CLEAR Week: Gemma Stevenson on Building M&E Skills and Knowledge: Lessons from Pakistan

Hello – My name is Gemma Stevenson. I am Associate Director for the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) where we run rigorous research projects and deliver evaluation trainings as part of CLEAR South Asia.

So what have we learnt over the last three years delivering trainings on M&E to the Pakistani government and NGO community? What are their most pressing constraints to conducting quality evaluations, and what do they need in the way of training?

Cool Trick: Taking the time to conduct a demand assessment is a great way of answering such questions. CERP conducted an assessment at the end of last year through a brief survey and in-depth interviews with our partners. The exercise unearthed a number of interesting findings for the Pakistani context

Lesson Learnt: First, there remain a number of conceptual hurdles in M&E among many government and NGO partners. A common confusion is mixing up inputs and outputs and outputs and outcomes. For example, a project to build a library – the outcome was seen as the completion of the physical building and the purchase of all the books rather than, say, an improvement in literacy or an increase in IT skills. Well, good to know so we can try to tackle these fundamental issues head-on when engaging with certain partners during our training activities.

Lesson Learnt: Another interesting finding was that our partners in Pakistan are less immediately focused on developing skills for collecting their data, but more concerned about up-skilling when it comes to analysing data sets. In fact our partners expressed an overwhelming level of interest in developing their skills using statistical software such as STATA.

But here is something which is really telling: when asked about the most significant challenge in conducting more frequent monitoring & evaluation activities, it was not a lack of infrastructure, nor a lack of qualified personnel that posed the biggest challenge, but the lack of specific technical capacity of their personnel. So CLEAR still has a very important role to play in Pakistan! We’ll continue to roll out further training and other capacity building initiatives to try to meet this demand.

Rad Resources: Did you know that if you are teaching a short course using STATA, you can contact STATA Corporation to arrange for a free temporary license for you and your students to load on their laptops.  It’s not advertised, so call them in their Texas offices.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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