In Indonesia, PEKKA organizes poor grassroots women who are the head of their families. More than half of the women are illiterate, and others have low formal education background. They face some legal problems especially related with legal identity and different violence against women.
Our legal empowerment program focuses on development of paralegals and assists the community to get their legal identity and gain justice for their cases. We also do lots of education and campaign program on legal matters not only for PEKKA community but also for other marginalized people in the village.
In our country, people in general especially in rural areas do not really understand and use legal framework in dealing with their problems, we face some challenges in our education work. How can we better train people with basic education to understand and use complex laws? We would love to hear some sharing and inputs from others on this challenges.
Moderator Update 6 September, 2016: this has been such a fruitful discussion we decided to provide a brief summary of key points, mentioned resources and participants. We’ll keep this topic open for those that follow who may want to add their comments and ideas.
##Topic Summary For many people around the world, the law is out of reach or is a direct threat, rather than a tool for empowerment and achieving justice. To combat this, we need to teach people the skills needed to use and understand the law, despite limited education, illiteracy, or a lack of exposure to legal concepts. In this discussion, experts and practitioners around the world are sharing their successful methodologies, resources, and tools used.
While participants in the discussion each offered their diverse perspectives, a clear diagram of how to conduct training on understanding the law was formulated by the group. This framework can be modified and adopted to fit different contexts, and some suggestions for doing so are listed below.
###1. Conduct a needs assessment
The first step in this process is to understand the problems faced by the community you are aiming to help, and then link the problems to a legal solution.
- “Start where the people are” – @marlonmanuel
- Community members should identify the problem and desired solution, so they can articulate their own idea of justice
- Assess the learning needs of the community including “literacy level, skills, language and cultural barriers and levels of fear or confidence in dealing with the law” – @lisawintersteiger
###2. Choose the best learning tool for your audience The next step is to assess what will be the best tool for you to be able to reach your audience and help them understand difficult legal concepts.
- Examples of tools to use:
- Conduct a reflective reading and discussion of the text of the law
- Act out the community’s problem and the legal solution in a play
- Involve the group in a game
- Describe a relevant case study
- Use an explanatory pictorial illustration
- Tips for conducting the learning activity, which should be:
- “simple and straight forward” and “interesting and participatory” – @danielsesay
- participatory so all are involved and engaged – in order to ensure continued interest can conduct energizers
- relatable so participants can see how it fits in their daily life
###3. Prepare for the activity Before you gather a group of participants, you should ensure that you have prepared materials to help the group understand and interact with the law
- Break down the law into sections and topics to help the group maintain focus
- Translate the legal language of the law into understandable terms
- “It can be helpful to pair paralegals with a mentor” for continued engagement – @Shaveta_Sharma
###4. Conduct the exercise The activity should be participatory and engaging and should be tailored to empower the participants to understand and engage with the legal process.
- One method could be to conduct a reading of the law, breaking down the concepts into understandable terms
- Communicate about the law to facilitate understanding, either through written exercises or oral presentations based on the needs of the individuals involved
- These exercises can involve individual as well as group work
- Focus discussion around what community can do and how they can seek desirable remedies
###5. Evaluate and spread the impact After the participants has engaged in the exercise, evaluate its effectiveness and determine how these teachings can be used to help those individuals to approach other problems similarly and have them spread these strategies to others in the community.
- Be sure to leave time to reflect upon the exercise
- Evaluate the impact you have had on the group, see if there is a change in their level of competencies
- “Have the participants plan and implement the teaching of the information they have received to others in the community” in order to strengthen their own knowledge and spread it to others – @brucelasky
##Resources Recommended by Discussion Participants
- Example of a legal needs assessment: https://namati.org/resources/legal-needs-legal-capability-role-public-education/
- Teaching Guidance and Handouts:
- Where to get information and help: https://namati.org/resources/finding-out-about-the-law-where-to-get-information-help/
- Assessing courses of action and developing communication skills: https://namati.org/resources/housing-disrepair-assessing-courses-action-developing-communication-skills/
- Developing confidence and getting organized: https://namati.org/resources/employment-discrimination-developing-confidence-getting-organised/
- Public legal education evaluation framework: https://namati.org/resources/public-legal-education-evaluation-framework/
- Guidance for evaluating public legal education: https://namati.org/resources/guidance-evaluating-public-legal-education/
- Example of effective teaching and positive outcome: http://indiatogether.org/residents-of-a-municipal-dumping-site-fight-back-women
- Nani Zulminarni @naniz - Founder, PEKKA, the Women-Headed Households Empowerment Program, Indonesia
- Marlon Manuel @marlonmanuel - National Coordinator, Alternative Law Groups (ALG), Philippines
- Zia Uddin @Zia_Uddin - Research Assistant, South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) and BRAC, Bangladesh
- Lisa Wintersteiger @lisawintersteiger - Chief Executive, Law for Life, United Kingdom
- Bruce Lasky @brucelasky - Co-Founder and Director, Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE), Thailand
- Martina Egbenda @Tina - Coordinator, Sierra Leone Legal Information Institute (Sierra LII), Sierra Leone
- Shaveta Sharma @Shaveta_Sharma - Consultant, South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS), Bangladesh
- Daniel Sesay @danielsesay – Program Officer, Namati, Sierra Leone
- Ye Yinth @yeyinth - Senior Program Officer, Namati, Myanmar
- Kanchi Kohli @kanchikohli - Legal Research Director, Environmental Justice, Namati, India