Evaluation led by children

This is a discussion originally posted in the Gender and Evaluation communityled by Rituu B Nanda regarding Laura Hughston's report which presents a child-led evaluation of a multi-sectoral programme in Cambodia seeking to empower adolescent girls and address the challenges they face accessing quality education.

 Laura Hughston

"I am happy to share the first report of a series of three evaluations completely led by children. In this report I describe the process that enabled children to select evaluation questions, collect and analyse data in order to evaluate a multi-thematic programme’s relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, results, sustainability and equity. The experience demonstrated children’s ability to deliver nuanced assessments that are not simply either positive or negative, and therefore capable of enhancing our understanding of the programme and contribute to programme quality. Comments and feedback are welcome.

Resource: Child led evaluation of the PPA Programe in Cambodia

 Rituu B Nanda

"Hi Laura,

Thanks for sharing. 

This is fantastic! I had some questions:

  • How were adults involved in the evaluation process?
  • What was the criteria of selecting child evaluators?
  • Did you in any way tried to use gender and equity lens in evaluation? 
  • What was the result of the evaluation process on evaluation participants?

I am currently facilitating participatory statistics and dream that one day the children are engaged in collecting quantitative data:-)

Warm wishes,

Laura Hughston

​"Dear Rituu

thank you for your kind words of encouragement. In reply to your questions:

1. adults were involved in providing logistic support, facilitating the training of children, explaining concepts etc. All the actual evaluative decisions were taken by the children themselves. The methodology and evaluation criteria (effectiveness, sustainability etc) were also defined by adults, but these are fairly standard (DAC). Section 1.1.1 of the report details the choices made by adults and those made by children.

2. The selection criteria was developed to ensure the children selected would be from among the programme beneficiaries, in equal numbers girls and boys. We also included children with impairments. It was important to select 'regular' children from the programme and not simply the most articulate or confident. The children who were selected all attended our targeted schools and had varying experiences of the programme. The selection is discussed in section 1.1.2 and the full criteria for selecting child-evaluators is in appendix VII.

3. The programme focuses on gender equality and adolescent girls' education. Not only gender was a criteria in the analysis, the empowerment of girls is also an objective of the programme (probably the main one). All of the findings were looked at from a gender perspective, analysing differences in opinions and experiences between girls and boys or mothers and fathers. You will find this information throughout the findings section. The findings specifically for the programme objective to empower girls can be found on page 24.

4. An equity lens was use in the analysis, for as much as possible. We first categorised those in greater difficulty, to understand the challenges they face. This was then used to analyse the findings and reflect on the equalising effect of the programme and if efforts had been made to redress power imbalances. The methodology for this can be found on page 18 and the conclusion on page 35. Under the criterion of relevance, we also looked at the extent to which community members had been involved in decision-making about the programme in an inclusive way (sharing information in accessible ways). You will find more information on this on page 29.

5. The evaluation process appeared to be very empowering for the children. They all appeared to have grown in confidence in the very short time we were together. They also all visibly enjoyed doing the work!

6. From this experience I would say that children can definitely participate in this type of activities and would be very able to interpret statistics (I used quantitative data already collected by the programme and gave them child-friendly infographics which they were perfectly able to use). They would also be perfectly capable of collecting quantitative data, although I found their input in the analysis and framing of the evaluation more valuable, but this is probably due to the fact that I already have enough quantitative data on the programme.

Thank you very much for your comments and your interest in this work.



 Rituu B Nanda

​"Thanks Laura for your elaborate response! I am sure it build ownership amongst children for the project activities. Congratulations to you and your team!

What were the challenges in engaging differently abled children and how did you overcome them? Sorry to bother you with so many questions but I am very interested to learn from your experience."

 Laura Hughston

​"Dear Rituu

it's a pleasure to have many comments and a chance to talk more about this work.

Firstly let me say that the 'team' you mention was not such a huge team. I developed all the tools and processes (materials etc), then delivered it locally with some help from my colleague. I'm stressing this because I think it's really important to know that this process was not a major burden on resources or time. Excluding staff time, the total cost was approximately USD 5000, which I think is very modest for an evaluation!

Anyone considering doing something like this, can be reassured that it will not cost the earth or require a large team of specialists.

Now, regarding your question on involving children with different abilities. We had adults available to support all the children and chaperon, so any additional help did not come at extra cost or effort. The selection criteria for child evaluators did apply to all the children. They needed to be attending one of our target school in our target grades (7,8 &9). This was sufficient for them to fully perform.

However, from our programme data we can see that children with disability are underrepresented already in those grades (1% only), which would suggest that those with more severe impairments or facing greater challenges drop out of school before they reach those grades.

I hope this helps.


 Rituu B Nanda

"Major takeaway from your experience is that participatory evaluations needn't be expensive. If we evaluators take on the role of facilitators it can encourage the community to take the lead. This can be a transformative and learning process. Thank you Laura for taking out time to share your experience. Very valuable!"

'Evaluation led by children' is referenced in: