2019/08/16 | University | State & Economy

Development professionals from over 70 nations meet in Bern

IPDET, the world's leading continuing education programme for evaluations in development work, took place for the second time at the University of Bern. For three weeks, 250 evaluation experts from all over the world gathered under the umbrella of the Centre for Continuing Education at Universities (ZUW). Hlali Kemedi Kgaphola from South Africa is one of them. "uniaktuell" met the young economist.

Claudia Kaufmann

Why did you take part in IPDET? What were your expectations?
I wanted to enhance my knowledge and get to know new evaluation methods and tools that I might not be aware of. I don’t know where my career will take me in the next 10 years. That’s why I want to acquire a holistic view on evaluation – from the perspective of someone who actually conducts evaluations as well as from that of someone who commissions them. I'm also responsible for capacitating evaluators on a provincial level, and I wanted to be better equipped for this position. IPDET achieves all this – and I'm loving it! I will return to my country, to my department with new skills and fresh ideas, and will also be able to pass them on by sharing them with my colleagues. I am very grateful that there are scholarships available to make this experience possible.

What are the most important insights you gained from IPDET?
I have gained substantial insights into the conduct of evaluations and developed a more focused view on what we are trying to achieve with evaluations – both as an evaluator and as a commissioner. However the top two takeaways are the re-emphasis of the importance of theory in conducting monitoring and evaluation and how to clearly articulate the evaluation hypothesis for monitoring and evaluation purposes. Experts came here from more than 70 countries to attend the event.

What was your experience of this international “IPDET community”?
One thing that I truly appreciate about IPDET is the supportive learning environment it creates with many opportunities for networking and exchange throughout the program delivery. This is something that attracted me to the program and I am really pleased it is really happening. I am actually getting to know experts from all over the world in one place, have the opportunity to exchange ideas, and also be able to learn from their experiences in their countries. We’ll be taking home not just new knowledge but also a lot of new contacts. That’s what the IPDET community is all about – people enhancing their knowledge and skill in evaluation as well as networking and assisting each other on relevant evaluation topics. In a sense, IPDET is like an open space for me, where I can ask a question and receive ten different views from ten different countries.

This was your first time in Switzerland. What were your expectations of Bern? Did anything come as a particular surprise to you?
I didn’t have too many expectations before coming here, I was open minded. However, Bern is certainly smaller than I had imaged. Nonetheless, its old architectural landscape is beautiful and I wouldn’t mind considering furthering my studies here. I was certainly intrigued by the culture of Bern - inclusive of social aspects, for example, socialization at the Aare River. All the people from different backgrounds and walks of life swimming together in the river. This “socializing” in the Aare really is unique! I even swam in the Aare myself, and that was an amazing experience. I’ve noticed that you really love bread here, and I am really looking forward to tasting other Swiss signatory dishes as well as your cheese.

How are you going to describe Bern back home?
I’d definitely say beautiful, peaceful, and clean! As we were taking a walk along the Aare, I saw a woman pick up a bottle, which someone else had dropped on the ground, and put it in the bin. That is not common at all, and a surprisingly pleasant gesture to see.

IPDET (International Program for Development Evaluation Training)

Founded in 2001 by the World Bank, IPDET takes place every summer. Since 2018, it has been managed jointly by the Center for Continuing Education (ZUW) at the University of Bern, the Center for Evaluation (CEval) at Saarland University and the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank. It provides managers and practitioners with the tools to evaluate development strategies, programs, and projects on a local, national, regional, and global level. The range of continuing education activities it offers is aimed at development professionals who conduct, commission, manage or use evaluations. The participants come from ministries or state authorities in developing countries, development banks, the non-profit and foundation sector, the United Nations system and from bilateral development agencies, universities, think tanks and private-sector consulting firms specializing in development evaluation.

Evaluation at the University of Bern

The University of Bern is the only Swiss university to offer a comprehensive range of continuing education courses in evaluation. It does so at the Center for Continuing Education (ZUW) and has done for 16 years now. Switzerland’s first academic continuing education program in evaluation officially started here in 2002. Since then, the program has been continually developed further. Currently, the continuing education program offers CAS, DAS and MAS degree programs. The higher-level studies are based on the lower-level studies, with students also being given the opportunity to attend individual modules as well as the IPDET program in summer. In addition to teaching, the Evaluation department at the ZUW is active in the field of research and also offers services to third parties, such as carrying out evaluations or providing consultations on the subject.

Continuing Education at the University of Bern

Continuing Education has become an important part of the University of Bern. Today, it is an area which comprises more than 100 continuing education degree programs (CAS, DAS, MAS), as well as a number of individual courses in almost all thematic fields. At the same time, Continuing Education makes an important contribution to the development and success of the university as a whole. It is a pioneer in terms of interdisciplinary approaches, provides a testing ground for new forms of teaching and learning, promotes the transfer of knowledge from academia into practice and, in turn, brings new stimuli from the working world into academia. It provides a valuable link to society and ensures that the university maintains a wide-ranging network with organizations and companies.

About the Author

Claudia Kaufmann is the Head of Communications of the Office of Continuing Education at the University of Bern.