Evaluation of SAIH's Norec Exchange Programme
Paeradigms evaluated the “Students’ rights, academic freedom and equitable higher education” programme, which is a combination of North-South, SouthSouth and South-North solidarity exchanges. It aims to strengthen student engagement around education rights and academic freedom.
SAIH / Norec
Evaluation & Monitoring l Higher Education I Student Mobility
Norway - Zambia - Zimbabwe - South Africa
_The “Students’ rights, academic freedom and equitable higher education” exchange programme is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec) and managed by the Norwegian Students and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH). The programme is a combination of North-South, South-South and South-North solidarity exchanges that aims to strengthen student engagement around education rights and academic freedom. Exchange participants are young people from SAIH, Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) in Zimbabwe, Equal Education (EE) in South Africa, and Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) in Zambia.
_Paeradigms was commissioned in June 2021 to conduct an evaluation of the exchange programme (2015-2018 and 2018-2021) regarding its impact, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, relevance, value addition, strategies, and learning. The evaluation proceeded on four levels:
(1) Identify the relevance and effectiveness of the exchange programme and whether the objectives are aligned with the needs of each partner.
(2) Identify the value and results of the exchange programme at different levels: individual, organisation and society.
(3) Identify results deriving from the exchange programme activities in line with the overall expected outputs, outcomes, and results framework.
(4) Provide recommendations and input to a new agreement, addressing challenges in all partner countries.
_The Paeradigms evaluation team adopted a theory-based approach that relied on an explicit theory of change, which depicted how the interventions supported are expected to contribute to a series of results (outputs and outcomes) that should lead to the overall goal of the project.
_The evaluation team carried out an in-depth desk review and interviews with programme participants, staff from partner organisations and Norec coordinators, employing a participatory evaluation approach. They also gathered Most Significant Change (MSC) stories from selected programme participants.
_Two of the three evaluators where based in Southern Africa ensuring rich contextual knowledge. Due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Paeradigms experts worked primarily remotely with some exceptions.
_On the first level, relevance and effectiveness, results from the evaluation revealed that the exchange programme has significantly contributed to the development of the individual programme participants, the host organisations, and their different countries. This significant contribution entails knowledge, experience, cultural exchange, opening spaces for student activism, and collaboration with various actors at national, regional, and international levels.
_In terms of value and results, the evaluation found that partners assess their partnership with SAIH positively. The relationships are based on high levels of mutual trust in which mutual learning is possible and appears to be taking place. Generally, partners in all three countries see value added through their partnerships with SAIH, particularly in reference to networking and capacity development.
_At the output level, all partners – though some more than others – have been able to work towards their planned outputs. When faced with external challenges, they have often been able to adapt their activities in close coordination with SAIH. The main outcomes of the exchange programme are increased exchange among partner organisations, increased networking with national civil society organisations, and increased research outputs on academic freedom, human rights, and related issues; and increased advocacy inputs and outputs.