Creating a pool of water quality trainers at scale

Developing core skills of trainers through the Trainer Certification Program
11 Jan 2023
0 mins read
Strengthening skills of participants to impart training in their respective work areas (Image: INREM Foundation)
Strengthening skills of participants to impart training in their respective work areas (Image: INREM Foundation)

According to the Global Water Quality Index, India ranks 120th out of 122 countries in water quality, its ability and commitment to improving it. Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the flagship scheme on water mandates safe water supply with prescribed quality to every household in rural India through 3 million frontline workers (6 lakh villages x 5 women per village). To accomplish this mission, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of the states to execute.

INREM Foundation supports the Jal Jeevan mission with 3 specific inputs: (1) the Water Quality Management (WQM) Course, (2) Trainer Certification Program and (3) Guided Mentoring platform to connect and support the ecosystem to solve water quality problems. Around 1500 participants from 300+ districts across the country who have completed the WQM course have become ‘Water Quality Champions’ in their respective communities by creating awareness on water quality issues and by  training the frontline workers on Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQM&S) aspects of the Jal Jeevan Mission. Besides bringing more participants to the course, they also contribute as trainers, experts and mentors in the subsequent WQM course batches. 

What is the Trainer Certification Program?

The trainer certification program aims to build the capacities of trainers with the right knowledge on water quality and skills to impart training in their respective work areas and as trainers in the WQM course. It is a virtual training course with modules on specific topics and frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help the trainers get confidence on the subject.

To enroll for the Trainer’s Certification Program, one should have undergone one of INREM’s courses, Basics of Integrated Fluorosis Mitigation ( IFM)  or Water Quality Management (WQM) course. 

The certification program is conducted virtually over zoom in 2 languages, Hindi and English in each session. Each session is customized to the batch based on the local issues on water quality. The course also teaches how to be empathetic to participants and how to be respectful and engage the audience to increase participation. 

The process followed in the Trainer Certification Program comprises of:

  • Onboarding on a single platform: All the participants are asked to join a WhatsApp group, for easy coordination, sending reminders, sharing of content and conducting assessments during the course. 
  • Pre-course assessment: All the applicants to the course are assessed by a test to check their ability to understand, cope with surprises and managing difficult situations.
  • Preparing the session plan: This is vital for effective management of the sessions that are conducted online. This prepares the trainer to deliver & cover topics which are relevant to the session. 
  • Delivery of the topics: The program enters the learning phase where the participants are engaged on different topics required for the certification. The trainer may choose to design the format of the session in such a way to promote active learning.

Assessments at different stages of the program are done to capture the participation during sessions, skills learnt and understanding of the subject as a whole. 

“Trainer certification sessions are more engaging as they offer a mutual opportunity for sharing and learning practices for becoming an effective trainer. Conducting these sessions helped me to reflect on my own ability to communicate complex information into smaller, consumable bytes of knowledge,” says Kiran Kumar Sen, INREM Foundation.

Engaging thousands of Water Quality Champions

“Every session of the WQM course keeps us on our toes every moment. To create a seamless learning experience for participants in the front, there is a lot of coordination that happens at the back end, sometimes minute to minute. I feel the WQM journey helped me discover my curiosity, understand more about sharing knowledge and think innovatively to reach new frontiers. It helped me connect with more people than ever before,” says Kiran Kumar Sen, INREM Foundation. 

INREM has created a pool of trainers that has catalysed the training of thousands of Water Quality Champions. Till now, 205 WQM course participants have been onboarded on the Trainer Certification Program, out of which 100 have completed the program and are being certified as Water Quality Trainers. By INREM’s estimate, to cover some 20 topics and a year of sessions, it multiplies into 200+ trainer sessions and if conducted in 2 languages, English and Hindi, that crosses 400 trainer sessions.

INREM focused on forming a network of learners and doers. To have thousands of professionals across India, interconnected and supporting each other, having undergone a common foundational experience on water, first there was a need to develop a pool of hundreds of trainers. So, in each of the training sessions, people were encouraged to come back again, so they could be trained to become a trainer.

The response was overwhelming. 10% to 20% of participants from the WQM course every month wanted to become trainers. After the foundational course of nine sessions in a month, they came back for a month of three sessions to become a trainer. And there they were, ready to #GiveBack. The chain of goodwill spread as indicated in the chart below. 

The alumni of WQM course are being leveraged as trainers based on their interest and availability for specific sessions in subsequent batches. Till date out of the 1500 participants, 100 participants have come back as trainers in the subsequent batches.

“I was hugely benefited by the course which helped me with the foundational basics. I learnt about the linkages between the water and public health sector. INREM periodically interacts and engages with the trainers and gives us feedback so we can deliver high quality training. I have been conducting the training sessions for the last five months,” says Manoj Kumar Kulshreshth who works with the National Health Mission at Morena underwent the WQM course and subsequently the Trainers Certification Programme.

Another alumni Nupur Rai who was working with the UP Jal Nigam till recently says that the INREM team and the pool of trainers did a great job training people like her to move beyond the lecture-based training method. “As a participant-turned-trainer, I was exposed to new modes of training using innovative methodologies. My confidence and delivery skill improved as I began training and support was provided to me to turn the lectures into an engaging, interactive experience. This was the best train-the-trainer course from a team of seasoned professionals I have attended so far,” says Rai. 

“Initially when I began training for the first time I used to choose courses that were of particular interest to me or which I was comfortable delivering. My conviction has improved and I am able to take up any course selected by the team. From a person with limited training experience I have turned into one who is a better trainer and facilitator now,” she adds. 

Anuja Kalra, a PhD scholar at Indraprastha University, New Delhi attended the foundation course out of sheer curiosity after she chanced upon it on Linkedin. “I went on to attend the Trainers Certification Program even though the course was not directly related to my PhD topic on industrial wastewater treatment. I have been conducting some training sessions in the recent few batches and see this as a way of giving back in some small way to the society,” adds Kalra. 

Anirudh Menon, another alumni says that the Water Quality Management course designed by INREM Foundation and partners has made knowledge sharing accessible and interactive. "They have created a well-designed curriculum which demystifies the technical aspects of water quality. The trainer’s programme allows participants to volunteer their time and share the learnings to subsequent batches. I hope that the course can be taught in multiple languages in the future," he adds.

INREM started the WQM course with 3 members and with 100 trainers, they were able to scale and reach 1500 participants across India in the last 1 year.

Posted by
Get the latest news on water, straight to your inbox
Subscribe Now
Continue reading