Training the Mali Police Force Practical Techniques on Sustainable Peace Prior to Deployment
By Adam Kane
The close collaboration between UNITAR and the Ecole de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin Beye (EMPABB) aims at contributing to international and regional efforts towards sustaining peace and security in Mali, by supporting the preparation of African military contingents and Formed Police Units (FPUs) prior to their deployment to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). This project will also lead to strengthening capacities of EMPABB to act as a centre of excellence in preparing military contingents and FPUs prior to deployment.
“Thanks to the UNITAR courses, I have learned new teaching techniques that are concretely applicable in my daily work.”
Says Lieutenant Mohamed Keita, who is a permanent instructor at the National Police School of Mali, in Bamako. He is the Training Director of the police force application course. “It is the first professional specialization for graduates of the Military School of Mali,” explains Mr. Keita. “This course lasts about 10 months and aims to develop the skills of young police force officers in terms of command, staff management and training.”
Mr. Keita also serves as the interim training division Chief of the National Police School Executive Management, as well as the temporary instructor at the EMPABB. It is within this framework that he was nominated to undertake two UNITAR training courses: one Training of Trainers (TOT) during the fall 2016 and one coaching session in the spring 2017.
The TOT that he followed in Bamako alongside a dozen other police force officers lasted three weeks and was part of a project called “Sustaining Peace in Mali and the Sahel Region through Strengthening Peacekeeping Training Capacities”, a UNITAR initiative financed by Germany. Its major goal is to consolidate the skills of Malian instructors who will train future FPUs on UN peace operations prior to deployment to MINUSMA. “The TOT was very useful, because it reinforced my teaching skills and helped me diversify my teaching methods,” says Mr. Keita. “It furthered my technical knowledge of the UN pre-deployment and specialized training modules and Formed Police Units.”
“Throughout the course the UNITAR expert used effective techniques that were new to me.”
“One of these involved having us write down a personal anecdote on a piece of paper. Our instructor then collected all the pieces of paper and had us play a game where we each drew one of the personal anecdotes and read it aloud. The sharing of these life stories created a friendly, bonding atmosphere that supported us in getting to know and learning from each other.”
Mr. Keita described another beneficial technique that he learned at the TOT: “It’s called the ‘fishbowl technique’ and it is particularly efficient when debating sensitive questions. The participants are placed standing up in two circles, a large outer circle and a smaller centre circle. Those standing in the centre circle debate about a subject while the outer circle only listens at first. Then, the center circle members hand the topic over to the members of the outer circle by tapping them on the shoulder. We used this technique to effectively discuss critical issues like the use of force against terrorists.”
Mr. Keita’s enthusiasm for UNITAR training continued after his coaching session some months later: “Coaching was something new for me. The session included techniques and simulations that gave a realistic dimension to the training, while providing us with practical experience in applying the various steps of the coaching process. I was unfamiliar with these techniques and found the three-day coaching session to be very effective.”