M&E: What is it? Why do we do it?

M&E: What is it? Why do we do it?

One of my biggest professional goals here at Nanubhai has been to create and implement a proper M&E system. For all of you non-INGO workers out there, M&E stands for “monitoring and evaluation.” This was a major part of my grad school coursework, and something that I take very seriously.

Claire and I once sat down and calculated how many students our combined salaries (including airfare, housing, food, etc.) would send to school for a year. It was a fairly large number. Of course, the Kadod High School does not turn away students in need, but looking at my job in this way keeps me motivated. If I, or any other staff member, cannot bring a high degree of utility to this job, then why are we here at all? Of course, this sort of thinking can lead to serious existential angst. I have found that it is preferable to avoid existential angst while living in a town without a bar.

Rather, I am inspired to make sure that the programming we run in India is actually effective. While this may seem simple, many INGOs (I’m not naming any names, but I could) spend years blundering along, doing little good and/or much harm. Unlike for-profit businesses, it is easy for us to avoid the hard questions and continue to pat ourselves on the back. However, I want to ask the hard questions; in fact, I consider it to be an essential part of working in a different culture. And so we wonder: Do teachers’ skills really improve? Do students actually learn to speak more English? Without constantly and consistently monitoring and evaluating our programs, it is impossible to know.

This year, with the help of our two interns, we have been able to implement the first stage of our student assessments, testing a random sample of ten kids from every class taught by a co-teacher, as well as students from our Spoken English program. This will work out to almost 200 students. The same test will be given at the middle and end of the year, to gauge if students’ English skills are improving, and if so, by what margin.

The M&E rubric for classroom observations which Claire designed last year generated great data about our teaching program. We saw that, on average, our teachers showed a 32% total increase. Teachers showed the greatest growth in “Supporting Students,” “Board Preparation,” and “Overall Class Preparation.” Teachers achieved mastery in “Use of Time” and “Use of English.” While I had always felt that our teachers showed dramatic improvement, this confirmed it. I am confident that the student data collection we are now working on will show similar results. And if it doesn’t, then we will use that data to take a long, hard look at our programming. Of all the things I have done at Nanubhai, co-developing strong and transparent M&E systems is one of the things that gives me the most pride. I know that this will benefit us for years to come, and set us and our programming apart from others in the field.