Evaluate This

Although evaluation has taken  place for a long time in foreign aid, it is often self-evaluation, using reports from the same people who implemented the project. My students at NYU would not study very hard if I gave them the right to assign themselves their own grade.

William Easterly – What Can Foreign Aid Do For the World’s Poor?

In the Peace Corps the evaluation of your work consists of you telling the higher powers what you have been doing every six months. You fill out an electronic volunteer reporting form which is a messy mix of qualitative and quantitative questions e.g what goals did you achieve? how many people benefited?

There is no checking up on what you write; if you say your work is successful and affects a lot of people beneficially no one is going to contradict you. Not to say I have lied on the form, but it would not be hard to and get away with it, and it is very tempting to portray yourself as an incredibly hard working and successful volunteer, both for your own ego and to keep the bosses happy. If no one knows otherwise and no one has any desire to scrutinize and criticize your work, of course any individuals temptation is to give themselves a big fat pat on the back and congratulate themselves on a job well done. Scrutiny, criticism, and accountability are sadly absent from the evaluation process. I suppose I am scrutinizing the process too harshly – I’m not an employee, Peace Corps is not an Aid agency – but it is still an organisation which has a huge operating budget and I really do wish it accordingly acted a bit more professionally.

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