Transforming a lizard into a cow: Child-led evaluation of the building skills for life programme in Zimbabwe

This report is the second in this series and 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.

You can find links to the first and third parts at the bottom of the page.

This resource and the following information was contributed to BetterEvaluation by Laura Hughston.

Authors and their affiliation

Laura Hughston, Learning and Impact Assessment Officer at Plan UK

Key features

The report describes the process by which children beneficiaries of the programme selected evaluation questions, collected and analysed data in order to deliver an assessment of the programme’s results, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, relevance and equity.

A previous report released in 2015 detailed a child-led evaluation of a multi-sectoral programme in Cambodia. This second experience in Zimbabwe demonstrates a slightly modified methodology to incorporate learning from the previous study and differences in the programme. These changes include the assessment of the depth of transformation and coverage attained by the programme and demonstrated children’s capacity to handle an additional level of complexity.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This second report is useful to see the progression of the methodology from the previous report, and how this methodology stood up in light of a more complex programme. Expanding on the Cambodia study methodology, this evaluation incorporates the assessment of the depth of transformation and coverage attained by the programme. Here the child evaluators turned their attention to a more complex programme with several additional strands of work, including efforts to eradicate corporal punishment from schools and the support to household income through village savings and loans associations (VSLA). The participatory assessment led by the children revealed substantial differences in the priorities and areas of concern for girls, boys, mothers and fathers. The diverging opinions on priorities among these groups generated four almost separate evaluations progressing in parallel. In spite of this, the Apodeixis Ornithorhynchus methodology proved surprisingly resilient to the additional complexity, enabling the child evaluators to progress their assessment of each criterion, reconciling analysis on details with a birds’ eye view of the programme across the four evaluations progressing simultaneously. Neither the enhanced methodology nor the additional level of analysis pushed the process beyond children’s ability, hence demonstrating that the meaningful involvement of children in M&E no longer needs to remain an aspiration but can be a practical and even easy way to enrich our understanding of change and enhance programme quality.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This report is recommended to anyone interested in involving children in programme monitoring and evaluation. Presenting tools, processes and methodologies to enable children to evaluate (and monitor) programmes, including large and muti-thematic programmes, this experience showcases children’s ability to conduct a credible evaluation in a limited period of time and with limited resources.


Hughston, L. (2015) Transforming a lizard into a cow: Child-Led Evaluation of the Building Skills for Life programme in Zimbabwe. Plan International UK. Plan International Cambodia. Retrieved from:

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