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Blog: Reflections from the BRIDGE M&E Community of Practice meeting held on 27 May 2020

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Melissa King (BRIDGE) and Benita Williams

Posted 3 years ago

BRIDGE Innovation in Education Organization convened an M&E Community of Practice meeting, with its partners SAMEA, Khulisa and Tshikululu. The topic of the meeting was “The impact of Covid-19 on M&E in Education”

Who is BRIDGE?

BRIDGE is an NPO in the education sector with the mission to connect people and to foster collaboration. BRIDGE works with a wide range of stakeholders (civil society, government, funders, educational practitioners, teachers, principals, research organisations, universities and unions) through convening communities of practice. Anyone may join the BRIDGE communities of practice.

In this post, Melissa King from BRIDGE provides a recap of what was discussed in the BRIDGE M&E COP meeting on 27 May 2020. Please do check out the meeting highlights, and some other amazing resources on the BRIDGE knowledge hub here .

As we approach the halfway mark of the 2020 academic year, education stakeholders continue to contend with the effects of Covid-19 on the delivery of learning for all ages and in all contexts. This pandemic demands that immediate but well-considered decisions are made in relation to supporting the education sector. In order to do this, up-to-date and reliable data is required for planning and implementation. And as we proceed, we need to gather evidence about the impact of our interventions, lessons about what works, what we can discard and what we can consolidate – not only for the learners of 2020, but for strengthening system readiness and sustainable efficiencies in the future. For all these reasons the role of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in education has never been more important.

The BRIDGE M&E Community of Practice (CoP) is working with its partners SAMEA, Khulisa and Tshikululu to make sure that our gatherings are relevant, timely and useful. The profound impacts of Covid-19 on the education sector will not be short-lived: the schooling eco-system and its related programme interventions, funding modalities and the role of evaluations will have to be re-assessed. In our most recent online CoP (27 May 2020), over 50 participants engaged around questions such as the following. How do we make sure that we are responding to real needs on the ground? What problems do we face in monitoring interventions as our programmes themselves change and adapt to new conditions? How do we obtain and analyse data under unfamiliar conditions, especially if access to beneficiaries (e.g. principals, teachers or learners) or sites is limited? How do we correlate datasets across the digital divide? How do we collaborate and share information and resources so that we don’t duplicate efforts, waste assets, or put beneficiaries under unnecessary pressure? Discussion ranged from the technicalities of M&E strategies and tools, to the human dynamics involved in the time of Lockdown and beyond; we covered programme-specific concerns, organisational adaptations, and the macro role of M&E in longer-term systems change.

Presentations from three expert evaluators gave CoP members context for these discussions: Coordinating education responses to Covid-19: the role of M&E and the need for evidence (Benita Williams, Benita Williams Evaluation), Navigating M&E Systems during COVID-19: Tips, tools and tricks to allow for insight harvesting (Asgar Bhikoo, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation), and Covid-19 Remote Data Collection (Nyaradzo Mutanha, Tshikululu Social Investments). Benita presented on a number of data-sharing initiatives to increase awareness and support cooperation and collaboration. She also raised the ‘big questions’ about the political nature of evaluation data, and invited us to consider an ‘evaluation agenda’ for a systemic perspective on the role of M&E. Asgar shared some practical tools and strategies for obtaining quality data through off-site monitoring, and adapting analytical frameworks to new contexts. He stressed that, for better operational efficiency, organisations should plan for increased digitisation of their M&E systems. He gave details on a number of resources that would help move organisations forward in this regard. Nyaradzo spoke to our regular ‘M&E Terminology’ section, and shared some remote M&E tools and resources.

The Meeting Highlights report on the BRIDGE website here captures all discussions and provides links to the presentations.

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