Westminster Foundation moves to tackle capacity gaps at Assembly Hansard Unit

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Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), yesterday conducted a daylong intensive training for staff of the National Assembly Hansard Department. The training held at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) aims to enhance the staff capacity in producing quality verbatim reports of parliamentary proceedings.

The participants were also introduced to their role, style, parliamentary words, jargons, concepts, legislative and legal terms, writing skills, techniques and editing skills.

The WFD country representative, Madi Jobarteh said the training is designed to enhance the staff’s efficiency so that they are better able to serve the members.

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He said apart from the training, WFD has provided equipment including transcribing software and recorders to the Hansard Department.

Mr Jobarteh also commented on the importance of the Hansard Department’s work and reaffirmed WFD’s commitment to support the unit and other parliamentary departments.

He said apart from the important role Handsard plays at the National Assembly, the work they do is of great importance to students and researchers.

“The importance of Hansard work is huge so it has to make sure that the reports it produced serve their purpose. You go to the UK parliament today; you find Hansard reports that were prepared in the nineteen seventies. So, that being the case, staff of the unit should have knowledge on almost everything to prepare themselves well to be able to serve the unit efficiently,” he said.

For her part, the director of Parliament’s Hansard Department, Isatou Gassama welcomed the support from WFD which she described as commendable.

She highlighted that the unit is facing challenges in terms of human resource, capacity and lack of modern equipment that would reduce the load work on staff at the unit.

“It is important for the staff to be trained and as well given the opportunity to visit other countries on study tours to learn Hansard Units in other countries are doing their work,” he said. Gassama was however quick to note that the unit has improved significantly during the administration of the current parliament.

“But despite the progress made we still need more human resources especially in the areas of transcribers because we only have seven who are responsible for transcribing contributions of 57 NAMs,” she added.

The Hansard Department is responsible for preparing substantially verbatim reports – with repetitions and redundancies omitted and obvious mistakes corrected – of parliamentary proceedings.