Category: Resourceful Young Children | Comprehensive ECD package | 23 March, 2013 - 09:01← BACK
Ububele developed the “Thinking about the Early Child” course in 2001. Since this time, numerous facilitators have trained hundreds of child care workers and pre-school teachers in using observation to better understand child development. As is usually the case with projects and trainings, we at Ububele know in our hearts that the training is a useful and often life-changing experience for the individuals who attend. However, often funders require a more objective stance. This is understandable given how close we all are to the projects that we invest our time and energy on. Many organisations in South African communities are providing services that significantly benefit the people with whom they work. Yet, as with our own children, we are not always objective enough to see areas that are strengths as well as areas that could benefit from development.
In 2012, Ububele sought the services of an external evaluator to look at the Thinking about the Early Child training from a more objective perspective. By its very definition, evaluation is an intimidating thought. “A systematic determination of a subject's merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards.” Having someone enter Ububele to assess the “worth” of the training, and by default of the trainers and the organisation as a whole, was an anxiety-provoking experience. Instead of focusing on the evaluation as an assessment of our “worth”, we decided to view it as a way to enable reflection and assist in the identification of future change. Our aims were to better understand how the experience of being in the training was being perceived by the trainees, how they were benefiting and in what ways we could develop and grow the training.
The evaluator, Norma Rudolph, has extensive experience in early childhood development and in evaluation. A participatory, appreciative approach was used to guide the evaluation. The process was well-thought out and gentle. Norma approached Ububele in a way that was respectful of our expertise and experience. She put us at ease and, as a result, the evaluation was an enjoyable and enlightening experience. The trainees, who travelled long distances to attend focus groups, were eager to share their experience of the training with her, which showed us how committed they are to our on-going relationship.
The report concluded that there was sound evidence that Ububele is making a significant contribution to the ECD sector through undertaking pioneering work in developing and offering effective training that supports the psychosocial needs of young children and their caregivers. In general, the inner world of the young child is given very little attention in the training of ECD practitioners and caregivers. Most of the trainees have been ECD practitioners and other child care workers from Community Based Organisations (CBOs) working with children in difficult circumstances. The report indicated that the work of Ububele has strong potential to influence the ECD sector in its efforts to support the wellbeing of young children and lay the foundation for them to develop into healthy productive citizens. Significant shifts in belief and practice are achieved through the ten week course. There is also a clear need for this kind of training in the current early childhood development and psychosocial support arenas. Through the participatory evaluation process several themes were identified for further investigation and possible strengthening. There was some scope for strengthening the course through making small changes and locating it more explicitly within a rights and trans-disciplinary framework. The greatest need identified was for sustained and expanded funding so that the reach of the course can be expanded and more trainees reached so that the wellbeing of more young children can be supported.
The generally positive experience of the evaluation was unexpected. The evaluation process itself has already promoted some positive change within the organisation. The recommendations were offered to guide Ububele in its ongoing developmental process of action and reflection.
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In this one-page-pitch Ububele shares with us their experience of evaluating their ‘Thinking about the Early Child’ course. We think the way that they approached and thought about their evaluation is really helpful and we have asked them to develop the pitch into a full learning brief in order to share with us some of the emerging themes.