, and attempts to build on, the pioneering efforts and successes recorded by CEGGAD in the area.