How Monitoring and Evaluation Is Taught in MPH Programs Around the World

A recent review of how monitoring and evaluation is taught in masters of public health programs globally follows a continuing trend from knowledge-based learning to competency-based learning.

Hemali
Hemali Kulatilaka, MSc, MPA is a senior technical specialist for capacity building with MEASURE Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a co-author of a review of monitoring and evaluation teaching in Masters of Public Health programs globally.
DELHI, India—A recent review of how monitoring and evaluation is taught in masters of public health programs globally follows a continuing trend from knowledge-based learning to competency-based learning. The idea is that identifying specific skills, and basing curricula around those skills, is crucial to preparing students to address the complex monitoring challenges of the 21st century.

This review, conducted by MEASURE Evaluation and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) has published its findings in Frontiers in Public Health, a journal on the most effective methods for instruction related to public health. Of particular value is the discussion of the most essential skills that a public health graduate should have in monitoring and evaluation (M&E). Examples included (1) determining the need for conducting program evaluation, (2) designing an evaluation, and (3) interpreting results of an evaluation. The authors also note that while many masters of public health (MPH) courses included working in groups on projects, only one-third of them included practical experience as a competency.

The review identified 321 universities offering masters programs across 194 countries. Of the 321 universities, 88 offered an MPH and 95 taught M&E. Reviewing how M&E is taught across countries provided important insight into M&E education, including common components and areas of need. For example, authors identified the need to identify best practices for tailoring content to context. 

Results of the desk review were shared initially in 2013 at a consultative meeting of South Asian institutions in New Delhi, along with more details regarding 10 institutions in the region. These findings also were combined with the results of an M&E competency-development exercise facilitated by the Global Evaluation and Monitoring Network for Health (GEMNet-Health) and its member institutions. From these inputs, the group agreed on the 10 core competencies for M&E education within their MPH programs. The full list of competencies is reported in the paper.

Professor Zodpey, vice-president for academics at PHFI, notes that this process helped PHFI incorporate a competency-driven approach in M&E teaching in their Masters-level program.

This effort highlights several important characteristics of MEASURE Evaluation’s support for postgraduate-level education in M&E: (1) adopting a competency-based approach to curriculum development; (2) drawing on regional and global best practices; (3) facilitating collaboration among institutions; and (4) recognition of the need for regional, national, and local adaptation and customization of generic curricula.

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MEASURE Evaluation is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and has worked for years with regional training institutions to offer a range of interventions to strengthen masters-level training—including limited fellowships, curriculum development, and training of trainers programs to strengthen the capacity of faculty at universities and other training institutions. Since 2012, much of this work has been accomplished through GEMNet-Health. PHFI is a member of GEMNet-Health. It offers an MPH and supports regional efforts on MPH programs.