Written by Mekong Institute

This report evaluates the third MI course on poverty reduction: “Policy Interventions for GMSPoverty Reduction” funded by both Asian Development Bank and New Zealand Agency for International Development. The course was conducted at MIfrom 25 August to 19 September 2003.

The course was organised to improve knowledge and skill of government officials, experts, practitioners and civil society personnel. The course covered formulating, refining and adjusting poverty reduction strategies and interventions, planning and implementing poverty reduction programs/ projects, and monitoring and evaluting poverty impacts. It was also aimed to promote regional cooperation and foster a professional network among course participants in poverty reduction.   

Twenty-nine public sector personnel from the six GMScountries attended this course. Of them, five work wth research institutios, one with a bank, and the remaining with government agencies. The course achieved adequate representation of women participants at 45% of the total.

The course comprised 5 modules, constructed along the ADB poverty reduction framework. It involved poverty concepts,measurement and analysis; framework, strategy and interventions for poerty reduction; how to develop a poverty reduction strategy and interventions; and how to monitor and evaluate poerty impacts. 50-58% participans considered them as “useful and interesting”.

Five experienced experts taught this course, one additional expert gave a guest presentation. In addition, two Engish instructors provided necessary language support required for course teaching. All the module presenters recieved good training from participants.

Course activities used for this course included lectures, class discussion, case studies, guest presentation, field research visits, on site English training, coaching on presentation and Internet navigation, and social and cultural activities. Both presenters and participants considered these activities as helpful, though their ratings varied across the activities. For example, the end of coure survey recorded 75% participants considered lectures as “very helpful”. Figures for class suggest that most of the course activities are effective and useful, while it is neccessary to further encourage an active, participatory approach to teaching and learning.

As a result of both dedication of the resource persons and effectie course activities/ methods and organisation and administration, this course was successful in achieving its four general objectives (p. 8 of this report) and module specific objectives set out in the course design statement.

i) Overall, 61% participants were very satisfied with the course , another 39% satisfied. The rate is higher than the second MI course on poverty but lower than the first.

ii) 33-71% participants (varying significantly across modules, same thereafter) indicated they gained “a lot of ” knowledge from this course, while 29-67% participants gaind “some” knowledge.

iii) 29-46% participants thought they could easily use skills for poverty analysis and the development of poverty strategy, interventions and programs, while majority (around 65%) of participants could use “some” skills learnt.

iv) 47.5% participants held that their English skills improved “a lot”; while another 28.8% partcipants, ” a little”.

v) 75% participants made “many” friends during the course. 35% participants fostered “many professional contacts” with their fellow participants and presenters; 60% participants, some contacts. The course helped promote GMS cooperation and develop a professional network for effective responses to poverty issues.

The course also provided an excellent opportunity for MI to reflect on its course organisation. This reflection is summarised in Section 9 of this report, and is recommendation from both presenters and participants. The recommendations are on modules and topics, course delivery, course activities and methods, programming or course time arrangement, Enlish language training, and so on. Some of these recommendations have been taken into account for the course afterwards and is a reference for organising future courses.

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