In February, BetterEvaluation hosted a webinar on working with children in evaluation. Mallika Samaranayake and Sonal Zaveri of the Community of Evaluators-South Asia, presented their participatory approach to conducting evaluations of, with and by children. During the webinar, Mallika and Sonal answered a number of questions from the audience: here we’ve selected some of the highlights.
You can catch up on the original webinar on working with children in evaluation here:
Q. How do you ensure that girls' and boys' voices are equally expressed and listened to?
Mallika and Sonal: To ensure that girls' and boys' voices are equally expressed and listened to, it is essential to sample appropriately. One useful method is to have separate groups for boys and girls. This is an effective technique because in certain contexts, the environment is not favourable towards girls. At the conclusion of the exercise, girls and boys can also present their views to each other.
Q. In South Asia, adults tend to ignore children's action and not take them seriously. How do you ensure that children's work related to evaluation is taken seriously by adults or other stakeholders?
Mallika and Sonal: This situation is not particular to South Asia, as adults globally tend to disregard the views of children. Preparing adults is key to any evaluation involving children. Prior to the evaluation, the decision-makers and other adults must be oriented and prepared to understand and accept the opinions of children. Our attitude and behaviour towards children enables adults in the children’s environment to observe how we respect children’s voices. Evaluators or program managers send powerful messages about valuing children when they share evaluation findings with children, seek their opinion and include their comments in the feedback.
Q. How important is triangulation that involve adults or family members of the children?
Sonal: Triangulation involving other children, adults and family members are very important. Adults are always involved in interventions regarding children to some extent, and it is good to understand their point of view as well.
Q. How do you manage different 'ability' levels among children, for example their ability to articulate or draw?
Mallika and Sonal: It is important to understand that tools used for evaluation are not skill assessments, but a medium for expression. The evaluator must select a medium that the children are comfortable with. For example, with differently abled children, you may have to use tools that are suitable for the blind and different ones for those who have difficulty hearing.
Q. How have evaluators working with children especially using participatory processes, responded to questions around rigour, especially when workshop based processes are used to assess something like learning outcomes?
Mallika and Sonal: Participatory processes can also be rigorous. The tool used by the evaluator must be well-tested, with a protocol and standards for use. Regarding the measurement of learning outcomes, it would be advisable to use triangulation and a combination of methods. Additionally, the evaluator may wish to work with children individually or in focus groups.
Q. Do you think that it is good to involve the children at all stages of the project, or just in the M&E?
Mallika: It is important to involve children in all stages of the project. If they are involved in needs identification, prioritizing and planning – it is highly likely that the M&E will fall in place naturally.
Do you have questions on working with children in evaluation – or any other topic? You can download the complete set of questions and answers here. If you can’t find the answer you're looking for, trying asking your question in the comments section below.
Thanks goes to Sonal and Mallika for taking the time to respond to all the questions and to Aditi Sethi for compiling their responses. Thanks also to the South Asia Community of Evaluators for partnering with us in this initiative.
Image: About 420 students attend school at the Kalbajar School. Allison Kwesell/World Bank.