The 1990s were dominated by policies reducing government spending through the structural adjustment programmes.
By Joy Asiimwe Turyamwijuka
A lot of development policies, strategies and projects have begun and ended leaving the continent in more questions than answers. With such questions there is an opportunity for learning before going ahead to implement and invest in new strategies and projects.
For the last two decades African countries have been subjected to different approaches and strategies to bring development but all is still in vain.
The 1990s were dominated by policies reducing government spending through the structural adjustment programmes (SAPS). Structural adjustment led to sudden unemployment and poverty of civil servants and others who were retrenched. Development policies, strategies and projects have been questioned on being either solutions or new challenges. What happened to the savings done by governments in SAPs? Who could fill in the space left by retrenched civil servants such as extension workers, sub county chiefs, teachers in public schools, health services, parastatals and development corporations? The NGOs came in quickly to fill in the gaps in service delivery but along with their strengths and weaknesses! The questions again arose as to whether NGOs/Non state organisations are noble partners of governments in development or not; and where is their place?
The New Millennium came with the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and now the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). MDGs brought a beacon of hope by opening up Africa for donor funding on the 8 Goals but concentrated in public sector empowerment. At the end of 15 years, again questions were raised as at the beginning of the millennium. In Uganda, the commencement of the Universal Primary Education Policy increased primary school enrollment to a success of 145% though the results at close of Primary Seven still need more quality improvement. This attracts questions such as what happened to all the inputs and outputs to the MDG 3? Which indicators were used to track the progress? Then what would be a better step next?
On the positive side of UPE results however, was the mushrooming of private schools, with much more innovation in teaching and learning. The secondary question raised was then on the implications of having private sector better preferred than public model schools in terms of quality and innovation. However, the private schools if not regulated could become attractive business and regressive on education outcomes.
Questions like these have become very interesting for the stakeholders in African Development; especially to professionals in programme monitoring and evaluation and research. One such opportunity to follow up these questions is the professional associations in development evaluation in Africa.
Learning is what matters most amidst Africa's development challenges and it is the right time to increase knowledge of M&E.
The writer is the general secretary of the Uganda Evaluation Association and lecturer at the Uganda Christian University