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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Monitoring & evaluation


­­­­2015 is the Year of Evaluation and in this section the Policy Action Network (PAN) provides updates and a range of publications on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), particularly in the South African context. PAN promotes the use of evidence in decision-making across government departments and recognises the wealth of information that becomes available through M&E processes in government. Subscribers can submit recommended documents online or send to [email protected]

Related publications

Link: Publication

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is considered a valuable mechanism for improving the quality of public policy and has become politically important for policymakers. However, few studies have covered the process of designing and implementing the administrative structures required for effective M&E. Pioneering approaches to evaluating social protection policies by Brazil's Secretariat of Evaluation and Information Management (SAGI) provide key lessons around effective M&E systems.

These include the importance of timing evaluations so that they contribute to decision-making processes, ensuring qualified researchers both commission and conduct the evaluations, and developing a reporting system which both handles feedback sensitively and remains transparent about results.

This policy brief argues for a policy direction to develop a culture of formative assessment through what is termed ANA Professional Development (ANA_PD) programmes.

South Africa has a high enrolment rate and a high investment rate in education (about 5 per cent of GDP), but education is still of unsatisfactory quality. This policy brief proposes wider usage of value-added assessment (VAA) and analysis (which provides a more reliable estimate of the value added – the extent to which schools make a difference in their learners’ achievement levels) in policy decision-making.

Provides an overview of approaches to monitoring and evaluating policy influence, based on an exploratory review of the literature and selected interviews with expert informants, as well as ongoing discussions and advisory projects for policy-makers and practitioners who also face the challenges of monitoring and evaluation.

This is a discussion (originally posted in the Gender and Evaluation community) led by Rituu B Nanda regarding Laura Hughston's report which presents a child-led evaluation of a multi-sectoral programme in Cambodia seeking to empower adolescent girls and address the challenges they face accessing quality education. Read the report here. The report describes the process that enabled children to select evaluation questions, collect and analyse data in order to evaluate this multi-thematic programme’s relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, results, sustainability and equity. Gender, SRHR, School Governance and Accountability are among the themes addressed by the programme. The report also presents some practical data collection tools that are particularly suited to children and adults with lower levels of literacy, such as the daisy and confidence snails.


Scaling Up for Nutrition

The first complete version of this M&E Framework is reflected in this document and consists of three complementary components. The document was developed in consultation with SUN Networks. A Reference Group, consisting of representatives of all Networks, and Lead Group were constituted to support this work. A two-day design workshop was held in Geneva on 07 & 08 March 2013. The M&E Framework brings together, in one document, the expected results of the Movement and stakeholder commitments as outlined in the SUN Movement Strategy and Roadmap and in individual Network planning documents. The M&E Framework encompasses the results of the Movement as set out in the SUN Movement Strategy, the revised SUN Road Map and individual planning documents, such as SUN Network Activity Plans or strategies.

This guide was designed to help those monitoring and evaluating projects with children. It does not aim to discuss how to do evaluation but shows how to involve children in the process of evaluation and what needs to change or be taken into account when working with them. It grew out of a participatory evaluation of the Girls First Clubs carried out in Togo, in March 2005, where the children from the clubs made a valuable contribution to the evaluation process.

The Nutrition Barometer provides a snapshot of national governments’ commitments to addressing children’s nutrition, and the progress they have made. It looks at 36 developing countries with the highest levels of child undernutrition. The Barometer measures governments’ political and legal commitment to tackling malnutrition (eg, whether they have a national nutrition plan), as well as their financial commitment. Countries’ progress in tackling malnutrition is measured by children’s nutritional status – the proportion who are underweight, stunted or suffering from wasting – and children’s chances of survival.

Sets out the top tips to transform monitoring and evaluation from a box-ticking exercise into a major organisational asset, and shares the story of how the monitoring system ‘Views’ was developed.

Brings together the lessons learned from different stakeholders on the strategic role of monitoring and evaluation in evidence-based polic.

"Family planning is a human right. Yet today some 222 million women in developing countries are unable to exercise that right because they lack access to contraceptives, information and quality services or because social and economic forces prevent them from taking advantage of services even where they are available. The State of World Population 2012 explains why family planning is a right, examines the challenges in ensuring that all women, men and young people are able to exercise that right and suggests actions that governments and international organizations can take to give everyone the power and the means to decide freely and responsibly how many children to have and when to have them."

This is a report outlining the outcomes of the Children's Bill Costing Project. The project was commissioned by the Department of Social Development in late 2004. Such a process is mandated by the Public Finance Management Act. It is a comprehensive report on the process of costing and the amount of expenditure incurred by government in this particular law-making process.

An Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysis of the education component of the Mexican government’s welfare programme, Progresa, which aims to reduce rural poverty. It argues that increasing the grant for secondary school children while eliminating it at the primary age would strengthen Progresa’s impact.

This report presents the findings of a research team’s analysis of a specially designed survey fielded in rural and urban areas of 5 South African provinces, supporting the rigorous impact assessment of how access to the CSG affects key aspects of child and adolescent well-being.  Also refer to the executive summary and the policy brief, South Africa’s Child Support Grant: Overall findings from an integrated qualitative-quantitative evaluation

Link: Publication

In 2010 government established the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, recently renamed the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Many monitoring systems have been established, and this is the first annual report on the National Evaluation System.

Link: Publication

Multiple incidents of violence in South African schools have elevated the issue to being a national concern. The aim of this article is to report on an investigation into the perception of school communities regarding conditions that make violence such a persistent problem in schools. 

The annual report highlights the main accomplishments and results UNICEF achieved in South Africa during 2013, with special features such as infographics and human interest stories. UNICEF’s work is aligned with the South African Government’s Medium-Term Strategic Framework for 2009–2014, including its 12 priority outcomes and the priorities outlined in the National Development Plan. Within this context, UNICEF focuses on reducing inequities, addressing child poverty and promoting children’s rights.


Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths sets out a vision of a world in which there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive and reach their full potential. Nearly 3 million lives could be saved each year if the actions in the plan are implemented and its goals and targets achieved. Based on evidence of what works, and developed within the framework for Every Woman Every Child, the plan enhances and supports coordinated, comprehensive planning and implementation of newborn-specific actions within the context of national reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health strategies and action plans, and in collaboration with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, professional associations and others. The goal is to achieve equitable and high-quality coverage of care for all women and newborns through links with other global and national plans, measurement and accountability. 

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health identified the actions, policies and solutions from 10 countries making substantial progress in improving women and children’s health. This report highlights 10 low- and middle-income countries and the factors that have led to their progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, from 1990 to present. The 10 ‘fast-track’ countries with notable achievements in maternal, newborn and child health include: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda and Viet Nam. This report summarises the highlights of a three year multi-disciplinary, multistakeholder series of studies.

The 2014 report, Fulfilling the Health Agenda for Women and Children, was released exactly 18 months to the day from the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015. Like previous Countdown reports, it includes an updated, detailed profile for each of the 75 Countdown countries, which together account for more than 95% of the global burden of maternal, newborn and child death. The report shows that progress has been impressive in some areas, but it also highlights the vast areas of unfinished business that must be prioritized in the post-2015 framework. The 2014 report also provides an assessment of the state of the data to support evidence-based decisions in women's and children's health, and describes elements of the Countdown process that might inform ongoing efforts to hold the world to account for progress. It concludes by laying out concrete action steps that can be taken now to ensure continued progress for women and children in the years ahead.

Poverty, inequality and exclusion are hallmarks of a highly iniquitous society. In order for the rights of all children to be realised, it is essential that this gap- and the resultant chasms in service delivery and overall quality of life- be removed. The child population is one of the segments of the population more prone to becoming trapped in poverty and therefore the most logical site for successful poverty-ending intervention.  The publication seeks to explore the kind of intervention that would be necessary to bring this about through literature reviews and policy simulations. This research report investigates the extent to which groups of children are caught up in the intersection of poverty and exclusion, what the characteristics of these children are and to what extent they are or are not reached by policies and the additional efforts necessary to break free from the surrounding traps.

Document(s): PDF icon 20 Year Review.pdf

The purpose of this Twenty year review is to reflect on the legacy that democratic South Africa inherited, how the country has progressed in realising the objectives it set for itself in 1994, the challenges which still remain and how could the South African government best address these as South Africa enter the third decade of democracy. 

Towards a fifteen year review is not only about taking stock of progress. It is equally  about identifying shortcomings and challenges, the better to contribute to initiatives  aimed at further improving the country’s development efforts. This review was supplemented in 2006 by a report on macrosocial trends. The report, entitled A Nation in the Making, concluded that South African society was making advances in terms of both hard (socio-economic) and soft (identity and social cohesion) issues, but that there were still many challenges to be overcome to fully realise the vision of a better life for all.

Document(s): PDF icon 10year review.pdf

The First Decade of Freedom Review, conducted by government in 2003, assessing how far the new government’s Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) key objectives  which are: meeting basic needs, building the economy, democratising the state and society, developing human resources and nation building. Have been met through the work of its five clusters.

The United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights and the subsequent African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child together with the Bill of Children’s Rights and numerous other policies and regulations in many African countries have set the precedent for children’s rights to be respected and implemented across the African Continent. However, little is known about the actual advancement of children’s rights within Sub-Saharan Africa; hence, the purpose of this study was to explore the advancement of children’s rights within an African context.

PAN:Children is hosting a Colloquium on lone mothers, social security and dignity in South Africa on 6 June 2014 at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria. The purpose of this colloquium is to share results from DFID/ESRC -funded project that is nearing completion and to discuss with the attendees the emerging findings and policy implications. The project entitled ' Lone mothers in South Africa- The role of social security in respecting and protecting dignity' was led by Professor Noble at the University of Oxford and involved collaborations with colleagues at the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of the Western Cape. This event is for stakeholders in government and civil society.

This study, globally the first comprehensive review of independent human rights institutions for children, takes stock of more than 20 years of their experience.The report provides practitioners with an extensive discussion of the issues as well as a series of regional analyses from around the world. The aim is to help readers understand the purpose and potential of independent human rights institutions for children, what it is they do and how they operate. This review covers institutions created by law or decree that are independent at least in principle. It includes institutions performing activities related to children’s rights operating at the national or local level. The report is organized into two major parts: a series of thematic chapters, drawing out lessons from practice on the distinctive principles and features underlying the function of child rights institutions; and an overview of their international development, looking at the work of institutions by region.

Link: Report

The 2011 Global Monitoring Report examines the damaging consequences of conflict for the Education for All goals. It sets out an agenda for protecting the right to education during conflict, strengthening provision for children, youth and adults affected by conflict, and rebuilding education systems in countries emerging from conflict.

The Report also explores the role of inappropriate education policies in creating conditions for violent conflict. Drawing on experience from a range of countries, it identifies problems and sets out solutions that can help make education a force for peace, social cohesion and human dignity.

Children with disabilities

Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World's Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children. 2013 focuses the attention on children with disabilities. Their many vulnerabilities are explored and highlighted and the report advocates for equity for these children through inclusion. Extensive recommendations are given.

All countries in the world acknowledge the universality of the right to education and South Africa (SA) is no exception. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) as Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989,(2) every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education. How successful has SA been in ensuring the realisation of this right? Does the legal, political, economic and social environment in the country promote or constrain this right? Above all, based on what is currently happening in the country, can it be convincingly concluded that the state is committed to the fulfilment of this right for every child? This CAI paper looks at the current South African education environment and examines if such an environment promotes or constrains the realisation of the right to education. CONTINUE READING

This Journal Article is found in 'South African Medical Journal, 2013, 103 (3):133.' for more READ HERE

This report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 66/141. The Special Rapporteur describes her activities in relation to the discharge of her mandate since her previous report to the Assembly. She also analyses the role of child participation in preventing and combating the sale and sexual exploitation of children and provides practical guidance on the lessons learned in working with children as partners. She makes specific recommendations on how to establish and strengthen child participation within a rights-based comprehensive child protection system.

The present report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 66/229, provides an overview of the status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It contains a list of signatories, ratifications or accessions to the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto, information on the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and reporting on the ongoing efforts of Governments towards the ratification and implementation of the Convention. The report also presents an overview of the progress made by the entities of the United Nations system towards implementation of the Convention and describes relevant activities by non-governmental organizations.

The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 8/4 and 17/3. It is devoted to technical and vocational education and training from a right to education perspective. It highlights international obligations as well as political commitments to promote technical and vocational education and training. The report analyses norms and standards developed through international instruments, and underlines the importance of national-level normative action to maximize the contribution of technical and vocational education and training to empowerment and social and economic development.The Special Rapporteur stresses specific characteristics of technical and vocational education and training as a right, and analyses evolving national legal and policy frameworks. He underlines the need to ensure quality in such education and training and the responsibilities of various stakeholders involved in its implementation. The report also addresses the importance of technical and vocational education and training in the post-2015 “Education for All” and development agendas and concludes with a set of recommendations.

The present third annual report of this kind reviews key developments and initiatives undertaken at the global, regional and national levels.  The report provides an overview of results achieved and progress promoted in the area of the protection of children from violence, identifying efforts required to sustain and scale up achievements made, and informing a strategic future agenda.

In this report, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing analyses the ruling paradigm of housing policies that focus on housing finance as the main means of promoting homeownership. The report assesses the impact of prevalent housing finance policies on the right to adequate housing of those living in poverty. The Special Rapporteur concludes that the full realization of the right to adequate housing, without discrimination, cannot be promoted solely by financial mechanisms and requires broader and more holistic housing policies and State interventions. She calls for a paradigm shift from housing policies based on the financialization of housing to a human rights-based approach to housing policies.

This report presents the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) undertaken from August 2011 to July 2012, illustrating the implementation of the six thematic priorities of the Office as defined in its management plans for 2010-2011 and 2012-2013. The six areas are: Strengthening of human rights mechanisms and the progressive development of international human rights law; Countering discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, discrimination on the grounds of sex or religion and discrimination against others who are marginalized; Pursuing economic, social and cultural rights and combating inequalities and poverty, including in the context of the economic, food and climate crises; Human rights in the context of migration; Combating impunity and strengthening accountability, the rule of law and democratic society and Protecting human rights in situations of armed conflict, violence and insecurity. The report shows that while determined to undertake these challenges, the Office of the High Commissioner needs adequate political and financial support if it is to fulfil its mandate in a timely and meaningful manner,with a view to contributing effectively to the protection of human rights everywhere.

This is a report tracking the implementation process of certain aspects of the Child Justice Act. It focuses on 3 main themes and highlights the impact and effects that certain of the theme - related challenges have had on the overall implementation of the Act. The three themes are:

(1) Diversion (including the accreditation process, the continuing decrease in the number of diversions, the impact thereof and other diversion-related challenges),

(2) The sentencing of children to compulsory residence in Child and Youth Care Centres (including the availability of facilities, the challenges being experienced in the handing over of reform school and schools of industry facilities to the Department of Social Development and related issues), and

(3) One Stop Child Justice Centres (including the implementation of the Act at these Centres).

For a brief overview of this report please go to Association for Women's Right in Development here

The South African Child Gauge is published annually by the Children’s Institute, University of Cape, to monitor government and civil society’s progress towards realising children’s rights. This issue focuses on children and inequality.It was launched on the 17th October 2012.This document is divided into three parts:

PART ONE: Children and law reform Part one discusses recent legislative developments affecting children. This issue comments on litigation and law reform in relation to the Children’s Act; the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act; the Social Assistance Act regulations; the National Health Act; and the Traditional Courts Bill. See pages 14 – 19.

PART TWO: Children and inequality: Closing the gap Part two presents 10 essays – the first four essays set the scene by defining children’s equality rights and explaining the nature and extend of inequality, the spatial dimensions of child deprivation in South Africa, and the impact of place, care and migration on children’s lives. The following five essays outline the potential of particular policies and programmes to reduce inequalities amongst South Africa’s children, including social grants, early childhood development services, access to health care, HIV treatment and prevention services, and access to quality education. The final essay reflects on emerging opportunities and challenges, and critical considerations for policy. See pages 22 – 77.

PART THREE: Children Count – the numbers Part three updates a set of key indicators on children’s socio-economic rights and provides commentary on the extent to which these rights have been realised. The indicators are a special subset selected from the website See pages 80 – 105.

This is one of the most definative and widely utilised South African child rights documents, providing a concise and focused synopsis of the situation of children throughout the country.

PAN:Children is hosting a policy dialogue titled 'Children and the media: Yesterday, today and tomorrow ' on 28 July 2014. Cognisant of the fact that the state cannot achieve the realisation, protection and promotion of children’s rights alone, the seminar seeks to bring forth a discussion on how the media can play an important role in ensuring the realisation of children’s rights. The seminar discussion on children and the media seeks to provide a brief overview of how children are represented in the media. It will chronicle some of the challenges and map out possible solutions or policy interventions to some of the problems children face, from existing media challenges to addressing the growth, dangers, potential and development of digital media and what they mean for children and the future of our country.

In this first issue of From Evidence to Action for 2012, we look at networks and, specifically, the role they play in changing policy. Our feature article, Getting the most out of policy networks, examines what a network actually is and what makes them effective. Through the example of the Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa, EQUINET, our case study further explores how to build networks and how they can be used to influence policy. We also find out more about the Policy Action Network, how to manage a Community of Practice. 

Government policy & legislation

Link: Publication

In 2010 government established the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, recently renamed the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Many monitoring systems have been established, and this is the first annual report on the National Evaluation System.