3. Policy influence objectives
Identifying the change(s) you are targeting is an essential step to devise your policy engagement strategy. What are you trying to achieve? Where do your evaluation questions fit in the political context?
Your objective could be to enact/eliminate/change a specific law, but could be something entirely different. Is your objective about changing people’s perception or is it about changing their behaviour? Is it about setting an agenda by reframing the policy debate or creating pressure for change? Is it about building networks around a specific policy recommendation? Is it about developing capacity within organisations to allow them to understand and respond to an issue? Is it about changing institutions, such as influencing strategy and resource allocations within organisations? Or is it about changing a law?
Think about what change you would like to see as a result of your piece of research.
This blog post by Melissa Kelly from Save The Children describes how having very clear policy objectives helped to bring about practical and relevant policy change.
Abandoned by her family and severely malnourished, four-year-old Castera's story seemed destined for an unhappy ending.
But, this is where the plot changes. Taken in by Alda Mate, the strong, determined village chief of Machalucuane, and enrolled in Save the Children's supported early childhood education program, today Castera is a happy, curious second grader.
It was with children like Castera in mind that Save the Children began its early education program in rural Mozambique in 2008, one of the first rural programs in the country. Setting up preschools in 30 villages, we set out to help thousands of young children rewrite their futures through early education.
But what about the other one million preschool-aged children in Mozambique without access to early education? To reach them would require a national policy on early childhood education. How would we convince policymakers that early learning is a worthwhile investment when faced with so many different priorities?
We needed proof. However, there had been little evidence gathered on the benefits of early learning in Mozambique, yet alone in Africa. We had to start from scratch. In 2007, Save the Children partnered with the World Bank on a three year study, funded in part by 3ie, to show the benefits of early education over time, by comparing, through a randomized design, children in our preschool programs with children who were not enrolled. The study findings, released this week, are very encouraging. The impact evaluation shows that children who attended preschool programs run by Save the Children, were 24 percent more likely to enroll in primary school and were significantly better equipped to learn than children not covered by the program. Most importantly, children who participated in the program demonstrated improved cognitive, problem solving and social skills.
But with no prior roadmap on early childhood education in Mozambique, we had to take additional steps to change national policy.