'Learning to Unlearn' as a Tool to Reverse the Bureaucratic Attitudes: a Case Presentation on Experience with the Facilitation Approach

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Two key aspects are identified to the success of a programme: (i) change in bureaucratic attitudes and (ii) organisation of beneficiaries for self-help. Bureaucrats focus on targets, especially financial targets, refuse to see problems through the people's eyes, refuse to listen, and are unconcerned with the needs of the poor. Hence, a need for reversing bureaucratic attitudes. One way is to put officials in an environment in which they become sensitised through learning from farmers/villagers (e.g. through overnight stays in villages). It is important that department heads provide support and role models for such activities. Resistance by officials is possible. The application of PRA/RRA methods to reversal exercises are described, and learning steps listed. If facilitating is to be successful, officials have to be committed to the process and open to villagers' ideas. Organisations in India for which the process would be suited are suggested. The author's personal experience is that the process changed his personal as well as professional approach to interaction with others.

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This personal reflection will be of interest to those who work in or with bureaucratic organizations, particularly, but not exclusively, in India.
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