By Caitlin Mapitsa
Under the leadership of Professor Chilisa and Afrea, CLEAR-AA has been exploring what is meant by “evaluation made in Africa.” While we have various hypotheses about what is regionally specific and relevant for innovating in terms of methods and systems, we have struggled to build a cohesive research agenda to explore this.
When I heard that Professor Chilisa was at Wits for a conference on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), I jumped at the opportunity to present our work and share knowledge.
We prepared a paper on the relationship between epistemology and identity of the evaluators who were surveyed as part of the development of the Afred database. To our surprise, our paper was the only one in the field of governance, methods or management, and we found ourselves part of a very nascent, but very committed association of scholars with a strong emphasis on education and teaching. The conference discussions focused on African methods and experiences. However, there was less effort taken to move this analysis up the results chain, and look at how epistemology shapes program design, or how values systems are reflected in systems of teaching and learning. I learned a lot from the workshop, especially about the need to consciously integrate the producers and consumers of knowledge within M&E.
One of the reasons I think the M&E space is so exciting at the moment is that multidisciplinary approaches offer opportunity for innovation. The conference emphasized that for innovation to take place, collaboration and discussions have to be curated to support this because innovation is not necessarily an organic process. In conclusion I think more platforms are needed for scholars to share experiences about how epistemological lenses shape their work.