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Blog: Birds of a feather flock together

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Sive Yami (SAMEA EE Coordinator)

Posted 9 months ago

There has been a lot of engagement around creating a cadre of evaluators within the continent and South Africa being no exception. However, there hasn’t been action, and if there has been – it was not documented. In 2021, the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) embarked on recruiting Emerging Evaluators (EEs) as part of the EE Internship Programme. They were hosted by selected institutions who provided the interns with skills in M&E and to increase their employability.

Thanks to UNICEF South Africa for supporting this dream and making it become a reality. SAMEA and UNICEF South Africa have a common agenda of establishing a cadre of evaluators in the region. This is all part of the resolution – there is a lack of African technical evaluators to undertake evaluations in Africa hence there is always parachuting of global north evaluators into Africa.

How did the EE Internship Programme start?

The Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results Anglophone Africa (CLEAR AA), South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched the Emerging Evaluator (EE) programme to actively engage EEs in the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) space, stimulate interest in the profession, and build the capacities of the EEs to gain employable experience in M&E within South Africa and in the Southern African region. A call was shared inviting emerging evaluators to submit a motivation as to why they should be part of this programme. As a result, six interns were recruited. Four commenced their employment on 1 April 2022, while two interns started on 1 May 2022. The interns were placed at host organisations that expressed interest in the programme, had a strong M&E function and had the capacity to support the interns. The host organisations were JET Education Services, Data Innovators, Southern Hemisphere, CREST, Ndlovu Care Group and SAMEA. Each host organisation signed a Memorandum of Agreements (MoA) with SAMEA, which governed their relationship. The interns gained many skills and knowledge through learning by working under the supervision of monitoring and evaluation technical specialists at their respective host organizations and their mentors. The EE programme was initially intended for six months so that the interns could draw on as much knowledge and skills as possible, but it was later extended by an additional six months for four of the EE interns.

Their experiences…

Questions were posed to the interns regarding their experience, and the EE interns had similar responses. Many indicated that their expectations were met.

Gillian, working at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) said the following: “My expectations were to gain real world work experience in evaluation, to apply the knowledge I had in evaluation, to learn new skills, to receive mentorship and to network. My expectations have been met.”

Sivenati working at SAMEA enjoyed the capacity building workshops: “Capacity building and being able to take on many tasks were some of my expectations coming into the EE programme. In the early stages of my internship, I was fortunate to participate in one of the online capacity building workshops.”

Timothy from Data Innovators stated “During my first 6 months in this programme, I participated in an array of evaluations and monitoring and evaluation related tasks and client deliverables. This allowed me to gain a lot of experience in a new field in a short time. I received helpful advice and insights from colleagues, and I was able to learn from my mistakes".

Sibongile from Ndlovu Care Group indicated that “The program is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in advancing their career in M&E and having a mentor has been extremely beneficial.”

With the 2022/23 EE programme cohort coming to an end on 28 April, this leaves little time to catch up and absorb everything that could increase the chance of employability for the EEs. This is a great investment by UNICEF. The EE Internship Programme has been a great success story for the EE interns. Two EEs in 2022/2023 secured employment at their host organisation. Timothy from Data Innovators and Sivenati Yami from SAMEA both received employment opportunities from their respective host organisations. Timothy has been transitioning into and is now the MELT Researcher and Sivenati is the new EE coordinator as of January 2023.

What is next for the EE Internship Programme?

The EE interns are now left with two check-in meetings with SAMEA. SAMEA will have close-off and reflection meetings with the host organisations and the EE mentors. Conversations between SAMEA and UNICEF are taking place regarding a 2023/24 cohort, which will most likely be around mid-2023. The EE Topical Interest Group (EE TIG) is also in full swing and a meeting will be held in the second week of March 2023. Stay connected on our channels to find out more: Website: | Twitter: @SAMEA_ZA | Facebook: SAMEA | LinkedIn: SAMEA_

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