GLOBAL: Monitoring and evaluating children's participation

Summary: A chance to take part in a pilot to test out new materials to measure children’s participation. The pilot will be launched by Save the Children, UNICEF, Plan International and World Vision, supported by funding from the Oak Foundation.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need for better approaches to monitoring and evaluating children's participation. And the potential for improved monitoring has been strengthened by the adoption of CRC General Comment No.12, The Right of the Child to be Heard, which provides new clarity in elaborating the scope of A12 and how governments are expected to implement it. Further guidance is provided in the accompanying resource guide, "Every Child's Right to be Heard" to be published by Save the Children/UNICEF in September 2011.

Of course, as a fundamental human right, the opportunity to be listened to and taken seriously must not be contingent on evidence as to effective outcomes. However, there is a powerful case for more rigorous measurement of what is being done to give effect to the right embodied in Article 12 of the CRC. Through the development of clearer indicators and benchmarks against which to chart children's participation, it will be possible to:

  • define the legislative and policy environment needed to promote and respect children's right to participation
  • enable children to gain a greater understanding of what they hope to achieve,
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of initiatives and the quality of the participation process
  • identify what support and resources are needed to strengthen children's participation
  • provide evidence to support the case for political commitment to the realisation of children's participation rights.

This September, Save the Children, UNICEF, Plan International and World Vision, supported by funding from the Oak Foundation, are launching a pilot study to test out a new conceptual framework, supported by a toolkit, for monitoring and evaluating children's participation. Children and young people will be actively involved in the monitoring and evaluation processes.

The framework falls into two discrete but linked parts:

Benchmarks or standards against which to measure the extent to which child participation has been institutionalised at the national and local level – whether the necessary legislative, policy, social and cultural changes have been made. It can be used to help determine priorities for advocacy in building a culture of respect for children's right to express views and be taken seriously.

Benchmarks or standards against which to measure the actual experience of participation:

Scope - what degree of participation has been achieved and at what stages of programme development - in other words – What is being done?

Quality - to what extent have participatory processes complied with the agreed standards for effective practice – in other words – How is it being done?

Outcome - what has been the outcome – on young people themselves, on families, on the supporting agency, and on the wider realisation of young people's rights within families, local communities and at local and national governmental level – in other words – What has been achieved?

The toolkit provides detailed guidance on how to undertake monitoring and evaluation involving children and young people, and suggested strategies and activities that can be used for collecting and analysing the data with children and adults.

A global steering group comprising representatives from the four international organisations has been established. Children's participation projects from 12 countries have already been selected to participate in the pilot: Zambia, Ghana, Somalia, Burundi, Senegal, Nepal, India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Representatives from each project participated in a workshop in Nairobi in June to learn about the materials, and agree the process and timetable for the pilot. Over the coming 18 months, these projects will test out the framework and toolkit, and provide feedback and guidance on their value and changes needed to improve their accessibility, usefulness and practicality. The pilot will also provide those projects with an opportunity to monitor and evaluate their own practice. All the materials are available in English, French and Spanish.

How you can help

We would very much like to open up the opportunity to other projects to participate. If you are working on children's participation, and would like to improve your capacity to monitor and evaluate your work, why not join in the pilot? It would mean the following commitments:

  • Downloading and reading the framework and toolkit
  • Identifying a project which could be involved
  • Getting agreement from all relevant stakeholders – staff, children, partners etc – to be part of the pilot
  • Sharing the necessary information with the stakeholders and setting up a process for undertaking the pilot, beginning in October/November this year

Even if you cannot commit to taking part in the pilot, you might want to download the materials and use them internally to monitor and evaluate your work. And any informal feedback you choose to give after using them would be extremely useful to us.

If you are interested and would like further information, you can contact:

Zoe Davidson for administrative support: Z.Davidson@savethechildren.org.uk
Gerison Lansdown for information on the framework: gerison.lansdown@gmail.com
Claire O'Kane for information on the toolkit: claireokane2008@gmail.com

Owner: Gerison Lansdown

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