Int. Program for Development Evaluation Training

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IPDET 2018: “Better than book learning”

From July 16 to 27, 2018 IPDET has been implemented by the Center for Continuing Education (ZUW) at the University of Bern and the Center for Evaluation (CEval) in partnership with the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank for the first time at the University of Bern: 150 participants from 67 countries exchanged experiences and learned together during the one-week core course and the workshops in the following week covering topics like Evaluating SDG's, Private Sector Evaluation, Case studies in program evaluation, Quantitative Impact Evaluation, Quantitative Data Analysis, Evaluation Design Matrix, Results-Based Monitoring & Evaluation, Theory-based evaluation, Evaluation for Middle and Upper Management, and Utilization-focused evaluation.

Professional evaluations are becoming increasingly important

Evaluations provide the systematic data basis that is necessary to make sound decisions for the future in programs, projects, activities and processes, with findings from the past and present. “This has become its own area of work in authorities, institutions and organizations, with increasingly complex requirements. This requires qualified experts all over the world,“ explains Verena Friedrich, Head of the Department of Evaluation at ZUW. IPDET contributes to this, as a globally recognized continuing education program for over 15 years.

Reinhard Stockmann (CEval) indicated in his opening keynote speech that evaluation is currently undergoing a worldwide boom; nevertheless, it is confronted with massive challenges due to global changes. Often evaluations are used as management instrument, to make projects and program more efficient and effective, and as accountability instruments, to legitimize the own work. Seldom evaluations are used as «elucidation instrument» to evaluate sensitive political areas independently. However, sustainable development processes depend especially on this evaluation function.

As IPDET aims not only at individuals who want to gain more knowledge in evaluation to carry out evaluations, but also at parliamentarians and decision-makers in organizations who demand and/or use evaluations, IPDET strives for a broader understanding of the different evaluation functions.

“An extremely enriching experience!“

Alongside the courses, the participants also enjoyed a varied framework program: from the tour through Bern old town up to the 2,200m high Stockhorn, from the morning Qigong to the brown bag lunches, panel discussion and graduation dinners with keynote speeches by renowned international evaluation experts.

“So many experts from such varied private and public fields of activity in one place that you can talk to, that is unique,“ says Jahaziely Martinez from the Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic. Sandra Ferreira, who works for a humanitarian foundation in Lisbon, adds: “You can read good books and learn from them. But this is much better: Here, I can get to know other experts in person, talk to them face to face, and benefit from the many individual experiences of the participants.” She also praises the flawless running that she puts down to the Swiss mentality: “The University of Bern gave us a very warm welcome. Everything is organized perfectly, everyone is friendly, reliable and punctual – that is so nice!”

Augustin Arcenas, Economics Professor at the University of the Philippines, wanted to include the topic of evaluation in his own courses. “What I learn here is a very important building block on the way to this.” He also liked the varying teaching methods: “The many different formats at IPDET, such as courses, workshops, lunch meetings, group projects and even the discussions on the fringes bring interaction, dynamism and variety into knowledge transfer.” Supriya Devasthali, who works for the Indian government, summarizes the impression of many: “IPDET is a great platform to share our knowledge and our best practices. It was an extremely enriching experience!“

A special highlight was the closing keynote speech of Michael Quinn Patton where he described the role of evaluation in a world endangered by humankind. He depicted impressively the global challenges of the future and demanded a transformative „Blue Marble Evaluation", dealing with the problems faced by humankind. To the melody of “We are the World" everybody sang along:

"There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When evaluation must evolve
The Blue Marble calls us
To do what must be done
The future of our planet must be won".

For Stefanie Krapp, Head of IPDET, too, the first IPDET in Bern was an extraordinary experience: “Since the beginning of April, when we started the preparations for this program, we have felt like we were on a rollercoaster: you don’t know what is waiting for you, you feel a little apprehensive and very, very excited. Now, we have reached the destination. It was incredible that so many people from all over the world gathered together in Bern to strive for one common goal: to strengthen their knowledge in evaluation. It was fun, we all learnt a lot, and we are looking forward to IPDET 2019!”

So, let’s develop IPDET further to serve the changing evaluation needs!

“We are the world’s evaluators.
We are the ones who take a global view– eval-uat-ing.
There’s a need we’re serving,
To use our IPDET lens,
Evaluating transformation globally.”
(Michael Quinn Patton, Bern, July 2018)