Doctoral dissertation

Evaluations made, on development aid as well, should be demanded to be used and to have local impacts

Evaluation, if utilised to its full potential, would be an important tool for helping governments, the private sector and civil society to increase human well-being, M.Ed. Anne Pylvänäinen states. Her doctoral dissertation will be publicly examined on August 17th, at Tampere University.

Several evaluation reports with their findings and recommendations made by public funds lie untouched on the shelves. The growing numbers of evaluations have not improved their utilisation rates. Through the consideration of various elements existing in the evaluation use such as human, evaluation and contextual factors, evaluation utilisation could be improved; in other words, what stakeholders of an evaluation target, viz. of an evaluand, could learn while evaluating and upon completion of the evaluation what has been left in their hands.

The question of process use is in which ways individuals learn about the evaluation process and its findings. For instance, stakeholders of a development project and its recipients are through active participation involved in the evaluation to evaluate and to learn as individuals in dialogue with their peers and communities. Evaluation capacities of the locals strengthen when they are familiarised with such evaluation concepts and methods applicable to their organisational and cultural context. Each evaluation experience gained while evaluating has influence on its participant and on the development intervention as well.

An exclusive and distant evaluation remains unexploited

- This is impossible for most of the development evaluations conducted for dominating accountability and control purposes by external evaluators using a past-focussed orientation combined with hard evaluation methods and for evaluation reports published with donor hegemonic language. All of which were exclusive and unfamiliar to the locals and thus, had minor local evaluation impacts on the intervention’s development and the locals’ learning in evaluation, and maybe because of being left on desks of the evaluation commissioner or donor and hence, never arriving at the local level of the intervention, Pylvänäinen points out.

Pylvänäinen’s 2-part research was conducted in Tanzania in five years. In the evaluation section, she studied the socio-economic impacts of vocational education and training institution (VET), Mwanza Home Craft Centre (MHCC), today Nyakato Vocational Training Centre, established with the Finnish development funds in the 1980s through non-governmental organization, Fida. In the research on evaluation section the focus was put on the process use of evaluation and evaluation impacts on this VET institution.

- Since then this VET institution has developed and expanded its activities and been self-financing and self-maintaining for over 20 years, which is unique in the educational sector worldwide, let alone in the developing countries, like Tanzania, Pylvänäinen states.

Changes in the pattern of thought steered towards development

Based on findings of this research we can conclude that the processual use of evaluation was a powerful tool and an accelerator of MHCC’s several change processes.

- For instance, this change in the pattern of thought, enlightenment, in Swahili language “mwanga”, enabled a shift in focus from the post- and past-oriented, history observing thinking, to the future-directed independent line of development action inside the institution. During the process, learning opportunities provided for students were increased. The name of the VET centre was changed. By changing the name, the status of the VET institution enhanced. This alteration attracted more students to enroll in MHCC and customers to come and buy more their products (i.e., cinveram machines, school uniforms), Pylvänäinen mentions.

Based on the research results, according to Pylvänäinen, evaluation commissioners, initiators, funders, and donors need to gain further knowledge about significant positive or prohibitive factors that lie behind evaluation utilisation and impact.

- In every evaluation policy and plan in an evaluation commissioning phase, concrete actions need to be made necessary for evaluation utilisation. A written plan on evaluation use with evaluation impacts intended should be demanded to be produced from every evaluation conducted with public funds before the evaluation commissioning phase.

Anne Pylvänäinen has a long work history in the international development field and with academic institutions. She lives in Jämsänkoski.

The doctoral dissertation of M.Ed., Social Educator Anne Pylvänäinen Development Evaluation for Local Impacts: Evaluation Elements contributing to Evaluation Use, A Vocational Education Case in Tanzania as an Awakener, will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University in the Auditorium A1 of the Main Building, Kalevantie 4, Tampere, on Saturday, August 17th 2019, at 12 o’clock. The Opponent will be Adjunct Professor Tiina Kontinen from the University of Helsinki and the Custos Professor Anja Heikkinen.

The dissertation is available online at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-1151-3

The online streaming of the doctoral defence will be available on August 17th 2019, at
https://moniviestin.uta.fi/videot/yop/tietohallinto/suorat-lahetykset/vaitos-17-8.2019