bootcamp: an intensive, hands-on training course, using team-based project work, to quickly teach technical skills
The world is opening up, with increasing amounts of information available to the public for analysis, decision-making, and action. But, to harness and act on this new information, we need new skills to analyze public spending processes, and ‘follow the money’.
The ujuzi bootcamps are designed to give journalists, civic activists, and coders a crash-course in the most important techniques and tools needed to analyze public spending information, including through opened budget processes.
The bootcamps were pioneered by the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the World Bank Institute (WBI) in Kenya, in January 2012, and have since been delivered everywhere from Moldova to South Africa and have resulted in scores of civic media projects built by participants.
Typically, this includes:
Project-based ‘public financial management’ training, over three-days, where journalists and civic activists are teamed-up to strengthen their understanding of the country’s national budget process, from an introduction to South Sudan’s budget cycle – including key entry points across the full fiscal year for media – to a ‘deep dive’ exploration of national procurement processes and resultant delivery or gaps in public services, through the lens of journalistic investigation and demand-driven issue analysis. Participants are additionally brought together with Parliamentarians from across South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, for immersive learning on Public Accounts Committee functions and processes, including working together in a series of exercises and collaborative mock hearings. Participating journalists and civic activists are also enabled to engage these MPs as equals, to collectively explore public spending issues in a constructive atmosphere, toward improved sensitization of media and parliamentarians to each other, and better enabling government to understand the crucial role of a budget-literate, issue-savvy media for lasting social and economic development.
Trainers have included the public financial management experts from OpenSpending, Upande, the Open Institute, O’Reilly Media’s Radar, the World Bank’s Open Finances team, and a range of leading economic and development journalists.
Right from the beginning, participants self-organize themselves into a series of small teams, each focused on a theme or project that they develop into a fully-fledged narrative by the end of the three-day workshop. Participants work with real spending data, on a real news project, in a team made up of journalists and civic activists, with one-on-one tuition from global experts. They get immediate, and ongoing, constructive feedback both from team-mates and mentors, as well as the larger bootcamp, through daily report-backs and critiques.
New ideas need more than technical support to succeed. They also need a community of supporters, collaborators, and champions. All bootcamp participants are encouraged to join or open a local chapter of HacksHackers, or local civic technology community, which bring together journalists (hacks), civil society, and government, with technologists (hackers) for monthly meet-ups and skills exchanges on ways to change how the media gathers, reports, and then disseminates the news.