Original Research - Special Collection: Addressing Knowledge Asymmetries

Decolonising national evaluation systems

Ian Goldman, Candice Morkel, Edoé D. Agbodjan, Thokozile G. Molaiwa
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 12, No 2 | a731 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v12i2.731 | © 2024 Ian Goldman, Candice Morkel, Edoé D. Agbodjan, Thokozile G. Molaiwa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 January 2024 | Published: 20 June 2024

About the author(s)

Ian Goldman, International Evaluation Academy, London, United Kingdom; and, CLEAR Anglophone Africa, Faculty of Commerce Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, Faculty of Management, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Candice Morkel, International Evaluation Academy, London, United Kingdom; and, CLEAR Anglophone Africa, Faculty of Commerce Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Edoé D. Agbodjan, CLEAR Francophone Africa, Dakar, Senegal; and, African Center for Higher Studies in Management (CESAG), Dakar, Senegal
Thokozile G. Molaiwa, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Evaluation, Evidence and Knowledge Systems Branch, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The world is facing rapidly declining health of the climate and ecosystems on which all species depend, with wealth accumulating in the hands of a few, a result of unsustainable economic systems. Evaluation has the potential for a significant role in learning from the past and helping to guide a regenerative future, but for this, the approach to evaluation and the systems that produce them must be transformative and take on more holistic approaches to society and the planet.

Objectives: This study aims to explore how cases of African national evaluation systems (NESs) apply elements of a decolonised social-ecological model and how this could be strengthened.

Method: This study involves a constructive critical analysis of the South African and Benin NESs, drawing on literature on decolonising evaluation and a new institutionalism lens to the formation of post-colonial bureaucracies, tested in a webinar conversation around decolonising evaluation in November 2023.

Results: The African NESs have embedded learning, exhibit both machine-based and ecological-based elements, and experience some decolonised aspects. A key limitation is the lack of involvement of communities in the systems.

Conclusion: This study argues for: (1) allowing NESs to break from historical forms of bureaucratic functioning; (2) developing a systems-based approach as the basis for new thinking around NESs, strengthening their ecological aspects; (3) embracing the learning approaches we see in both countries; (4) embracing principles of participatory democracy and co-production by strengthening the voice of non-state actors, particularly citizens, in the formation of NESs and (5) changing power dynamics, in NESs and evaluations.

Contribution: This article is contributing to a debate on how evaluation systems can be decolonised and power relations changed.

 


Keywords

decolonisation; evaluation; institutionalism; national evaluation systems; eco-just world; social-ecological systems; machine-based systems; just transition

JEL Codes

H83: Public Administration • Public Sector Accounting and Audits

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Metrics

Total abstract views: 1217
Total article views: 674

 

Crossref Citations

1. Editorial: Addressing knowledge asymmetries in memory of Dr Sulley Gariba
Mark Abrahams, Florence Etta, Mjiba Frehiwot, Eddah Kanini, Jean P. Nzabonimpa, Nicola Theunissen
African Evaluation Journal  vol: 12  issue: 2  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/aej.v12i2.762