When we speak of capacity, we are referring to the capacity that is unique to each individual organization or institution. Developing evaluation capacity takes into consideration its size, budget, professional skill set and experience, sophistication, and the political environment. The evaluation capacity of a neighborhood literacy group will look quite different from that of a U.N. agency. Likewise, cultural context makes the process of developing evaluation capacity within an indigenous group different from that of a government agency. And because ECD is not a linear process, each ECD intervention is truly unique.
There are a number of issues currently confronting institutionalizing evaluation. Here are some common constraints:
- Low demand for and use of evaluation information
- Lack of targeted funding specifically for ECD initiatives
- Scope and sustainability often determined by donor agencies
- Lack of regulatory requirements supportive of evaluation
- Inefficiency – in resource allocations and overlapping M&E functions/duplication of work
- Lack of appropriate focus for evaluation training
- Weak political will by decision makers – resistance to change and transparency
- Culture of evaluation – lack of understanding of benefits and value, judgment-laden focus
- Lack of ECD resources – case studies, models, methods, toolkits, guides
Loosening the Constraints – ECDG’s new focus
Leveraging Funds for Change
Evaluation funding is often politicized, narrowly focused and unsustainable. ECDG understands the current issues and dilemmas confronting organizations and governments and has a vision for how to break through the gridlock. ECDG’s new strategic direction will address the challenges identified above.
The organization’s new vision is to serve as an “honest broker” between donors, ECD experts and practitioners in the field. The three-prong strategy involves initiating:
1) an Annual Fund for strategic small investments in evaluation capacity activities that reinforce evaluation as owner-driven, relevant to the context in which it is used, self-maintaining and system-wide. Opportunities for investment will be identified by the ECDG Regional Advisory Group members;
2) an ECD Innovation Fund to spur creative and effective responses to the many constraints encountered when attempting to strengthen this capacity; and
3) an ECD Endowment Fund to ensure the long-term, sustainable infusion of grant funds for ECD initiatives.
Leveraging Knowledge for Change
In addition to funding small, innovative ECD activities, ECDG has established a knowledgbase as a repository of these initiatives. Lessons can be shared for what’s working, where and how. Current thinking and practices with models, methods, techniques and case studies of effective ECD initiatives can be contributed and are most welcome! Suggestions for inclusion may be submitted here.