The Belarusian authorities’ experience with Frontex’s language tool provides a concrete example of the real impact of the EaP IBM Capacity Building Project, and how it has helped change the way Border Guards in the Eastern partnership countries function.
Andrei Konnov of the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus explains that the tool was used effectively to increase language skills in the country. Mr. Konnov says he is convinced that that the software, combined with training provided by the agency, went a long way toward streamlining the process of teaching the country’s Border Guards to communicate in English.
The first step in the process of deploying the language tool came when, at the request of the Belarusian authorities, Frontex organised a training course known as “Basic & Mid-Level English for Border Guards at Airports: Training of National Multipliers.” This Frontex training is structured to reach a large number of border guards to help them improve their English skills, as required both for performing daily tasks and for Frontex-coordinated joint operations at airports. In March 2016, the Agency provided a two-day workshop in Minsk, during which participants learned how to use the computer-based language tool developed by Frontex specifically for border guards. The program includes real-life situations, video recordings and tailored exercises.
In line with the training’s strategy of using multipliers to build capacity quickly, once the trainees become familiar with the program they are expected to pass this knowledge on to their colleagues. As a result of the workshop, followed up by the later efforts of the national multipliers, the Frontex language tool has come to be widely used by Belarusian border guards.
“On the one hand, the tool is used during English classes, while training border control cadets to perform their professional activities at border crossing points, and on the other hand the cadets have the opportunity to use the tool during their work outside the classroom, choosing for themselves a suitable pace and time for studying,” Mr. Konnov said when asked to describe how the tool is used in practice. “Another achievement is the widespread use of this software in the process of retraining and advanced training of border control officers, carried out within special courses provided by the Institute of the Border Service of the Republic of Belarus,” he added.
Mr. Konnov stressed that the process of increasing language training capacity went smoothly and did not required additional spending outlays, because the Belarusian Border Service Institute already had all the necessary equipment. Moreover, there was a very positive attitude toward the tool among participants in the training, and people within the Service were eager to test its possibilities.
“The training facility where the educational process was carried out is equipped with state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, which made the introduction of the tool smooth and quick enough to facilitate the process of studying English in short-term classes,” Konnov said. The introduction of the software was also smoothed by the absence of any administrative difficulties, and the great willingness of Border Guards to begin using the tool as quickly as possible,” he added.
“Judging by the results that our cadets and officers have achieved during their English classes, we may note that this tool is the perfect instrument to achieve the aims it pursues,” Konnov continued. “It helps increase the level of all communicative skills of border guards in English, with the main stress on speaking and listening”
Konnov added that he also recommends the implementation of the tool by border guard authorities in other countries.
“In our opinion, the advantages of implementation of the tool are obvious in the sphere it covers, and for all other countries thinking of introducing it, we would like to offer our advice that it is certainly worth adopting.”