Greetings! I’m Lilian Chimuma, a Doctoral student at the University of Denver. I have a background in research methods and a strong interest in the practice and application of Evaluation. I believe cultural competence is central to the practice of evaluation and it varies contextually. I am recently exploring the context and scope of evaluation practice in developing countries.
Evaluations in developing Nations are amenably founded on and informed by Western paradigms. Many of these models reflect particular philosophies specific to the environments and conditions surrounding them, rather than those for the nations in which they are applied. Research and related discussions highlight concerns regarding the practice of evaluation in developing countries, including: cultural, contextual, and political reasons. Considering AEA’s stance on cultural competence, and its role and value in quality evaluation, it is essential to review evaluation practices across nations adopting evaluation paradigms developed in or by evaluators from regions other than their own. Such practices would advance social justice relative to indigenous cultures.
I focus on Africa in this discussion, highlighting some of the issues, and efforts towards the practice of evaluation.
The African Evaluation Association (AfrEA): Since its inception, AfrEA has grown and expanded its visibility within and beyond the continent. Among issues discussed by AfrEA members, the practice of evaluation given diverse cultural contexts on the continent stands out. Specifically, factors impacting the practice of evaluation on the continent include:
- Education and education systems reinforce colonial models and approaches to learning thus the teaching and practice of evaluation reflects western ideologies.
- Evaluations are done and sponsored by NGO’s that are in most cases funded and managed by western parties and entities. Tension between authentic evaluation practices and evaluation reflective of specific ideologies threaten legitimacy and credibility.
- Rising to the occasion, AfrEA srives to address concerns about evaluation, what it means, and its practice across Africa….
- The key theme for AfrEA’s 2017 Conference, “the foundation for promoting and advocating AfrEA’s ‘Made in Africa” approach’, reinforces the need to revisit, and redefine the practice of evaluation in Africa.
- Various blog discussions on AfrEA’s site highlight the efforts and contributions towards decontextualizing evaluation in Africa. These include posts by: Steven Gruzd, Charles Dhewa, Janvier Ndagijimana, and Fanie Cloete (March, June, and December, 2016).
- A suggested approach for evaluation in Africa (See “African Thought Leaders Forum on Evaluation and Development, Bellagio, Nov 2012” p. 30-38): An African-rooted evaluation Approach!
- Evaluation is vastly evolving in Africa considering cultural and contextual factors.
- This is promising with implications for more actionable and practical evaluations.
- Support for similar initiatives across other developing nations would advance and promote the growth and practice of evaluation, hence implications for cultural competence.
- Evaluations should respect the culture, and not necessarily adopt evaluation frameworks coming from other cultures. Especially when they may not be appropriate!
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