Background of the Project

The processes of self-governance reforming and decentralizing of municipal power are ongoing in Russia. There were only 37 municipalities in Irkutsk region in Siberia before 2005. 391 municipalities were established after 1 January 2005 in Irkutsk region in accordance with the new Federal Law (2003). Most of† new administrations are in need of qualified employees for carry out their public functions. But itís clear that those qualified employees are absent from small places and rural territories of the region. New Siberian municipalities are small ones in terms of size of territory, population and local budget. Even bigger local administrations donít have real possibilities to retrain and up-date their employeesí skills and knowledge properly because of the limited nature of municipal budgets. Baikal State University of Economics and Law (BSUEL) took part in the Tempus project aimed at strengthening of public administration in the lake Baikal region in 1997-2000.† The project had got a significant impact on the cooperation between BSUEL and regional and local governments. When the project was finished, the Centre of Vocational Training of State & Municipal Servants was established and the permanent process of civil (both state and municipal) servants training and up-dating was launched. The traditional face-to-face vocational training of civil servants goes on but, in fact, only nearby municipalities are able to send their staff for retraining. Local administrations have to finance not only the costs of training, but also travel and stay costs when they send their employees to the central regional city (Irkutsk) where the above-mentioned Center of Baikal State University of Economics and Law is located. Many of municipalities are situated quite far from the given city. Distant local governments are open for the dialogue and ready to cooperate widely with the Centre; they realise the importance of the municipal servantsí training. Unfortunately, this group of clients has a big disadvantage: they canít afford to finance travel and stay costs for their employees.
BSUEL is really interested in widening of the geographical sphere of the Centreís activity but this challenge requires developing more diverse and efficient training methods. To meet distant and underdeveloped municipalitiesí needs the University has to offer courses at a distance and in forms other than traditional delivery. New types of programmes can provide municipal servants with a chance to improve their skills, reach those disadvantaged by limited funds and distance, and update the knowledge base of workers at their places of employment. BSUEL also intend to maximise generally its resources by determining and institutionalising the most effective approach for developing distant training and education programmes and learning materials. So, the Centre of Vocational Training of State & Municipal Servants of BSUEL needs to launch the new activity directed at the development of teaching materials for distance courses in the sphere of Territorial Development to provide increased educational opportunities without increased budgets.† The issues of Urban and Rural Development are very important in Russia, especially in Siberian territories that are suffered from poverty,† lack of investments, small budgets and deterioration. Local administrations are in charge with the development of their places. The newly developed in-service distance training courses are supposed to strength the Siberian municipal administrations capacities to launch the terrirotial development process. Specialists and heads of departments (committees) or deputies of heads from at least 150 municipal administrations (rural districts and small and middle-sized cities located on 100-1000 km from the central city of the Irkutsk region) are target groups to be trained within the proposed project. Irkutsk Regional Administration is really interested in the realisation of the project because it is in charge with† a development of municipal policy of the region and realisation of a municipal reform in the region. The Central Administrative Board on Municipal Affairs of Irkutsk Regional Administration is a special body of Irkutsk Regional Administration that is responsible for providing municipal administrations with consultancy and any other professional assistance. The Regional Administration has to sibsidize local budgets from the regional budget every year. The distance training systemís developing will allow poor municipalities spend less budget funds on the vocational training and redirect money saved to another important direction.
University of Debrecen (Hungary), University of Paris-Sorbonne and Centre National de la Fonction Publique Territorial (France) have got an excellence experience in the sphere of vocational training, including the sphere of public servants training and upgrading. They offer a wide range of courses in the sphere of Territorial Development. The Association of Mayors of the Region Ile-de-France (France) is aimed to help its members to enhance their knowledge and skills through the exchange of their expertise in order to promote the places development. These organisations can share their excellent knowledge and experience with Baikal State University of Economics and Law and Irkutsk Regional Administration to assist them in developing effective distance vocational training system of Siberian municipal servants.




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