By Junior Achievement Swaziland
One of the most important elements to incorporate in the running of programs is the monitoring and evaluating (M&E) process. This is where during the running of the programs, we monitor the progress made and concurrently measure the impact made through the implementation of these programs. At JA Swaziland, we have two ways in which we monitor and evaluate the running of our programs. The first and key way is through our M&E officer who conducts visits in the schools that we implement our programs in and capture the relevant data that will give the results of whether progress is being made or some improvements have to be made. This officer is very instrumental specifically in translating the data into numbers that gauge program uptake which we also use to communicate the impact made in our programs.
The second point of evaluation that we formulate in our institution is through certification ceremonies that we host for all programs to mark the end of the program. This platform provides open communication between the institution and the recipients of our programs where we evaluate the impact of our programs collectively. Today I would like us to specifically address the element of evaluation of our programs through the certification ceremonies that our institution conducted to mark the end of the JA company program for the year 2016. I managed to be a part of 5 certifications this year, however I will not give details on all of them, and I will just highlight a few of them that really captured my attention.
We visited St John Bosco High school for a certification ceremony. This is where we also give back the profits that the learners deposited into the student’s club account that JA set up to assist learners grasp the concept of banking. The learners made a profit of E550.00 which is to be shared equally among the shareholders of the mini company. The CEO of the mini company, Sakhile Dlamini explained that this program had a lot of impact in their lives as learners. “I know that my colleagues and I had the opportunity to learn about the basic concept of running a business and we appreciated the empowerment that we received through having to work for our own money. When I recall who I was before this program, I can confidently attests to the fact that my life has been transformed through the whole process. Having the opportunity to be a part of the Job Shadow program and learn about the world of work also went a long way to create motivation within me to work hard in my education in order for me to reach greater heights,” he concluded.
Eugene Johnson who is a teacher at St John Bosco and also facilitates the JA program congratulated the young people for reaching the final day of the program. “This day must be historic for you because it bore testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment you put forward to ensure that your business got off the ground. Along the journey, some of you gave up as the realization that starting up an enterprise is not easy. I believe your resilience has paid off as now you will enjoy the rewards of your labor and also enjoy the pleasure of having life skills on business that will be instrumental in securing a better life for you in future. I am extremely proud of you especially because you are still in business and I feel assured that you shall keep producing more charcoal to supply Save Rite whom you have built a business relationship with,” he said.
Mjingo High School was also visited for the certification ceremony. This group of young people managed to excel during the national Expo and are to represent the country in Zimbabwe at the prestigious regional competition. Their net profit that is to be divided according to share holding was a total sum of E4953.00. Holistically as a team, these young people had a lot to say on their lessons learnt for the duration of the program and further hope to gain a lot of exposure and valuable lessons as they proceed to the next stage of the competition. Neliswa Bhembe the mini company CEO, summarized the lessons learnt on behalf of the team in this manner; “As a team, we got to be exposed to the concept of self employment and how amazing it is to reap the rewards of hard work. Of course the idea of self employment is very challenging as sometimes as a team we would plan things only to find that things did not work out the way they were planned. We also learnt to be patient. In as much as now we have gained a lot of recognition for our product but it was not always the case, we had to struggle a lot to build our brand. We also learnt to leave friendships out of the business so that we can tackle issues amicably,” she said.
JA Swaziland had the honor of hosting the Africa Region Marketing and Communications Officer Maame Yankah, who was able to attend a certification ceremony at Vulamasango high School. She was extremely excited to hear from the young people as they explained the impact such programs have made in their lives. “It was such a magnificent experience to meet the young people who were so inspired by the idea of running their own mini enterprise in school. Our role as a Regional Office is to link all the program participants from different countries in a global network so that they may realize that they are part of a global platform through participation in our programs. It is therefore a journey worth pursuing as it not only exposes one to a global network but also to the global resources that young people can tap into. I encourage more young people to utilize such a lifetime opportunity that is being afforded to them,” she said.
JA is truly transforming young lives and we hope to share more success stories of young people who have experienced firsthand the transformation that being a part of our programs provides.