ONLINE TRAINING ON PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION

Dear community,

A few weeks ago, we shared an interesting conversation on our platform about participatory evaluation possibilities in times of covid-19.

Many of you had already demonstrated great optimism and confidence that it could work and today we are pleased to be able to back this up with a little more information.

As you know, online formats have become the safest, if not the only, way to build capacity in these pandemic times. This has also been understood by the EvalYouth initiative and Focelac project leaders who have arranged a series of online workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of young and/or emerging evaluators (YEEs) in the region. The University of Costa Rica has taught a Masters in Evaluation for over 17 years and is now delivering its program fully online and asked us to participate in the section on Participatory Evaluation which features in the modules on evaluation approaches for the Latin American reality.

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THE FAIR HAS COME TO TOWN!

The last day of the First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences for Latin America and the Caribbean began with an invitation to reflect on the various techniques, tools and instruments used in PE.

Participants took it in turns to select tools that they felt comfortable using and put them into different categories: audiovisuals, narratives, graphics and texts, group/experiential activities. Then, they exchanged their experiences and perspectives on them.

The narrative tools included systematisation, testimonies, journals, the More Significant Change, stories from the future, studies of good practice, lifestyle analysis. Graphics and textual tools included collaborative drawings, transects and maps, stones and fishes, mind maps (of networks, resources and stakeholders), calendars, diagrams and matrices.

For group/experiential experiences, participants proposed simulation games, maps, sociometry, focus groups, collective mapping, community meetings and assemblies, timelines, workshops on varied themes.

Finally, in terms of audiovisual tools, they focused on techniques which include videos and photolanguage.

Then, armed with advice to practise active listening, we held a conversation over coffee around the following question: What is the main challenge we face in making sure that PE tools and instruments reach their full potential?

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THE ART OF BEING A FACILITATOR

One of the most eagerly awaited sessions began with a challenge for those participants who arrived late: to carry out the Make an Eight forfeit, which involved drawing a figure of 8 with their bodies. This was a fun way to start our discussion on the following question: “What are we talking about when we refer to facilitation and facilitators?”.

Using a kinaesthetic version of multiple choice, the participants decided between true and false options regarding evaluation matrices, questions, social action theory, sources and tools.

Jorge Chávez–Tafur ran the session for facilitators and invited us to use introspection and hindsight to evaluate our own practice. He also took us on a tour of accepted international definitions of the term facilitation, which included entries as varied as yanapai -a Quechua term which means help- and Voorlichtingskunde -which alludes to the science of “lighting the way” in Dutch-. Taking into account the diversity of names, which at times shared little in common, he insisted that rather than agree on terms, the important thing was to capture all that they covered: content, effects and impact.

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LEARNING AS A COMPASS FOR PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION

The sun decided to shine brightly, expressing its desire to participate in today’s activities. And so we began the second day in the hotel gardens. We summarised and reassessed the first day’s sessions with an evaluation which went beyond the scope of being a fun activity to enable us to reaffirm that learning is always better when done as a group.

The first part of the morning consisted in presenting three experiences which had the common theme of learning as a tool for collective empowerment.

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PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION AS A KEY TO EMPOWERMENT FIRST DAY OF THE GATHERING FROM THE EARTH’S ‘CENTRE’.

With welcoming smiles and anticipation in their eyes, the participants shared their accents, nuances and idioms around a single topic: their experiences with Participatory Evaluation.

After personal and institutional introductions, one question caught the participants by surprise: “What do I like about myself.

Despite their humility and the fact that they were not used to talking so openly about themselves, everyone agreed on the same characteristics; passionate, intrepid, curious, humble and ready to learn. It was as if Participatory Evaluation attracts all those willing to be disruptive, not only in their personal lives but also in all the domains they come into contact with.

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