Monday, November 19, 2012

Evaluation is an opportunity for transformation!

'Provide a voice to the most marginalised groups in society.’  ‘As an evaluator you have a role to play in transforming perspectives.  Clearifying your values, and in my case using participative approaches in promoting equity and equal participation in change’,  is one of the most important lessons I gained from the e-learning course ‘Equity-Focused Evaluations’.      This distance learning course is conducted by MyMandE  an initiative of UNICEF, the Rockeveller Foundation, Claremont Graduate University and IOCE.    The main goal is to support evaluation expert’s to update their knowledge and skills in conducting evaluations and providing them with the latest developments in evaluations. For more information watch the video:  My MandE – E-learning on Development Evaluation.

What is an equity-focused evaluation?
An Equity-focused evaluation is a judgement made of the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. It provides assessments of what works and what does not work to reduce inequity, and it highlights intended and unintended results for worst-off groups as well as the gaps between best-off, average and worst-off groups. It provides strategic lessons to guide decision-makers and to inform stakeholders.  Equity-focused evaluations provide evidence-based information that is credible, reliable and useful, enabling the timely incorporation of findings, recommendations and lessons into the decision-making process.  Read more about >>>> Defining Equity Focused Evaluations.

The design of the course and lesson learned
Starting from September 2012 I participate weekly in a distance learning class. Every week two experts present and share their expertise on a specific topic related to equity-focused evaluations.  Each lesson is composed of a 30-minute video lecture,  15 page reading of literature, completed with conducting a multiple-choice test.  Read more about >>>> the program.  After each lesson the participants share their feelings, views and questions as a Linked-in platform.
Sofar the lessons about values, program theories and logframes, system thinking, case study approach and developmental evaluations were most helpful for me.  Some of the lessons and eye-openers I gained;

  • Communicate your values at the start of your evaluation and integrate them in your evaluation plan and approach;
  • Ensure that the marginalised groups integrated in the programme get an equitable voice in the evaluation process;
  • Focus on understanding how change comes and do not just focus on what happened.  Change does not come by logical relationships, it is much more complex.  Focus your approach as an evaluator in understanding the local context and understand the intervention as embedded in its environment;
  • Ensure that your evaluation team has a broad cultural and gender based diversity which is representing the demands and perspectives in the evaluation;
  • Test your own assumptions continously during the evaluation process and get all the perspectives and assumptions from the stakeholders involved outside the box;
  • The case study approach is a very helpful tool in getting the relationships clear between policy makers, implementing organisations and beneficiaries  and how the context is influencing them. A case study about an educational program involving ministries, municipalities, school directors, teachers, students and their parents provided new insights for me on how lessons can be shared and gained amongst stakeholders;
  • The developmental evaluation approach is a continuous evaluation process which permanently deals with changes in the context. This approach allows the program to be flexible. It is effective in contexts where innovation, complexity, changing demands play an important role.
  • Evaluation is an opportunity for transformation!  Evaluation is not just an assessment, but it is a process involving the main stakeholders in guiding them in leading their own development process.

Moving forward
Some of these major lessons I will integrate in my next evaluation promoting ‘the participative approach’ as my most important value.  Evaluation is an opportunty for transformation!  The e-learning training about ‘Equity-Focused evaluations’ will continue up to 16th December 2012.  A new course about ‘National Evaluation Capacity Development for country led evaluations’ will start in January 2013.  Read more about >>> e-learning courses on Development Evaluation.

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