Our Introduction to Parliaments e-learning course is now available in Portuguese on the E-Learning Portal. The lusophone version has been developed as part of the Project for Strengthening technical and functional skills of Supreme Audit Institutions, National Parliaments and Civil Society for the control of public finances in the PALOP and Timor-Leste (Pro PALOP-TL SAI). The project is fully funded by the European Union.
Parliaments are one of the key institutions in contemporary democracies. Legislatures represent and articulate the views of a diversity of people and groups who vote for them; they make the rules which govern societies by passing, reviewing and amending the law; and they oversee the actions and spending of the executive branch. They play, therefore, a crucial role in improving governance and the delivery of public services.
Welcome message by Charles Chauvel, Parliamentary Development Adviser, United Nations Development Programme and a former Member of the Parliament of New Zealand (2006-2013):
"The United Nations Development Programme, together with its many valued partners in the AGORA project, is delighted to have produced this e-learning for new MPs. I know from my time as a parliamentarian how bewildering the new environment can be, and what an adjustment is required for you and those close to you as you move into the unrelenting glare of the spoltlight trained on those in public life. I hope the resource helps you to make the transition well, and to be effective in the new role. Very best wishes!"
The roles and powers of parliaments vary greatly across the world, along with the variations between political and legal systems of states. A number of factors – such as institutional capacity and resources, transparency, public perceptions or the degree of independence - can determine how, and how effectively, parliaments perform their functions.
The course gives a comprehensive overview of the role and functions of members of parliament (MPs) and parliamentary staff across the main political and legal systems in an interactive and multiform way. It offers a range of practical tips on how to make their work more effective across various aspects, matched with concrete examples and case studies from around the world. By zooming in on the engagement of national parliaments with the executive, international community, constituents, interest groups and the media, the course is relevant not only to parliamentary practitioners but anyone who wants to learn more about the work, functioning and powers of parliaments. For those looking for more detailed information, the course suggests further reading materials.
In total, the course covers 8 modules. The first module introduces you to the role of parliament, the parliamentary secretariat and the importance of rules and customs. Module 2 gives you tips on establishing a dialogue with your constituents and on creating inclusive and transparent parliaments. In the third module, we will explain what parliamentary groups do and how they can help you in your work. Module 4 moves on to law making. We reveal how to identify the problems your constituents face and how to draft, and pass effective legislation. Module 5 discusses how you can work towards effective routine oversight. Module 6 will discuss how you can review, amend, approve and oversee the annual budget. Module 7 introduces you to the role of the media. The last module reveals the ethics code – the rights and privileges you have as parliamentarian.
Every module starts with an introduction page that explains the learning objectives. At the end of each module the key points are summarised to help you remember what was covered.
What you will learn
At the end of this course, you:
- Will appreciate the complexities of your role as an MP
- Will understand how the parliament’s rules and customs shape your work
- Will know how to better and more consistently engage with your constituents and with the media
- Will be aware of the importance of parliamentary groups and cross-party collaboration
- Will have explored the various tools and mechanisms at your disposal for effective law-making and parliamentary oversight
The course was developed for Parliamentarians who are elected for the first time. It is equally valuable, however, to parliamentary staff, development practitioners and donors, students and civil society organizations, and the general public.
At the end of each module you will have to complete a multiple-choice test. To pass, you need to correctly answer at least 80% of the questions. To complete the full course and get the certificate, you need to pass all eight modules.
If you're interested in taking the course, please sign up here.