Politicians and Activists Switch Places, Find Life Not That Different on Other Side

laine uudised-laine
1. Mar 2011


Hoping to improve public sector cooperation with civil society, NENO brought together 16 pairs of job shadowers, from the government and leading NGOs, who followed their partners in their daily tasks during Citizen's Day on November 26th, last year. Many participants were surprised at how similar work in the public sector and in the third sector really was.

Prominent shadowers included Siim Kiisler, Minister for Regional Affairs, who shadowed at NENO, Keit Pentus, vice-speaker of the Parliament, who shadowed at the Health Estonia Foundation. On the civil society side, Evelyn Valtin from the Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals shadowed the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture Ants Noot.

The purpose of the shadowing day was to dispel stereotypes and avoid future misunderstandings in public sector-third sector partnerships by familiarizing officials from both fields with each-others work environments and everyday practices.

Based on feedback from both parties, the event can undoubtedly be called a success. One civic activist found that the work done in the same field, but in the public sector, was remarkably similar to his own work. Another activist was surprised at how often public officials criticized the system they worked in, while remaining powerless to change it. Public officials, on the other hand, were surprised by the young age of civic activists and the more relaxed atmosphere at local NGOs.

The results? All 18 people who gave us feedback said that they benefited from Shadowing Day. 16 respondents said the experience helped them improve their everyday work and 15 said it provided them with ideas for more inclusive work. With one exception, everyone said they would participate again next year.