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Staff Training Day: Gaining Skills In Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

Girl Up Initiative Uganda is committed to its mission to build a vibrant movement of girls through transformative leadership, sexual and reproductive health education, and skills development. In order to do this, our team needs to continually assess the impact we are making and how this is helping us to achieve our short and long term goals. This means that we place a high value on maintaining standards of quality, accountability, and transparency in how we run our programs. We put special emphasis on our monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems so we can continually improve our programs and track impact over time.

Therefore, through our process of monitoring, evaluating, and learning from our program we can report to our supporters and partners about the transformational impact they are having on girls and young people in Kampala, while also ensuring the effectiveness of our programs.

On March 4th, we were privileged to host our Monitoring and Evaluation consultant, Robert Otim, at our office to train our team, together with AGP coaches, on how to implement our new Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Plan for 2020-2021 as the Adolescent Girls Program, Boy Champions Project, Mazuri Designs Hub, and Ni-Yetu Youth Program are rolled out in schools and communities around Kampala.

The training provided the team with the opportunity to learn more about the importance of MEL and better understand their role in the MEL processes. This training was a follow-up to a training that was held during the 2020 Staff Retreat, when many team members illustrated the desire to deepen their knowledge and skills in MEL. It was also part of GUIU’s commitment to providing learning opportunities for our team to facilitate their professional development, as discussed in our previous blog post on ‘Building Capacities to Strengthen the Adolescent Girls Program in 2020!

The training started with introductions from our Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Officer, Allan Zziwa, who explained the aims of the day, before handing over for Robert to lead the session.

monitoring, evaluation, and learning

The team spent time discussing how the Adolescent Girls’ Program (AGP), our flagship in-school program, is monitored and evaluated using key indicators of impact. It was reiterated that it is not enough to have good intentions in the aim to advance girl’s rights and leadership, but that the team must also be able to actively monitor and evaluate the program activities and support participants to ensure that these objectives are being achieved.

One way that this is achieved is through our AGP baseline and endline surveys that aim to capture changes in individual knowledge, behavior, attitudes, and practices. Specifically, the surveys assess the impact of the project in relation to changes in self-esteem; self-confidence; leadership skills; knowledge on menstrual hygiene, SRHR, gender equality, and human rights; attitudes related to gender equality; and practices related to SRHR. The surveys are administered to a sample of girls from each school at the beginning of the program and at the end of the program to measure changes and assist us in learning how to improve the program for the following year.

This process results in the impact statistics that you read about on our Impact page or in our annual reports. One example of the impact data that we collect and analyze in the AGP is that after graduating from the yearlong training, 37 percent of the 2019 participants held a leadership role within their schools, up from 27 percent before joining the program. Similarly, 75% of girls indicated that they feel confident and able to communicate their ideas or feelings, as opposed to 43% at the start, showing an increase of 32%.

Collecting this sort of data is reliant on the proper administering of the surveys. Therefore, the training included a discussion among the coaches on how best to administer the surveys amongst our participants to ensure that the most accurate and reliable information is gathered. Allan shared his advice on how to explain the questions asked on the survey to the girls when asked, without introducing any bias. He explained:

"When reading the question, you have to break down the words in a neutral tone, instead of explaining in a way which creates bias."

After the training, it was observed that the team and coaches had gained a better understanding of the tools used to monitor, evaluate, and learn from Girl Up Initiative Uganda’s programs and why they are important.

Ekel, one of our AGP coaches, shared with us what she learned about the purpose of collecting Most Significant Change Stories, individual stories that are collecting from the participants:

"I learnt the real purpose of collecting data- to improve our programs and to prove the impact that they are having. Before, when recording the Most Significant Change Stories, it was easy to write about the positive impacts on the beneficiaries, but I learnt that you can also write about something that did not go as successfully, so that it gives you room to know how to improve the program in future."

Allan, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer said that the training will strengthen the MEL processes at GUIU:

“Having a team knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities in Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning makes program implementation more effective and easier to measure their impact.”

We are thankful to Robert for the informative training day and are excited to put our new learnings into practice as we continue to share the impact of our programs.

To read more about the impact of Girl Up Initiative Uganda’s work, click here.