I am posting this blog on behalf of Dr Archna Kumar.
Evaluation Community of India organised Evalfest in Feb'20. We had a session on Innovation Bazaar.
There was one group which shared experiences from numerous research studies conducted in different regions of India, by Professors, and Doctoral and advanced Master’s scholars of Department of Development Communication and Extension, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi. These were the presenters
The team used the discussion in their group and MSC methodology to evaluate the EvalFest. Enjoy their report below
The participants at the EvalFest 2020 were asked to narrate the most significant change/learning they had during the three day event. Each of the participating members reflected upon the most significant learning which they experienced during the EvalFest. There were a range of learning /changes that emerged. The changes they experienced and expressed can be categorized into:
Upgradation of the theoretical knowledge:
Many participants expressed that the event resulted in the upgradation of the theoretical concepts in the field of monitoring and evaluation and SDGs. They understood new and innovative techniques used in the field. Also many acknowledged the information about the latest trends in achieving SDGs and the steps taken by the government of the participating countries towards achieving SDGs.
New advancements in the field of M& E:
For many participants the information about the new advancements in the field of M&E was a significant learning. Many spoke about the digitization of PM&E as one of the significant learning. New techniques utilized for evaluating the programmes and projects were discussed and shared. They also got glimpse of the M&E field and the scope it holds in the development sector.
Learning about the process of evaluation:
Though many participants were directly engaged in the M& E tasks in their individual capacities and within the organization they were working, yet interestingly many of them pointed towards an increase understanding of the way evaluation needs to be conducted. Some of them expressed an enhanced comprehension about the entire process of M&E and how to be better practioners at the grass root level. One of the participants elucidated during a session conducted,
‘…while conducting evaluations we are always under constant pressure and are always time bound. however in the EvalFest I learnt that evaluations should be conducted with relaxation. While conducting evaluation it is very important that you are at peace and not burdened and/or bothered by the targets…If we want to evaluate a program or project in its truest sense, its very important that we as evaluators spend time and are not bound by the biases that can creep in owing to the whole pressure of delivering results…’
Importance of community ownership in Evaluation:
Many participants who participated in the Evalfest were associated with different types of organizations private, public and non-governmental. And majority of them were exposed / attuned to doing quantitative evaluations where there is relatively lesser ownership given to the community for whom the project is run/functioning. Thus, for some of the participants the whole idea of community ownership in evaluation and the importance it holds was a significant learning.
Many of the participants expressed cross learning as one of the most significant change they experienced due to the Evalfest. For them the Evalfest provided one of the unique opportunities to have a cross-sectional learning in multiple domains. Since the event saw participation of people involved in the development sector, working with different sets of population and adopting different techniques of M& E, there were appreciative of the cross-learning that took place.
Interestingly of the various learnings participants could relate to and identify, a few also pointed towards the opportunity to unlearn provided to them by the Evalfest. The event was perceived by many as an innovative way of reflecting one’s own false or outdated information / knowledge /practice / technique and resulted in discarding those thoughts/biases/information / knowledge that were usually held by a few of the participants. As one of the male participants narrated,
‘…though every such conference brings about a whole new set of learnings, I personally perceive that the unlearning of the previously held though/beliefs and biases held as my biggest learning/change during the Evalfest…’
While the whole Evalfest was surfaced as a platform for the development practioners to discuss the latest trends and reflect upon the techniques and methods used in the field of M&E, the key focus of the event was on sustaining the good work being done at the community level and creating sensitization towards the important role M&E plays. As a result, the session saw few participants expressing the use of M&E in sustaining change as the most significant learning.
Experience of presentation & public speaking:
While majority of the participants expressed the most significant learning in terms of the process, nature and techniques learnt, a few participants narrated experience of presenting and public speaking as the most significant learning experienced during the Evalfest. According to one of the participants,
‘…the Evalfest has been significant for me. I am hesitant to speak on stage. I got an opportunity to present my paper and was able to reduce my inhibitions and apprehensions with regard to speaking publicly in such a forum. I have gained much more confidence now and am happy and thankful for this…’
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