Youth-led Evaluation Guide

“Nothing about youth, without youth” is the motto of Oxfam Novib's youth team. They aim to put young people in the center of everything that they do, from project development to project evaluation. This article focuses on youth-led methodology in project evaluation.

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Youth-led evaluation is part of the Work in Progress! project, that started in 2016 in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. The project aims to support young people to create a sustainable income and to have a positive outlook on their future. The project is divided into 2 phases:

  • Phase 1 (2016-2019)- a final external evaluation was carried out by a team of youth evaluators in 2018.
  • Phase 2 (2020 -2023)-  Work in Progress is setting up a youth-led Mid Term Review by the end of 2021.

What is a youth-led evaluation?

A youth-led evaluation provides a space for young people to meaningfully participate and to contribute directly to the project objectives.

To have a youth-led evaluation means that young people are recruited, trained and supported so they can lead, design and implement an independent evaluation of the project. Having young people lead the evaluation, does not mean that youth are left to figure everything out by themselves. They are supported by a professional project staff and they get technical guidance.

Youth-led evaluation:

  • Youth have the opportunity to design evaluation questions, tools and methods.
  • Youth collect information from respondents.
  • Youth analyze the data.
  • Youth produce a final report or a product of their choice.

 Not a youth-led evaluation:

  • Youth give feedback on the data collection methodology and then collect data themselves.
  • Youth interview their peers based on a pre-designed methodology.
  • Youth participate as respondents during interviews.

Youth-led evaluation takes participatory approaches to the next level. Also, it is empowering for both the youth evaluators and the respondents. Often, youth are approached as recipients or beneficiaries. A youth-led evaluation does not do that, but empowers youth to take the lead. Likewise, showing respondents in the evaluation that we trust youth to take the lead, helps them to also see youth as valuable and contributing members of the project.

Pros and cons of youth-led evaluation

A youth-led evaluation offers unique advantages:

  • Work in Progress! is a project for youth. Having youth-evaluators on board means that the evaluation is done by the main focus group of the project. Nobody is more expert in the issues of youth than youth themselves. The same applies for example to a project focusing on women or children.
  • Since the youth-evaluators are part of the focus group (but not participating in the project themselves), they can relate to the respondents and have discussions with them based on equivalence.
  • Youth-led evaluation can be considered a project activity in itself: it teaches research and evaluation skills which may help young people to further their careers and build their CV. In that way, even the funds for evaluation are directed towards obtaining the project goals.
  • Youth bring fresh insights and concrete recommendations.
  • It is an innovative approach and provides an opportunity for learning and tailoring evaluation to better fit the interests and opinions of young people.

But be aware of:

  • The final product will probably not be an academic publication to be published in evaluation journals.
  • It is strongly recommended to engage project staff to implement the evaluation process (for example to facilitate trainings, assist in shaping evaluation questions, help to review collected data).

How about quality?

High-quality youth-led evaluation requires professional support and technical guidance throughout the process. This is not meant to limit young people’s leadership of the evaluation, but is intended to support the quality of research efforts.

Guide and contact

The Work in Progress! approach to youth-led evaluations consists of a 7-step process. This approach is described in a hands-on guide to help development practitioners to facilitate evaluations led by youth.