Original Research - Special Collection: SAMEA 7th Biennial Conference 2019

Learning to learn: The experience of learning facilitation for grantees of Comic-Relief-funded projects

Dena Lomofsky, Jake Grout-Smith
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 8, No 1 | a480 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v8i1.480 | © 2020 Dena Lomofsky, Jake Grout-Smith | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 March 2020 | Published: 28 October 2020

About the author(s)

Dena Lomofsky, Southern Hemisphere, Cape Town, South Africa
Jake Grout-Smith, Comic Relief, London, United Kingdom


This article shares a learning facilitation process that Comic Relief, a UK-based funder, supported with its grantees. It is based on the case study of a learning cohort that Comic Relief established for one of its grants. The methodology for the case study is participatory action research. The case study demonstrates that by actively encouraging learning, grantees are empowered to adapt essential programmes to enhance programme effectiveness. Grant-makers need to consciously create the conditions for learning to encourage programme adaptation because organisations in international development (or local charities) have operated for many years under the dominant paradigm of results-based management. Results-based management tends to assert upward accountability based on low levels of trust and mechanistic processes for planning and reporting that attempt to control outcomes through forward planning and high-level decision-making. In this paradigm, organisations often end up proving a vision of success, rather than honestly learning from their implementation experience. However, a greater recognition of its unsuitability for working in highly complex contexts necessitates more learning by frontline workers and implementing organisations. This article shares our experience of how a carefully designed learning coordination and facilitation process encourages this kind of adaptation amongst grantees, generating lessons about design and implementation of projects that can be shared more broadly with others working with gang-affected girls and young women.


Monitoring; Evaluation; Learning; Results-based management; Adaptive management; Grant-making


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