Judicial Officers e-Learning (JOeL)
Judiciary is embracing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with almost lightning speed. The need to have a digital environment during the pandemic has accelerated this move. One of the key parameters to ensure that the judiciary gets maximum output out of the advancement of technology is the understanding that the ICT is a tool and not the end. The judicial workforce should have the capability to utilise the ICT infrastructure provided to them optimally. Ideally, infusion of technology should start from both top and bottom and converge in the middle to get enduring results. Currently, with active training and monitoring, the staff in the district judiciary have become equipped to work on the various tools. However, to give best results, the judicial officers who lead the staff should also be fully equipped to face the challenges posed by digitisation. The only method to achieve this is to give adequate training and systemic support to the judicial officers. The Kerala Judicial Academy is entrusted with the task of giving such training. Hitherto, common training was given to all the judicial officers without considering their varying capabilities. It is felt that a “one for all” strategy will not work since all the judicial officers will not have the same skill and aptitude. Different training strategies must be evolved.
Initial training sessions included training on Operating Software (OS) and useful software such as LibreOffice in addition to the training on software specifically designed for judiciary. During the initial years, the time devoted for training regarding the OS was more. During later training the time devoted for training on judicial software increased and the training on basic skills was reduced to the minimum. Till 2019, training was conducted in offline mode, with the assistance of Master trainers selected and trained by the e-Committee. 2-3 master trainers will attend each training session. While one trainer is taking class the other trainers will walk amongst the trainees, helping them, and thereby having a personal feeling about the capabilities and weaknesses of each officer. Each training was scheduled for 2 days. By the end of every training, the master trainers and the trainees will develop a fraternity so that the officers will feel free to get their doubts regarding ICT clarified from the master trainers. During 2020, the training was shifted completely to online mode because of the covid-19 pandemic. The duration of the training was also reduced.
Shortcomings of the current method
Name of the programme
The programme shall be known as Judicial Officers E-Learning programme (JOeL). There will be various levels in the JOeL, which shall be named as mentioned at appropriate places.
At present, there are only 8 active Ubuntu-CIS Master trainers (UMT’s) who are trained by the E-committee of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the state. With such a limited number of trainers, it will not be possible to give personal attention to each of the officers as expected. Enrolling more officers as Ubuntu-CIS Master trainers (UMT’s) of the E-Committee of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is a time-consuming process. Even though Kerala Judicial Academy has started the process for identifying more persons as UMT’s, it may take more time, before they are given adequate training and on-boarded by the E-Committee of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Moreover, the control regarding the number of UMT’s will be with the E-Committee of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Hence it is suggested that sufficient number of officers from each district be identified by the Kerala Judicial Academy to be trained as State Master Trainers (SMT’s).
State Level Master trainers (SMTs)
It is suggested that for every 30 officers, there should be one SMT and not less than two SMT’s from each district. Considering the increasing number of lady officers, one of the SMT’s from each district shall preferably be a lady officer.
Method of Selection
The Kerala Judicial Academy with the assistance of the UMT’s will decide the syllabus for various trainings.
The training needs of each officer must be identified. Thereafter customised training modules are developed based on the training needs of each officer. Identification of training can be done by a three-pronged strategy:
1. Identification by the UMT’s:
UMT’s can identify the training needs based on their assessment of the capability of each trainee in following the training imparted by them.
2. Identification by the nodal officers:
The nodal officers of each district can assess the training needs of the officers in the district either based on personal experience or based on feedback from District System Administrators and System Officers deployed in the field.
3. Self-identification by the officers themselves:
Kerala Judicial Academy shall prepare and circulate appropriate surveys in google form amongst officers. Appropriate training strategy can be adopted based on the analysis of the answers given by each officer in the Form prescribed.
The entire process shall be conducted confidentially. The UMT or the nodal officer shall not disclose to the individual officer their assessment. The communications to the Kerala Judicial Academy shall also remain confidential.
1. Initiation training (JOeL-Initiation):
A two-hour online training will be given to all officers in the first and second weeks of April, 2021 as per the syllabus approved. This training will be conducted by the UMTs.
2. Training of trainers (ToT)for SMT’s (JOeL-ToT):
The UMTs will give a two-day training to the newly selected SMT’s. As far as possible, this training will be hands-on and can be conducted in the Kerala Judicial Academy. The first day of training will be a basic level training regarding OS and software. The second day will be an advanced level training for the SMTs. The basic level training will consist of basic computer skills and advanced training will consist of detailed exposure to the various judicial and administrative software.
3. Percolation Training (PeT) for STG(JOeL-PeT):
SMT’s will conduct a percolation training for STGs in their district. This will be conducted within 15 days of the ToT on a date decided by the District Judge. The training will be for 3 hours. The District Judge shall ensure that all the District System administrators and System Officers attend the training without fail. The purpose of the training shall be to orient the STG in addressing the training needs of individual officers, providing necessary guidance to STG and to percolate the materials provided to the SMT’s regarding basic training to STG. Since the basic qualification of System officers and system administrators is computer knowledge and skill, there is no need to give them any training on these skills. At the same time, the SMT’s shall ensure that if any member of STG requires any further training, that should be provided.
4. (a)Level I of Judicial Officers E-Learning programme (JOeL-1):
After the identification of training needs of each officer, Kerala Judicial Academy with the assistance of UMTs and SMT’s will develop the customised training modules for each officer. Members of STG will impart training to individual officers in their chamber itself. The timing of the training will be flexible and have to be completed within a time band. For example, if an officer is identified to require 2 hours training on the Operating system, to be done within 15 days, it can be done either in a single day for 2 hours, 2 days of 1 hour each or four days for ½ hour each etc. at the convenience of the STG members and trainee. If the training is completed early, the same can be reported and the training can be marked as completed. In any case the training will have to be completed within the 15th day, failing which the officer as well as the member of STG will have to file proper and adequate explanation with the Director for not completing the same. Upon attaining the requisite skill, the training can stop. Till then the training sessions can be conveniently scheduled at the convenience of the officer. JOeL-1 training will be a continuing programme. It will continue till all officers in the JOeL-1 group graduate to the JOeL-2 group. At the end of each JOeL-1 time band, the officer will have to fill an online form (Google form) giving details of the training to the Academy. The trainer, system administrator will also have to give a similar online report to the Academy showing the details of the programme.
5. (b) Level II of Judicial Officers E-Learning Programme (JOeL-2):
This training is to be imparted to those officers who are identified to be having basic skills in IT. Two JeEL-2 programmes will be conducted in a year. Both will be one day programmes conducted at district level. First JeEL-2 training will be for all officers who do not require JeEL-1 training. If during the initial JeEL-2 training, it is identified that any officer who does not have basic skills have been included in the JeEL-2 training, the SMT’s can recommend confidentially to the Kerala Judicial Academy to give such persons JeEL-1 training. There upon the Kerala Judicial Academy, shall provide JeEL-1 training to such officers utilising STG. The second JeEL-2 programme will be conducted 6 months after the first JOeL-2 programme. If any officer in the JeEL-2 training group feels that they require further JOeL-2 training, they may also be included in the second JOeL-2 training. It will be conducted for those officers who have graduated after the JOeL-1 programme. The JOeL-1 programme will cover in detail various modules in CIS, various judicial IT initiatives and software. JOeL-2 will continue till SMT’s certify that every officer in their district has acquired sufficient advanced computer skills and they do not require any JOeL-2 training further. The scheduling and selection of participants for JOeL-2 will be done by Kerala Judicial Academy in consultation with SMT’s of that district. If Kerala Judicial Academy is conducting any other district level training programme, this programme can be clubbed together with such programme.
6. Level III of Judicial Officers E-Learning programme (JOeL-3):
Every year, the Kerala Judicial Academy will conduct a one-hour online programme for all officers preferably between 4 pm and 5 pm on any working day utilising the services of SMT/UMT. This will be basically for giving awareness on the advancement in the software and technology. The syllabus for such training will be decided by the Kerala Judicial Academy.
Timelines for completion
The training shall be completed within the timelines approved by the Academy.
It is felt that training on technology will be effective only if the officers feel that it is for their benefit and feel a sense of urgency in adapting the technology. Moreover, when the number of Master trainers increases an appropriate strategy should be devised to keep them motivated. Hence the following is humbly suggested: