Prioritizing Professional Development
There is so much going on here in the field, and a large part of that is program metrics, which Gaby mentioned in the last M&E blog. But I want to hold off on writing about those for a bit and discuss something that I feel is as equally exciting and important: professional development.
We began training as Foundation Team Seven (FT7) back in the States this past August. We were all excited about getting to Kuria, Kenya and starting our work. For some of us it was our first trip, but others had worked with Nuru in Kenya multiple times. One of the things I found most interesting was that we spent just as much time discussing our planned exit of Kenya (after five years) as we did about going there. Not just FT7 leaving, but the western staff as a whole.
Leadership is obviously a large part of the Nuru model and an important part of how we plan on being able to exit confidently and successfully; but another extremely important part is professional development. For the programs here in Kenya, professional development means training and equiping the Kenyan Program Leaders and Field Mangers, so they can continue to maintain, innovate and scale the program once we are gone.
For the Foundation Teams, time goes by faster than you would realize. There is so much we hope to accomplish during our seven-month rotation. It’s easy to get into the mentality of “ if I want it done right and quick, I just need to do it myself.” But there is just no place for that line of thinking here. The M&E team admittedly accomplish tasks a bit slower than we’d like, but in doing so, Rogonga Augustine, Nuru Kenya M&E Program Leader, and our Field Managers can learn and practice every step of a new process as we perform it.
The M&E team is trained on more than just the current tasks and assessment they perform as part of their job responsibilities. Each week we have an office day where meet as a team to debrief from the previous week, strategize for the week ahead, practice and learn new computer skills, and learn more about M&E. We dedicate part of the office day to learning new M&E techniques form a host of different professional organizations such as AMREF, IFAD, and MEASURE Evaluation to name a few. The M&E team is taking time to learn the very foundation of monitoring and evaluation. We are also learning some the most commonly used practices in the M&E field. We take time to brainstorm through the topics and practices we’ve learned, so we can determine how they might possibly used by Nuru or how we may be able to iterate on a technique.
The steps we take and the time we dedicate to professional development helps to ensure that when the western staff leave Kenya, the programs will not only continue to operate as usual, but they will truly thrive. Ultimately by professionally developing our Kenyan staff, we ensure they will be prepared to stay in the fight and lead their families, neighbors and communities out of extreme poverty.