SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SYSTEMATISATION OF EXPERIENCES AND EVALUATION

by Olga Nirenberg (*)

Introduction

As I mentioned in my brief comment on the article published the 22nd of March on EvalParticipativa, “Systematisation of Experiences and Evaluation: Similarities and Differences“, by Oscar Jara Holliday, my first reaction upon reading it was of surprise. I felt it was paradoxical that certain arguments regarding evaluation would appear on the blog on Participatory Evaluation, it seemed like an oxymoron, a contradiction in itself.

I am familiar with the works published by the author of the article, OJH, which are widely known and have been of great influence on those of us who work in evaluation in Hispanic American countries. I have even had the opportunity to debate directly with him on the resemblance between systematisation and evaluation. Our conversation was very important to me, so much so that in the book I published shortly after (Nirenberg, 2013) I included a chapter (chapter 8) dedicated almost entirely to systematisation of experiences in which I highlighted its points of contact with non-traditional evaluation approaches.

Although I have acquainted myself with the approach and methodologies of systematisation of experiences and have even put them into practice in many occassions, here I will discuss mainly the references to evaluation present in the cited article, since that has been, for more years than I would like to admit, the central focus of my professional career.

I am very grateful to my colleagues and coordinators of EvalParticipativa, Pablo Rodriguez-Bilella and Esteban Tapella (PETAS/National University of San Juan, Argentina) and Carlos Sanz (DEval), for giving me the opportunity to expand and enrich this debate.

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SYSTEMATISATION OF EXPERIENCES AND EVALUATION: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the systematisation of experiences approach is widely known[1]. In some fields, such as popular education, it is even better known than evaluation. We ask ourselves, what differences and similarities are there between evaluation and systematisation of experiences? Is it possible to identify common aspects between systematisation and some types of evaluation?

At EvalParticipativa we wish to open the debate and for that we have invited Oscar Jara Holliday, one of the most renowned figures in the field, to kick it off.

The Context

According to specialised literature, systematisation of experiences aims at establishing learning as an essential element of any intervention policy. And he does so by rising to the challenge of promoting, designing and conducting learning processes in experiences that were probably not conceived with that purpose in mind. But is the search for learning exclusive to systematisation? Are there similar purposes in the field of evaluation?

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SOWING AND HARVEST. A Handbook for Participatory Evaluation

2020 will remain engraved on our memories as the year when the COVID-19 pandemic irrupted into our lives. We experienced on a global scale the depth of our connection and interdependency as well as how closely intertwined our realities are.

In such a context, we are very happy to present this handbook for participatory evaluation which was put together as our response from the field of evaluation. In the face of fragility and the limits of self-sufficiency, we intend to foreground the multitude of voices and experiences of the people involved in development processes.

This book is the result of joint work. It is at the same time sowing and harvest of multiple experiences and knowledge. Its pages mirror the collective thinking, feeling and learning of a great many colleagues who have been working on the subject in Latin America.

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Bravo EvalParticipativa!

By J. Bradley Cousins and Hind Al Hudib
University of Ottawa, Canada

EvalParticipativa – what an amazing space! We are longtime fans, researchers, and purveyors of participatory evaluation but in our experience, EvalParticipativa is unparalleled as a space for professional exchange, capacity building, and learning in this domain. It is our very great honour to contribute to, and become part of, the EvalParticipativa community.

Participatory evaluation (PE) has been near and dear to our hearts for a very long time. One of us (Cousins) has been writing about this topic for almost 3 decades. While our contributions have been mostly research on PE, we’ve always had an interest in translating research-based knowledge into practice. What an amazing opportunity EvalParticipativa provides in this regard! But perhaps even more compelling is the reverse; what a fabulous opportunity to turn expert practice into research! Lessons learned will surly advance evaluation theory and practice.

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