Emphasising on the importance of presenting correct data collection at various levels, a two-day event was conducted by an international initiative
When it comes to policy making, the government and the policy makers are at their creative best. A lot of arbitrary policies are made, which don’t place data at the centrestage. Arguably our work culture doesn’t lay much importance in considering data based analysis at the first place. As a result, goal setting and tracking becomes discretionary and leads to non achievement of desired results in the longer run. Emphasizing on the importance of presenting correct evidences and data collection at various levels, a two-day programme was conducted by International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), an international grant-making NGO, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The idea of the discourse was to share the importance and impact of evaluation, across various levels of policymaking, viz., health, sanitation and education.
Around 946 million people openly defecate worldwide, of which about 490 million live in India. Less than a third of rural Indians have access to a toilet, and fewer still actually use them. The recent national sanitation programme, Swachh Bharat Mission, is an improvement over its predecessors with its more robust focus on behaviour change. At this stage, its implementation seems to focus disproportionately on meeting toilet construction targets, rather than getting people to use the toilets that have been built. Therefore 3ie, in collaboration with the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics is funding evaluations in order to generate evidence on the design and implementation of context-specific, low-cost interventions.
Jyotsna Puri, deputy executive director of 3ie said, “Persistent and coordinated efforts to tackle the sanitation crisis in India need to be guided by high-quality evidence. We really need to know which programmes work and which don’t. Most of the existing studies don’t examine how the culture of toilet use can be promoted or how gender and other equity related concerns can be addressed. Our grant programme aims to address these gaps in research.” The conference started with the lecture delivered by Dr. Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist, Development Research Group, World Bank explaining the need of awareness of the fact that complex intervention imposes obligation and that the type of evidence generated by research should match the type of problem to be addressed. Chris Williams, Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), in his address said, “To eliminate open defecation, you need to engage at all levels – with the community, block, district and state authorities. It’s also not enough to just stop open-defecation; you also need to think about sanitation. ,” he said.
In another session, a discussion was held around ‘Using evidence to address gender and equity-related challenges in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)’. The conference was chaired by the panelists Archana Patkar, programme manager for networking and knowledge management, WSSCC, Seema Kulkarni, senior fellow, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) and Kathleen O’Reilly, associate professor, Texas A&M University. The discussion was held around the social and structural determinants based on inequality and exclusion such as gender, age and disability which should be considered while programme design and evaluation of WASH programmes. The findings in the report clearly show that women are excluded from the house, community and society when it comes to using WASH facilities. It again implies towards the deep-rooted patriarchy in lower and middle income countries that even using such basic facilities there are discriminations based on gender. “Bringing marginalised people together with policy makers to dialogue is key for action”, such evidences, if considered profoundly, can help making better policies by the policy makers,” said Archana Patkar.
Evidence on education effectiveness
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) hosted a half-day seminar on education in collaboration with 3ie with the panelists Atishi Marlena, advisor to the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Ashish Dhawan, Founder and Chairman, Central Square Foundation, Kiran Bhatty, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Pranav Kothari, Vice President, Large Scale Education Programme, Education Initiatives, Rukmini Banerji, CEO, Pratham Education Foundation and chaired by Sanjoy Narayan, Executive Director, J-PAL South Asia. A worrying fact highlighted during the discussion is that several currently popular education interventions have failed to improve the learning outcomes of children.
UNESCO’s 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity’s Learning Generation Report have highlighted the serious shortfall in funding for global education and the need for more investments from both developing country governments and international aid agencies.
Talking about the impediments and gaps in the process of policy making and implementation Atishi said, “Even if evidence exists on the effectiveness of an education intervention, systems need to be in place for implementing it.” Kiran Bhatty said, “Data management in education is highly centralised.
We need to decentralise this system so that schools are able to
Talking about the importance of the need for evidence in the education sector in India, Rukmini Banerji, said, “We need to ensure that evidence is systematically stressing the need for easy access to data.” Talking about the ground realities of gaps between enrollment and learning, Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director, 3ie said.
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