The Missing Factor Forum Report


The Missing Factor Forum Report

A cross organisational workshop

hosted by Feed the Minds

Cover13th April 2015

This report draws on the notes, observations and group work from participants of the forum “Self-esteem: the missing factor” on April 13th 2015, hosted by Feed the Minds.

This cross-organisational workshop was inspired by the Education and Rights project in partnership with Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM), supported by the Baring-Ellerman Foundation.

Feed the Minds is grateful to presenters, participants and our donor, the Baring-Ellerman Foundation, for such a rich and stimulating discussion.

Front cover illustration and line drawings by Anne Wilson

Feed the Minds

The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR



Introduction / 4
Speaker Profiles / 5
Group Work Discussions / 8
Self – esteem reflections / 11
Looking forward / 13
Final thoughts / 14
Participants / 15


On Monday 13th April 2015, Feed the Minds hosted a forum to explore how self-esteem fits into development models that support marginalised groups to be more active change agents. Participants were invited to explore the place of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-awareness in their own work. Invited panel speakers from SIL International, LifeLine Network International (LNI), Plan International and Tools for Self Reliance through presentation explored the value of building self-esteem in community development initiatives, this included sharing their own project findings. Finally we looked at the extent to which self-esteem fits into current models of outcome measurements and impact assessments. Knowing that donors are looking for more tangible aspects that show change in people’s lives challenges NGO’s to push the boundaries of conventional development models.

As Feed the Minds becomes more accomplished in evaluating the impact of our work, we have noticed the frequency with which stakeholders refer to increases in self-esteem and self-confidence.

“Before learning about citizenship, I did not know my rights. Now I know my rights and can talk about it to my friends. I even have good ideas on how to improve services in Mundri town and the confidence to express them.” Joanna Benjamin, Baya Adult Literacy Centre
The training on civic education and conflict resolution/mediation has helped us to respect individual rights, particularly women and treat everybody equally. And this training has enabled me to speak in public.” Abraham Choti, Army Barracks, Mundri
“[the training] is very interesting because it uses a participatory approach that makes learning alive and gives learners the freedom to express themselves instead of teaching or lecturing”.
Assistant Director of Republic of South Sudan’s
Curriculum Development Centre

These examples come from our work with Sudanese Evangelical Mission (SEM) in South Sudan on education and rights, generously funded by the Baring-Ellerman Foundation. These changes to people’s confidence seem to be key factors enabling people to use new knowledge and skills to make positive change around them, yet we rarely mention them, preferring to focus on more measurable, objective indicators of success.

This forum was an opportunity to share experiences around self-esteem and self-confidence with others working in community development, challenging ourselves to ask how self-esteem fits into community development initiatives, outcome measurement and impact assessment.

Panel Speakers

Lifeline Network PJ Cole and Harriet Labouchere

Lifeline Network is a growing and dynamic group of grassroot community organisations and NGOs based in 16 countries around the world. They help rebuild communities through exchanging knowledge, expertise and resources. All Network members have come together to fight the poverty, injustice and hardship that afflicts our world. The network of partnerships built to empower people locally, nationally and globally, by building a better, self-sustaining future for themselves and for their children is at the core of their work. In today’s forum, PJ Cole and Harriet Labouchere will engage us in thought-provoking examples, activities and exercises that will explore; what self-esteem really means to us and to our organisations, why it matters, and does it make a difference? In particular they will look from an organisational aspect, on how we position ourselves and incorporate self-esteem in our values, our work, and our projects.

Key points raised during PJ’s and Harriet’s presentation:

·  Self-esteem is realising your true potential

·  As an organisation we can facilitate this true potential

·  How do you hold a vision for someone?

·  The focus was on ‘Hold a Vision’ this way we can build self-esteem of those we work with ‘we can see the value of those and hold on to it’

SIL International Ian Cheffy

Ian is a Senior Literacy and Education Consultant with SIL International, the international NGO specialising in the study and development of the world's unwritten languages. He has worked in literacy for almost 25 years. Although now based in the UK, he spent 10 years working in Cameroon as a literacy specialist, initially assisting one language community to develop a literacy programme for children and adults and subsequently setting up a training centre for local people in literacy and translation work. Ian is currently undertaking a research project in seven African countries exploring the changes which have come about for people and their communities as a result of literacy in local languages. Ian will be looking today at the importance of recognising ‘self-esteem’ as one of the significant outcomes of literacy initiatives, especially in the minds of speakers of minority languages. He will draw on examples from his recent research in Ethiopia, Kenya and Cameroon.

Key points raised during Ian’s presentation:

·  A focus on language development

·  Sense of self can be created from your own language, not from ‘English a borrowed language’ for many we work with.

·  Image of oneself grows with confidence.

·  The word ‘transform’ should be taken lightly – an individual may feel different about themselves – no longer vulnerable. The individual grows not only within themselves but within a unit.

·  Literacy is a direct effect on people’s self-esteem.

Plan international Alex Munive

Alex is a development and gender specialist. Currently, he works for Plan International leading the Global Girls Innovation Programme (the GGIP). The GGIP is a collection of Plan’s flagship programmes on girls’ empowerment and rights that are known for quality programming, innovation, and results. Most recently, Mr. Munive has been participating in the development and roll out of Plan’s global initiative for promoting gender equality, “Because I am Girl”, developing, among others, a curriculum for engaging men and boys in the promotion of girl rights and a curriculum for adolescent girls. Alex will be talking today about one of Plan’s flagship approaches that aims to raise the profile of girls in school and as active citizens in their communities. He will take a particular focus on both boys’ and girls’ journeys to change and how empowerment is only sustainable when it is supported by simultaneous change in agency, relationships and structures.

Key points from Alex’s presentation:

·  The use of sport to build self-esteem

·  When talking about self-esteem, one must make underline the importance of agency.

·  Girls’ empowerment and gender equality are inter-dependent: one can’t exist without the other.

·  It is vital to engage both men and boys and acknowledge the entrenched traditional views of masculinity to understand both how girls feel and experience inequality, as well as boys attitudes, is key for defining the vision of change and how change comes about in practice.

·  Plan’s Curriculum links to specific KAPs, each activity is designed to be lined to a KAP. Therefore each component will be developed around a set of key statements on knowledge, attitudes, and practices and skills at each level of change (Individual, family/community and institutional)

Tools for Self Reliance Sarah Ingleby

Sarah started working at Tools for Self Reliance in 2001. After a short career as a teacher in Doncaster, she headed to Zambia as a VSO volunteer. There she worked with the National Sports Council and for 2 disability organisations who made mobility aids. Her first job at Tools for Self Reliance was Group Support Officer. After a few years she moved into one of the Partnership Development posts where she worked with their partners in Sierra Leone and Tanzania and was instrumental in setting up a new programme in Zambia. In between work and trips to Africa Sarah completed a MSc in Development Management. Sarah was promoted to CEO in. Today Sarah will be drawing on TFSR experience of ‘self-esteem’ within their projects and its effect on its beneficiaries.

Key points from Sarah’s presentation:

·  Defining self-esteem - confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect

·  Drawing on examples for TFSL partners – ‘We are no longer just housewives, now we are also breadwinners’.

·  An emphasis on creating a catalyst to push donors to recognise the importance of self-esteem.

·  To develop knowledge and measuring expertise of self-esteem ‘we should not shy away from it’

·  The people who take part in their projects inform TSFL;

o  They feel that they had grown in confidence and have greater self esteem

o  They have a more positive outlook on life, compared to before the project

o  They now feel more confident to play an active role in their communities – including offering training to others

Group Discussion

Key questions and queries that arose from group discussions

·  What would the monitoring and evaluating indicators be for self-esteem?

·  What backlash could be experienced developing such indicators?

·  Is it easier to measure capacity than value?

·  Values are culturally varied and contextualized, how does this affect across the board measurement?

·  The effect of hostile environments

·  What is the definition of self-esteem?

·  How does self-esteem differ at an individual level and community level?

·  Is self-esteem an end in itself?

·  What are barriers and expectations?

·  How participatory are we prepared to be?

·  Does it boil down to whose vision, when defining and measuring self-esteem?

The issue of developing indicators used to measure self-esteem

·  The journey to achieving self-esteem is not linear – and having self-esteem is not as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Self-esteem can be experienced on difference scales and can jump backwards and forwards according to the person’s experiences and circumstances changing over time. Gaining self-esteem may not necessarily cause a ‘transformation’ which donors or organisations might wish to see, but it could simply be progress, in one direction or another. This has implications for developing indicators. A small change in someone’s perception of themselves might look petty on a monitoring and evaluation form, but it may have made an enormous difference personally or at the family level.

o  Additionally, we discussed the problem of attributing change in self-esteem to interventions that aimed to do so, when it is impossible to control other factors that can potentially increase self-esteem, such as increase in income, etc.

·  Plan International’s matrix tool for measuring change in confidence regarding gender equality provided a good framework for considering how to build a tool that measures changes in self-esteem. We discussed how indicators could be considered for the knowledge, attitude and practise rows of the matrix, on personal, family and community levels.

o  But first, defining self-esteem would be essential. Self-esteem is a very fluid concept, and can be interpreted in different ways. It can also mean different things to different people on a personal level. One suggestion for the matrix above was to ask the people being interviewed of what they valued in their lives, and use questions around how satisfied or confident they felt about their achievement or success in things that were important to them to determine what self-esteem is to them.

·  We discussed the notion that self-esteem can also be caused by realising how others value you. For example, project beneficiaries stated that they gained enormous satisfaction when they became valued members of their communities, and people looked up to and respected them, or valued their contribution and potential. Realising how others perceive you can positively reinforce how much you value yourself. We discussed the possibility of measuring one’s role and influence in the community, and your power to change people’s perceptions of you through actions or change in behaviour.

How can organisations model appreciative and participative ways of working rather than using deficit models.

The main hurdle was felt to be donors’ requirements for quantitative measures against which programmes will be evaluated. Rise in self-esteem as a result of a programme is not easily quantifiable and therefore may not be accepted by donors as a viable goal. Some recommended responses are:

·  Educating donors to the value of raising self-esteem as an important goal of a programme. This would involve dialogue with the donors and might involve requesting funding for an initial period in which a vision for the programme would be developed in a participatory way with local people. Only then would a final be proposed. It was also suggested that previous research and experiences of the organisation could also be used in developing the vision.

·  Including qualitative and quantitative information in reports since mixed research designs are now more acceptable. A positive change in self-esteem as, described by the people themselves, is evidence of change that can be attributed to a programme and should also be included in reports. Furthermore, it is possible to give an impression of the percentage of people who report a development of self-esteem, making it somewhat quantitative if necessary.

·  Using the ‘lessons learned’ section which is often included in feedback forms to talk about how the programme has affected people’s self-esteem and how programmes can make provision for this at the outset.

·  Making provisions for longer term feedback which can track some of the changes to people lives and self-esteem well after the programme has ended.

·  Making self-esteem part of the organisation’s theory of change so that it is an integral part of what the organisation is about and not an ‘add on’ to what is considered to be donor requirement for funding.