A recent evaluation of Danida Fellowship Programme is largely very positive. The programme is well-managed, course participants find the training relevant, and embassies acknowledge the positive contribution to Danish development cooperation. But there are still some governance weaknesses.
By Jan Kjær
Danida Fellowship Programme (DFP) is providing training which is assessed by course participants as highly relevant to their needs. And they are able to apply what they learn when they return to their workplace.
This is one of the main conclusions of a brand new evaluation initiated by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main funder of Danida Fellowship Centre.
Well-managed and well-prepared
The evaluation is largely very positive.
The course participants value the programme very highly. Course materials are well-prepared and courses use appropriate training methodologies.
The programme is generally well-managed, particularly through course selection, design and implementation.
Furthermore, most Danish embassies believe that DFP is making an important and positive contribution to the objectives of Danish development cooperation.
Assessing activities and results
The evaluation itself took place in 2012 and was carried out by a team of international consultants who were asked to document and assess the activities and results of the DFP.
The team assessed the contribution that the DFP has made to achieving results in terms of learning, behaviour change and capacity development. They have also looked into the management and governance arrangements to assess whether they are conducive for delivering high quality training.
The last strategic review of the programme took place in 2008. The new review includes the period 2008-12 in which some of the training courses has been transferred from Denmark to training institutes in developing countries.
Also, the development and implementation of the 2011-13 Strategy for the DFP forms part of the review.
Room for improvement
The embassies are generally satisfied with the shift towards more training in the developing countries which also seems to reduce the overall costs.
Progress has also been made in developing an enhanced monitoring and evaluation system for DFP although it is still not fully implemented.
But there is also room for improvement.
Previous evaluations have highlighted a lack of ownership of the DFP and weaknesses in governance. The new review indicates that the development of the strategic plan has overcome some of the problems, but embassies and Danida programmes still do not have enough influence on the courses.
The missing link
The review also calls for a results framework which should articulate what the programme should achieve and how it should be measured. Especially, what goes beyond self-assessment and learning outcomes, which DFC is already monitoring. But how does the programme help to change behavior and how does it help develop the capacity of the organizations? In the absence of such a framework it is not possible to link expenditure to results.
Although course participants generally are very content with the training, some were frustrated, because they were not able to apply what they had learned due to the organizational or political context at their workplace. Many suggestions made for improvement of DFP focused on strengthening the follow-up and networking process.
The team recommendations
The team comes up with a wide variety of recommendations to both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Danida Fellow Centre in order to enhance the programme further.
The Ministry should formulate a policy to guide the preparation of the next DFP strategy clarifying the relationship of the programme with Danida’s policies and objectives for capacity development. In addition, the roles and responsibilities between DFC, Danish embassies and programmes and Ministry departments need clarification. So do the resources that are required to carry out DFP.
The Ministry and DFC should together develop a results framework for the DFP.
Implementation of the DFP monitoring and evaluation system should form the basis for the future reporting of results, focusing in particular on behavior change measurement and evidence of organisational capacity building.
DFC should engage more directly in the follow-up process of its training activities and in this respect consider how the cooperation with Danish embassies and Danida programme staff can be strengthened.
This review report can be obtained free of charge in hard copy by ordering from www.evaluation.dk. Here you can also download a digital version.
The evaluation took place in 2012 and was carried out by a team of international consultants from Oxford Policy Management and SIPU International, the Swedish Institute for Public Administration.
They made country case studies in Ghana and Uganda, the two countries that have provided the most DFP course participants over the evaluation period.
In addition, the evaluation used information from the following data collections and analysis:
• analysis of DFP governance arrangements
• analysis of DFP management arrangements
• analysis of the DFP portfolio;
• comparative study of similar bilateral training programmes
• online surveys of course participants
• online surveys of Danish embassies
• online surveys of course providers
• assessment of the quality of course materials and training approaches
• a review of existing monitoring and evaluation information.
Facts about the Danida Fellowship Programme
The DFP has since 1990 been administered by the Danida Fellowship Centre (DFC) with the objective of supporting capacity development in developing countries through organising training activities ranging from short courses to longer-term postgraduate studies.
In 2011, the DFP provided 1,533 fellowship months of training to 1,260 fellows, with a budget of DKK 76.8 million.