Youth take the lead in Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

Ten young Kenyan professionals, aged between 21 and 35, have graduated from the inaugural Young Impact Associates (YIA) Program—a one-year initiative dedicated to their development and leadership within the domain of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL).

Inspired by the late Sulley Gariba, a Ghanaian expert in the fields of MEL and International Development, the Mastercard Foundation introduced the YIA Program in 2022.

The program seeks to engage and empower a fresh, dynamic generation of young Africans, propelling them to become catalysts for transformation within the MEL sector.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning professionals

The initial phase of the YIA Program was a collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation Impact Team and its Impact Partner Organizations (IPOs) across five strategically chosen Young Africa Works strategy countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria.

A total of 59 YIA professionals from these five nations were trained with Kenya offering 10 Young Impact Associates who graduated on October 6th.

The YIA program seeks to equip participants with the means to access meaningful and dignified employment opportunities within the realm of MEL.

It also aims to empower them to actively shape MEL practices and methodologies. Overall, the program seeks to place young professionals equipped with MEL expertise at the heart of development communities in Kenya and across Africa.

Salline Handa, the Team Lead of the Impact Partner Organization, Research PLUS Africa, said “This initiative aims to elevate the MEL landscape, recognizing the unique characteristics of our continent and applying methodologies that resonate with the African context.”

The Mastercard Foundation’s partnership with Research PLUS Africa involved the design, management, and delivery of the YIA program’s one-year training curriculum. This curriculum integrated context-relevant impact theory and practice, leadership development, and on-the-job experience.

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Enhance skills

Learners had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in core development areas,  including fundamentals of MEL. They also learned the intricacies of evaluation design and management and proficient data handling and analysis.

The application of Made-in-Africa evaluation methodologies, cultivation of soft skills and interpersonal proficiencies were also taught. What’s more, the training included cultivation of a professional acumen with a keen understanding of the contemporary job market dynamics.

“We equip them with essential skills and offer them the chance to undergo apprenticeship under the mentorship of seasoned local MEL experts. We find ourselves in a unique position, not only nurturing individuals but also enhancing the value chain in program evaluation through locally cultivated expertise,” Salline Handa explained.

Speaking about the program and its curriculum, Faith Ronoh-Boreh, the Program Lead at Research PLUS Africa stated, “When examining the MEL landscape in Kenya and across Africa, it becomes evident that locals often do not occupy key roles in evaluation, especially young individuals. It’s truly inspiring to witness ‘Tathmins’ eagerly seeking a place at the table in this field, not as mere bystanders but as significant contributors and thought leaders.”