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Understanding parliamentarian’s incentives to engage with evidence, the parliamentarian’s compass.

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By Kieron Crawley

Over the last year and a half CLEAR AA has been working with parliamentarians across Africa as part of its strategy to strengthen national evaluation systems. Parliamentarians have a unique role acting as a both a source of demand for quality evaluations for oversight and as key players in creating an enabling environment for evaluation systems through enacting policies into law. Raising awareness amongst parliamentarians about the usefulness of evaluation as well as building their capacity to source and interpret evaluation evidence is the foundation of CLEAR’s programming in this area.

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How Politicians and Commissioners of Evaluation have “Captured” the evaluative space in SA

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By Takunda Chirau

Ever found yourself 6 months into the evaluation process, with an evaluation commissioner stating, “Find us evidence for us to shut this project down” and yourself as the evaluator wondering … “what just happened”?…..

In recent times, the word ‘capture’ has become synonymous with the South African political economy. For the purposes of this article, I have borrowed the term ‘capture’ to illustrate how South African politicians and or any other commissioners of evaluation capture evaluations. The theoretical explanation of ‘capture’ was defined by Sutch (2015:2) stated as “the actions of individuals or groups both in the public and private sectors, influencing the formation of laws, regulations, decrees and other government policies to their own personal advantage”.

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How to Launch MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses)

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By Ezethu Mandlelize

Blended learning is the new buzz word gaining traction in the Evaluation Capacity Development (ECD) sector, conjoining the best of both classroom and eLearning methods. It is appealing to a far broader range of learners engaging varied learning styles, circumstances, needs and demands. It combines the support of classroom learning with the flexibility of eLearning. A number of benefits have been cited, in the main, that it is less time consuming, cost effective, greater learner engagement and it uses a combination of creative digital media channels. But, here’s the thing, through my personal experience in managing and delivering a CLEAR-AA MOOC that reached over 8000 online learners, on Results Based Management (RBM), I’ve decided to share with you, the reader, my personal experiences why MOOCs may not always receive the expected attention it deserves.

Wits has become the first university in Africa to offer MOOCs on edX, an online learning platform established by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. The initiative is a response to the dire need for increased placement at South African universities and for access to quality post-school training. The Wits Vice-Chancellor touted our achievement as “a pioneering, innovative project that is unlocking new opportunities for South African universities.” The MOOC is an introductory RBM course targeted at public and development sector practitioners to design and implement results-based, public sector programmes that optimise the use of resources. (more…)

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Peer Learning Strengthens African Evaluation Methods.

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By Caitlin Mapitsa

Twende Mbele is an initiative that began in 2016, building on the partnership between Benin, South Africa, and Uganda, to share experiences and collaborate in strengthening their monitoring and evaluation systems. It was launched at the 2017 meeting of the African Evaluation Association (Afrea), demonstrating the opportunity for synergy, and the growing momentum in building the evaluation sector in the region.

Through Twende Mbele, which means “moving forward together” in Swahili, collaborating countries and others are not only sharing tools and experiences, they are working together to build appropriate systems to improve performance. This has included activities like:

  • diagnosing, and then working to strengthen the gender responsiveness of national monitoring and evaluation systems in Benin, Uganda, and South Africa,
  • training parliaments on strategies to use evidence in oversight,
  • building stronger tools for assessing management performance.

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Of Verbs and Nouns, Harvesting and Fireworks: the Danger of a Single Study

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By Laurie Less

Renowned African literary laureate, Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi’s words ring so true to me, “The danger of a single story… Our lives, our cultures are composed of many overlapping stories, says Chimamanda who warns that if we hear only a single story, we risk a critical misunderstanding”, colloquially we may refer to this as having a limited viewpoint and this may effectively skew our thinking. For evaluators, the single story pose a number of risks in that although the evidence of a single evaluation may not be wrong…. it is however incomplete – ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ – and that is the fundamental difference Evidence Synthesis seek to remedy, in that it produces new knowledge and patterns; addresses complexity; and leads to policy making in support of positive social outcomes.
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