Evaluating a management skills training programme
A major challenge for many low income countries, particularly those recovering from some form of civil war or other conflict, is in finding the human resources capacity needed to manage civil society or other non-governmental organisations.
In the Sudan, the challenge to provide training in management skills was being met by the British-based NGO RedR UK. Over a period of several years it had delivered many different workshops in a range of management-oriented skills to staff from the Sudanese government, local NGOs and CSOs.
At the end of the funding for the project, I was asked to carry out an evaluation of the programme, to ascertain what impact it had had. My research showed that the programme had been extremely well received, and had enabled many small organisations to function in situations and areas where they had not been able to do so before.
It was also interesting to note an unintended consequence of the programme was in the improvement in self-esteem of local people who had completed training. Many reported that they now felt much more confident in dealing with management issues, particularly where expatriate, international staff were involved. The impact on attitudinal issues such as motivation and self-efficacy are often overlooked within traditional evaluation structures, such as those based on project log frames, but in many cases they are extremely important.
This is a benefit of taking a systems-based approach to an evaluation
. Systems thinking encourages the evaluator to look more carefully at the relationship between a project and its environment, and to reflect on the dynamic nature of the relationship between them. Failing to do this can mean that unintended positive (and sometimes negative) consequences of a project are overlooked.