SVA Update: Issue 3
At A Glance: Prof. John Briggs Evaluation Report
At Student Volunteers Abroad we have three clear aims which every member works towards, in Glasgow and abroad. These aims are: to work with local organisations on sustainable projects for the relief of poverty; to promote awareness and education, amongst students, of the social and environmental issues which affect the developing world; and to promote cultural links and encourage cultural exchange.
Our first aim is the sustainability of our impact. It is the cornerstone of all our work abroad. This year SVA have made Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) central to the process of our efforts at poverty elimination. Through M & E we are looking to improve the delivery of our interventions to make sure what we do is more and more sustainable and effective in delivering positive change.
Professor John Briggs of the Glasgow Centre for International Development (GCID) submitted his findings on SVA’s 2012 projects. Prof Brigg’s report was based on post-project evaluations provided by last year’s volunteers. Here is a breakdown of what Prof Brigg’s found.
Across SVA’s 7 projects there were 60 volunteers involved and they engaged in a total of 55 weeks of project work; a combined total of 3300 student-weeks of effort in the field - and this doesn’t take into account time spent in preparation or on return to Glasgow. SVA’s total budget across all projects was £44300, which averages out at about £6300 per project, or, more usefully, less than £14 per student-week. Prof Briggs stated that this “represents good value for what was generally achieved across the 7 projects”
Across all SVA projects a common theme to emerge was personal development, increased confidence, teamwork, skills-building and cultural awareness. Briggs talked of a sense of great drive and enthusiasm being demonstrated by the volunteers, though he did highlight occasional implicit and explicit references to some volunteers ‘not pulling their weight’.
Primary level teaching dominating the 7 projects. This fact tended to follow from the interests of local NGOs. Prof Briggs suggested exploring the possibilities of developing partnerships with non-educational NGOs.
The project evaluations highlighted some tensions between the volunteer group and the host NGO coordinators. Many of these may have been down simply to misunderstandings but it was recommended SVA look closely at structural issues pre-departure and on an on-going evaluative basis.
Prof Briggs also recommended putting in place both qualitative and quantitative measures of effectiveness in delivering project aims, carried out by volunteers and NGOs.
Overall, Professor Brigg’s claimed that the drive and commitment of volunteers was “exemplary”. He was also impressed by the use of host NGOs which ensures SVA’s interventions are identified and needed by the communities themselves.
Professor Brigg’s findings are encouraging and so is SVA’s commitment to improve the delivery of our sustainable development interventions across all seven projects. The onus is now on all of our current volunteers to carry this feedback through to 2013’s project to make sure we continue to go from strength to strength.
SVA is a Scottish Registered Charity: No. SC 030081 c/o. University of Glasgow SRC, The John MacIntyre Building, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW, G12 8QQ