Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) Week: Lessons Learned from Launching an Online M&E Boot Camp by Faizan Rashid

This week’s posts highlight reflections from the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI), a global network of organizations and experts working together to support the strengthening of monitoring, evaluation, and the use of evidence in developing countries. GEI uses an integrated systems-based approach and works closely with governments, evaluation professionals, and other stakeholders on efforts that are country-owned and aligned with local needs and perspectives.

-Liz DiLuzio, Lead Curator, AEA365

Hi, I am Faizan Rashid, Sr. Associate at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), which hosts the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Pakistan and Central Asia (CLEAR-PCA), an Implementing Partner of the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI). Our mission is to improve decision-making through the use of evidence and to build monitoring and evaluation (M&E) capacities in Pakistan and the Central Asian region.

The M&E space in Pakistan is in its nascent stages. There is a critical need to build capacity for M&E professionals who work with public, private, and multilateral organizations to design and implement various development sector programs. There is also a lack of consolidated resources and career readiness programs for students and young professionals that strengthen their technical and soft skills within the realms of M&E.

In support of GEI’s focus on Young and Emerging Evaluators (YEEs), and to help bridge the gap between university learning and hands-on experience, CLEAR-PCA launched the Monitoring & Evaluation Boot Camp, a three-part, open-enrollment online training program focusing on essential skills and concepts required for program design, management, and evaluation.  The program has three main modules: Monitoring & Evaluation, Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methodologies, and Project Management. We’d like to share several things that we have learned from organizing this Boot Camp that might help you with a similar project.

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Online capacity-building initiatives may attract more women and be a valuable tool to increase female labor market participation. Across both iterations of the training, a majority of participants were female: over 60% in the first iteration, increasing to over 70% in the second iteration. Typically, we witness a much lower number of female participants for our in-person trainings (only 29.5% of participants in a recent in-person training). The online course also led to employment at CERP for two of its alumni, one of whom is female. This progress has sparked our curiosity about assessing the program’s potential role in enhancing the employability of participants, especially women. One hypothesis we intend to explore further is related to how the program may specifically aid women in reentering the workforce after a career break or even inspire them to consider transitioning to the development sector. This is particularly important given that only 22% of women are employed in Pakistan, placing the country’s female labor force participation among the lowest globally.
  2. Teaching teams should be a mix of leading M&E specialists and global experts. The approximately 20-member course team comprised of not only academics (from Yale, Oxford, Harvard, LUMS, and University of Toronto, among others), but also practitioners (from Meta, Palladium, Amazon, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Participants were, therefore, given an opportunity to discuss practical applications of what they were learning, contextualize the theories within Pakistan’s unique circumstances, and gain a better understanding of the nuances and technicalities of M&E.
  3. Online courses continue to be a valuable training tool in a post-COVID world. The shift to remote work and remote learning due the global COVID pandemic has had a profound effect on online learning. According to the World Economic Forum, the biggest growth in online learners has come from emerging economies, signaling that online learning is an important tool helping to close the global skills gap. Online training courses offer flexibility and attract a global audience committed to learning. Our training program attracted not only participants from Pakistan but also from the Pakistani diaspora residing in various cities such as London, Manchester, New York, Seattle, Syracuse, and Riyadh.
  4. Invest in social media to attract younger participants. Since the training was targeting YEEs, we invested in social media influencer marketing: the fastest growing online acquisition method around the world. Not only did it yield an 11X return on investment (ROI) in the first iteration, and a 10X ROI in the second iteration, it helped us employ a global best practice to meet our audience where they’re at, expand our approach creatively with the latest innovative platforms, and generate M&E awareness as a byproduct.

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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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