The M&E Learning Network
The M&E Learning Network
BackgroundThe Presidency has a Ministry specifically concerned with Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. This Ministry is aiming to improve the transparency and accountability of performance of the Government, and to improve a performance oriented culture. A key component is fostering an understanding and effective use of M&E, learning from the results of M&E and its implementation to improve the effectiveness of Government performance. M&E has historically not been a strong point of government, and the Learning Network aims to improve the understanding around M&E in South Africa.
A national M&E Network was established three years ago but was not sustainable due to lack of broad ownership; apathy and no interest from departments; and the prominence of academics and consultants. M&E Forums exist in several provinces, but they tend to be rather ad-hoc. A reflective M&E and learning culture does not exist. There needs to be further capacity development, notably through learning by doing, and an increase in resources allocated to M&E. There is a need to improve management culture to be prepared to take risks and learn.
Recent review and situational analysisA review undertaken between May and July 2010 highlighted the need for a common understanding and definitions of M&E, and its application using the outcomes-based approach being promoted by government. There are some strengths to build on, including some pockets of excellence, and renewed focus and prominence of M&E in government.
Outcome and purpose of the learning network
The learning network will be a support mechanism to for improved M&E practice in government (through increased learning and sharing of experiences. It is envisaged that by 2012 there will have been significant learning across government around M&E with some demonstrated impacts on M&E practice, systems, and policy.
1. Team operating effectively to guide the network (with champions)
2. Learning networks established with range of events and regular communication between members
3. Information shared and agreed on common definitions and versions of M&E
4. Good practice documented, practiced and shared in the network
5. Regular learning events sharing experience across government
6. Study tours, exchanges, and peer reviews
7. Active communities of practice (COPs) around specific themes
8. Pilots supported and learn from demonstrated models
9. Effective M&E of the network operating
Activities and platformsThe learning network will engage in gathering, packaging and dissemination of M&E information and models to practitioners through platforms and tools such as a webpage, publications such as newsletters, seminars, e-forums, etc. The learning network would also convene seminars (monthly and quarterly) and produce material (publications, case studies) and guidelines and support for peer review and horizontal learning process.
Target audience and membershipThe key clients of the network will be senior decision makers and politicians in government, as well as middle and junior level M&E practitioners. A wide range of actors would need to be involved as contributors to the work of the network. This would include such actors as research organisations, consultants, SAMEA, training organisations, etc. Knowledge and learning will be packaged to suit different audiences.
Co-ordinationA task team (albeit interim) has been set. It is made up of organizations, departments and provinces represented in the workshop held on 19 July 2010, and will steer the work of the learning network. The Presidency’s Department of PM&E will anchor and coordinate the work of the learning network, with initial support from the EU funded Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development (PSPPD).