In the world of education, Peer to Peer Learning is recognized as an effective method of knowledge transfer. It is about people at the same level voluntarily teaching one another what they know. It is an informal and cost-effective method of training because it does not involve the hiring of experts.
Jonas Moberg, the then Executive Director of the EITI, in his National Secretariat Circular, May 2015 Edition, wrote: 'Peer learning and information sharing activities are in full swing'. Mark Robinson, Executive Director, in his introductory remarks to the 42nd EITI Board Meeting in Kyiv in October 2018 said: The EITI Secretariat and our supporting countries must now encourage implementing countries to make this shift through capacity development and peer to peer learning’.
In 2016, EITI Region 6 began to experiment with Peer to Peer Learning and the initiative is ongoing with some success as described in this article.
In February 2016, at the EITI Members’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, Victor Hart (Member) from Trinidad and Tobago and Maria Isabel Ulloa Cruz (Alternate), Vice-Minister Mines, Colombia, were elected to the EITI Board (2016-2019) to represent Region 6 Implementing Countries (Europe: Norway, Albania, UK and Germany; Americas: USA, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, The Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago). They held a side-meeting with participants from EITI Region 6 who were attending the 7th EITI Global Conference and among the subjects discussed was the building and strengthening of cooperation among the Region 6 implementing country-members. It was agreed to begin by introducing a Peer Partnership Initiative through which the then newly admitted Implementing Country Members, Germany and The Dominican Republic, will each be paired with an experienced country from the region as its Peer Partner to guide them through EITI implementation and their first EITI Report and first Validation.
Since the decision to establish the Peer Partnership Initiative, the membership of Region 6 has changed by the withdrawal of USA in 2017 and the admission of Suriname, Guyana and Mexico in 2017, The Netherlands in 2018 and Argentina in 2019. At the end of 2018, EITI Region 6 was restructured to comprise Latin America and Caribbean countries only: LA: Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, The Dominican Republic and Argentina; and Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Guyana. The Board Representatives also changed and currently are Victor Hart (Member) and Carolina Rojas Hayes (Alternate), Vice-Minister Mines, Colombia. To date, the pairings have been: Germany with Albania; The Dominican Republic, Mexico and Argentina with Colombia; and Suriname and Guyana with Trinidad and Tobago.
Under the Peer Partnership Initiative, by mutual agreement, the Secretariat of a new Implementing Country is paired with the Secretariat of an experienced implementing country, as its Peer Partner to receive routine guidance and problem-solving advice, as and when it so requests. Such guidance and advice is intended to avoid the new Country having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ to solve problems that more experienced members in the region already may have solved. The aim is to bring more certainty to the implementation process and so avoid most of the delays from mis-steps that new countries often make. As a result, the journey to successful validation could be shorter and less costly. Also, whereas the International Secretariat remains the final arbiter for queries from members, the solving of problems at regional level will reduce the oversight role that the International Secretariat is called upon to play in the Country’s implementation process and so lessen its overhead expenses in servicing new members. Also, the cooperation among and mutual support by Region 6 countries will help develop a stronger region that is better able to play a meaningful role on the Board and in the EITI worldwide movement.
Region 6 members see the Peer Partnership Initiative as a practical application of the statements made by Jonas Moberg in 2015 and Mark Robinson in 2018 that takes peer to peer learning to a new level. In order to ensure uniformity in how the initiative is implemented across the region, a Model Peer Partnership Initiative Principles and Guidelines document was produced as an implementing template for possible use by countries that agree to adopt and implement the initiative. It is hoped that some other regions might adopt or adapt the Region 6 Peer Partnership Initiative idea and improve it by their own changes.