Once there is an accurate baseline, it is possible to watch the progress of implementation and measure changes as they occur. Watching the project as it is happening, or monitoring, allows for programmatic changes to be made immediately if a particular strategy is not working as initially intended. Monitoring is the on-going and systematic collection and analysis of data related to specific indicators. An indicator is a quantitative or qualitative factor or variable that provides a simple and reliable means to measure achievement or to reflect the changes connected with an intervention. Indicators are compared over time in order to assess change. Monitoring provides information on the extent of progress to achieve intended objectives and the appropriate utilization of inputs.
The monitoring process usually focuses on outputs, or the most immediate results of activities; for example, did the training workshop occur as planned? Further on in the life of a programme, it will be possible to measure higher-level outcomes, or more substantial changes from implemented activities such as in behaviours, as a result of sustained programming and multiple activities.
Monitoring should be seen as a part of regular programming. Making site visits, checking reports and records, talking with staff, partners and community members are all monitoring activities. Documentation is essential, though it does not need to be overly burdensome.
In the sample programme logframe of a partnership between religious leaders and child rights organizations to address corporal punishment, there are indicators that specifically refer to outcomes one may wish to measure in partner attitude, knowledge and performance, the premise being that these will directly contribute to positive programme impact.
For example, see Result area 1.1: Religious communities demonstrate knowledge about the impact of corporal punishment on child development and well-being. At the beginning of the programme partnership, as part of the situational analysis, it will be necessary to understand how religious partners understand the issues around corporal punishment. Do they see it as ‘punishment’ or as a positive exercise that contributes to children’s proper development? Do they support only certain methods or its use in certain situations? Do they reject it outright?
One benefit of this is that it enables child rights actors to gauge how closely aligned (or not) the knowledge and attitudes are with evidence-based principles of good practice. It also provides better understanding of how the partners’ religious beliefs shape their understanding and practice, which will contribute to stronger, more creative and, in theory, more effective interventions.
There are different ways that knowledge, attitudes and behaviours can be assessed. Tools such as knowledge, attitude and practices surveys may be used. These require some technical skills and can be time-consuming. Focus group discussions are structured group interviews that can allow some more flexibility in subjects discussed. When planning any capacity-building intervention such as training that intends to build knowledge, it is very important to measure current knowledge on the issues to be addressed (a pre-test) and repeat the measure after the exercise (a post-test) to see any immediate changes in knowledge that can be attributed to the exercise.
Referring again to the logframe and Result area 1.2: Religious communities design and implement activities, once the proposed capacity-building is underway the programme calls for leadership of religious communities to apply what they have learned by incorporating accurate information into their work, such as worship services, education and counselling. They will also organize and facilitate discussions about corporal punishment within their communities. Child rights actors need to give their religious partners the room to develop messages and approaches in ways that are suited to their religious communities. However, monitoring of these activities will be crucial to ensure that:
For example, in a religious activity such as a worship service, the leader might set a time aside to discuss the negative impacts of corporal punishment. She or he might present accurate information (a positive output of capacity-building activities), but without prior consultation call a child up before the participants and ask her to share her experience of corporal punishment. Though this approach might be well intended, to give a voice to a child and take the discussion out of the abstract, it could be very embarrassing and painful for the child. This would indicate that not all of the information learned in the training was fully understood or internalized. By responding at once to this situation individually with the religious leader, the child rights actor can prevent its recurrence and support the leader’s efforts to become a stronger child advocate. Later measures of changed, positive behaviours on the part of the partner will reflect a successful outcome.
Some methods for monitoring the implementation of partners’ activities include directly observing activities and interviewing members of the community – including children and young people – about the content of presentations or discussions as they leave services, rites or festivals. This will provide information about the frequency of incorporation of the theme in regular religious activities, as well as community perceptions about the information and methods of dissemination.