The common training is literally construed as combined training imparted to the Probationary Officers from all over the country who join the programme held by the Civil Services Academy (CSA), Lahore after having passed out highly competitive CSS Examination which is conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), Islamabad at different centres. Thereafter, a merit-wise list of selectees belonging to various Occupational Groups is sent to the Establishment Division, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad for issuing offer letters to the selectees for regular appointment in BS-17 with an option to accept the offer letters sent to the them, send acceptances to the Establishment Division, Civil Services Academy and departments as per their Occupational Groups. In case of offer letters accepted by the selectees, the Civil Services Academy, Lahore writes a detailed welcome letters to the selectees whereby they are apprised of the environment within the premises of the Civil Services Academy, Common Training Programme (CTP) being a residential training programme. The selectees are also welcomed to contact the Coordination Wing of CSA telephonically to obtain any further information concerning what documents they have to bring along with them on the day of joining the CSA, and any other personal belongings, on their own responsibility, that they may consider necessary to bring in addition to the on-campus residential facilities. There are separate hostels for male and female Probationary Officers at the Walton Campus of the Civil Services Academy and that they are finally expected to reach the Civil Services Academy, Lahore for joining the training programme by a specific date.
On their arrival at CSA, the process of registration is completed for which prior arrangement is made by deputing a team of expert officials and officers. Room allocation in hostels is carried out fairly through balloting. After the Probationary Officers have occupied their rooms in the respective hostels, inaugural ceremony is held in the Main Hall with seating capacity of 500 people. In the said ceremony, the Director General being the overall head of the Institution addresses the Probationary Officers. Subsequently, the Director (CTP) being head of the Programme Wing, the Director(A&F) being head of Administration Wing, Chief Instructors, Director(Capacity Building), Additional Directors from Programme, Administrating and Information Technology Wings, Deputy Directors and other officers having multifarious assignments, also address the Probationary Officers giving them an exposure into various subjects to be taught to them during their stay at the Civil Services Academy, Lahore.
To gauge their proficiency in Information Technology as well as typing speed, the whole batch of the Probationary Officers is given opportunity to sit in well-equipped computer labs., at the initial stage under direct supervision of the Additional Director and Deputy Director of the IT Wing so that decision may be taken to give more opportunities to those Probationary Officers with weak proficiency to benefit from the computer labs., in the evening to improve their skills of Information Technology which is a graded activity of the training programme.
Training framework: The training activities are a beautiful blend of curricular and co-curricular activities. Modernization and updating curriculum in the light of contemporary requirements is a hallmark of CTP.
Keeping in view, some of the major initiatives that were introduced during the last CTP which included, Digital Learning Management Platform, restructuring of Community & Field Work, introduction of course module on psycho-social skills, collaboration with Burki Institute of Public Policy for Syndicate Research and revamping of Syndicate Research with inclusion of research coordinators were further refined and improved in the light of stakeholders feedback.
Glimpses of new initiatives:
We here at Civil Services Academy continuously strive to improve standard of training and teaching techniques in an effort to bring training quality at par with international standards, being practiced in leading institutions of public sector training institutions.
With each passing year the challenge is becoming intense. One of the reasons is that the number of officers joining civil service, having degrees from eminent universities of the world and experience of exposure to diverse training techniques and prior job experience, is continuously on the rise. Thus engaging these officers meaningfully into training activities i.e. On one hand making this training challenging for them and at the same time utilizing their relevant knowledge and skills for the benefit of all, is an arduous task. Some new initiatives were also launched during 47th CTP. CSA firmly believes that probationary officers are talented pool of individuals. Accordingly, a new initiative of selecting Teaching Assistants (TAs) from amongst the probationary officers was introduced.
Teaching Assistants: We have designed our curricular component in a manner which focuses on participatory mode rather than monologue in the form of lecture discussion. In order to utilize the knowledge and skills of officers having prior knowledge and experience, of core subjects being taught during CTP, the officers were selected through a competitive process to work as Teaching Assistants. The objective is to develop strong collaborative probationer-Instructor arrangement for facilitation of academic discussions and Mentor-ship, to assist the Course Instructors with Instructional responsibilities ,to moderate the group discussions without compromising the quality,to Prepare class for discussion, On successful completion of CTP the performance of Teaching Assistants are reviewed and Certificates / Awards to high performing Teaching Assistants are awarded on Passing Out Ceremony.
Discussion Group Sessions (DGS): To encourage probationary officers to take initiative and participate in DGS on their own, specific sessions are allocated where the probationary officers participate in Discussion Group Sessions. The Teaching Assistants facilitate group discussions. A group coordinator is nominated from amongst the probationers of the sub groups who recorded synopsis for each sub-group. Each probationary officer of the sub-group submits the reply through LMS. This helps in improving writing skills and thinking abilities of under training officers.
Self-Study Sessions: To inculcate sense of responsibility among probationary officers and to provide flexibility during the leaning process, Self-Study Sessions are offered to the probationary officers. Teaching Faculty identifies the topics for self-study sessions.
BUILDING CAPACITY TO USE RESEARCH EVIDENCE (BCURE): A comprehensive & rigorous module based on blended learning and designed by Harvard Kennedy School, USA on evidence based decision making, is a permanent feature of Common Training Programme. It comprises of the following six training modules:
BCURE employs Blended Learning Technique which means that learners start with the interactive online unit and then move on to in-class lectures and exercises. A unique beneﬁt of blended learning is that we can use learner data from the online modules to guide in-class discussion. The objective of BCURE is to empower policymakers to access, appraise and use research evidence for better decision making and better governance The training is based on in-depth assessment of capacities of civil servants and barriers to evidence use. It aims to build practical skills and frameworks, and increase motivation to use data and evidence. The ultimate Objective is to build a ‘culture of evidence’ in Pakistan’s civil service. During 47th CTP, two digital BCURE units (Impact Evaluations & Systematic Approaches to Policy Decisions) were conducted by faculty from Harvard Kennedy School which was a great learning experience for the probationary officers of 47th CTP
Clubs: Civil Services Academy aims to foster all round development of a probationary officer. All round development encompasses intellectual, physical and social development. CSA attaches great importance to co-curricular activities to encourage officers to live and work together. There is a balance between curricular and co-curricular activities and probationary officers have to take part in compulsory “Club Activities”. There is a broad spectrum of 21 clubs and probationers are allotted clubs in order of preference. Each club is managed by its president and the secretary who are elected by a process of voting in the first session. Each club has to publish a newsletter to publicize its achievements by the end of every term.
Syndicate Research: Research (qualitative and quantitative) finds answers to things that are unknown, unexplored but critical. It also fills the gaps in knowledge and thus brings improvement in public policy design and practices. Evidence based decision-making, derived from research, is being increasingly used in public sector in Pakistan. It has the potential to bring social change - change that addresses the real issues and actually improves life of the people of Pakistan. To enable the probationary officers to conduct meaningful research on selected topics on social, economic and political issues, they are divided into small groups called ‘Syndicates’ and their corresponding Research & Analysis Groups (RAG’s). Each Syndicate will consist of tentatively 7 to 8 Probationers, which will work on the broader topic of research, whereas aforesaid Syndicate will have three (03) corresponding RAG’s consisting of tentatively 4-5 Probationers, which will work on more specific areas related to the broader topic, assigned to that Syndicate. There are 16 Syndicates and 36 RAG’s during 47th CTP. Research will be conducted by probationary officers in their respective syndicates on the assigned topic. Probationers are encouraged to undertake syndicate research as a major training activity and after collection of information, and rigorous analysis, prepare a comprehensive research report of roughly 6000 words for each RAG and 15,000 words for each Syndicate for presentation.