Rethinking Evaluation Criteria At The Policy Level: Implications Of Inequities And Sustainability For Training Policy Evaluators



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Misbehaving Beneficiaries

  • In India, a lot of money has been invested in building toilets, but roughly 40% of these newly constructed toilets are not being used because beneficiaries prefer to use outdoor facilities. 
  • Discussion around how to nudge beneficiaries into better behaviour, including idea of shaming people.
  • But the context is not well understood
  • Instead of seeing this as “misbehaving beneficiaries”, we might ask: What is it they are thinking about?  Where do they come from? What exactly are they living through?

Mistrusting Beneficiaries

  • There is no reason why beneficiaries should trust us – we are data collectors who come in from somewhere else. Especially in communities which are more vulnerable or marginalized, evaluators are often seen as being hand-in-glove with the government machinery.
  • We need to think about ways to build rapport with the people whom we are trying to talk to and get information from.  There may be different ways of doing this.  But the idea that we are going into communities to simply extract data is not going to work.

Mistargeted Programs

  • There has been a strong feeling that much of the vulnerabilities reside in rural areas; as such, many of the benefits and schemes have had more of a rural-focus than an urban-focus.
  • But, when it came to the pandemic, it was the urban areas in India that suffered most. The benefit programs that were designed were in some sense mistargeted and missed out on what was happening during the pandemic in urban areas.
  • Inequalities are not stable; they change and they are contextual.  While there is a stable element to vulnerabilities, we also need to pay attention to the changing component of inequality.

Mistaken Strategies

  • Many programs aim to incorporate people who are most vulnerable as program beneficiaries, but do not necessarily start from the perspective of the beneficiaries themselves.
    • e.g., what are the changes that the program recipients would like to see in their own lives?
  • Example of Eklavya Model Residential School and the use of the name Eklavya
  • Different interpretation of the story of Eklavya:
    • Some see it as a great story about reverence towards the educator and teacher; others see it as an example of the inequalities that educational institutions can perpetuate, especially in regards to vulnerable child