PRACTICES OF EVIDENCE-INFORMED DECISION-MAKING: SHORT LEARNING PROGRAMME

Africa has much to gain from using high-quality evidence to inform decisions about development and the Africa we want. Appropriate policies, plans, strategies, interventions, and their implementation informed by evidence not only increases effectiveness but also reduces waste and avoids harm, increases accountability and transparency, and enhances social justice and equity. And whilst Africa has world-leading expertise in evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM), this has not yet translated into widespread real-world evidence use across our continent in all sectors. 

 At the Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE) we have developed a short learning programme to enhance the knowledge, skills and values of those with an interest in, and working in the EIDM field. ACE is uniquely positioned to make a holistic and comprehensive contribution to this field because of our unique combination of evidence synthesis methodologies, valuing and practicing the crucial role of relationships and networks in EIDM, extensive experience in strengthening capacities for EIDM, and researching the art and science of evidence-use. We are not aware of other course offerings that take a systems lens to EIDM. 

 Further, the short learning programme we offer on ‘Practices of Evidence-Informed Decision-Making’ is one of very few certificate programmes that are not exclusively focused on the health sector. Our course gives attention to EIDM for all role-players at all levels and across all sectors, whether social policy, education, environment, health, justice, etc. 

 And lastly, our course is unique in its approach to learning; we follow a social learning approach. This means that as facilitators and course participants we learn from and with one another. We engage with content, with one another and with course facilitators to make sense and meaning together. The active engagement of everyone is therefore crucial to our individual and collective learning in this course.  

Here, we anticipate and answer some questions you might have about the short learning programme. Of course, if we don’t answer all your questions, please send us an email at ace@uj.ac.za. 

WHO IS THIS SHORT LEARNING PROGRAMME DESIGNED FOR?
Our short learning programme aims to attract mid-level and higher government officials, practitioners, and researchers interested in the use of evidence for decision-making in any sector (e.g., health, social development, environment) and area of activity (e.g., project/programme management, knowledge management, M&E). A course participant must have completed an NQF level 8 qualification; this is equivalent to a postgraduate qualification (Honours degree in South Africa) or a four-year degree. 

HOW WILL THIS SHORT LEARNING PROGRAMME BENEFIT ME AS A PARTICIPANT?
The course is designed to have direct relevance to the delivery of South Africa’s National Development Plan, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the global Sustainable Development Goals. It is focused on Africa-centred processes, actors, and activities. It embraces the complexity and non-linear nature of research-to-decision-to-action processes, unpacking the interfaces into relevant principles, processes, and practices for application to the real-world every day challenges faced by those working in African contexts. As a participant, you will thus enhance your personal and professional skills, and valuing and understanding for not only more effective, efficient, and moral evidence-use processes and practices but also personal career advancement. You will be equipped to engage with others about the moral imperative for EIDM and the practices of evidence-use for real-world settings. 

Not only will you gain knowledge, skills and values that are crucial for the practices of EIDM, due to the social learning approach in the course, you will also build connections with other course participants from across the African evidence ecosystem. And on completion of the course, you will become a member of our community of practice, and thus join the Evidence Family, where we continue to share and learn together about EIDM. You will then finish this course with a network of like-minded people equally dedicated to the cause of EIDM to draw on when you apply all you’ve gained in your workplace.  

 WHAT CONTENT IS COVERED IN THE SHORT LEARNING PROGRAMME?  
The content is structured to provide sufficient exposure to the theory and practices of evidence-use in decision-making. It will cover: 

  • What is EIDM, the principles of EIDM and the motivations for EIDM 
  • Histories and trends in EIDM 
  • Mechanisms of evidence use (i.e., the science of using science) 
  • What counts as evidence, and the value of evidence synthesis 
  • Nature and types of decisions 
  • The centrality of relationships in EIDM (including evidence ecosystems, networks, communities of practices, and collaboration) 
  • The role of capacity-sharing and co-creation in enhancing EIDM and evidence ecosystems 
  • Measuring EIDM 

HOW IS THE COURSE DELIVERED?
This course will be delivered fully online in 2022, over a 14-weeks period, starting from 22 March until 1 July. Both synchronous and asynchronous online engagements are part of the course.   

HOW WILL I BE ASSESSED?
The course follows an integrated project-based assessment approach that combines a variety of formative and summative assessments. The end-product is an evidence use plan produced by each participant for a context of their choices (whether work, advocacy, association, other personal). For South African government participants elements of their evidence use plan will draw on key aspects of the socio-economic impact assessments (SEIAs), a requirement for all submission made to government executives (al national, regional and local levels). 

HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I COMMIT WEEKLY? 
Course participants should prepare to spend between seven and ten hours weekly (I.e., a maximum of 2 hours per weekday) on the course and its activities.   

COST TO REGISTER FOR THIS SHORT LEARNING PROGRAMME? 
The cost for this 14-weeks course – and becoming part of the Evidence Family – is R16 000. Limited bursaries are available; enquire at cvanrooyen@uj.ac.za.  

READY TO REGISTER? 
Email us at ace[at]uj.ac.za for registration details.