Scent of agarbattis lingered after the elaborate inaugural ceremony at the office. We were huddled in a workshop on Program Theory. I love structured models and was intrigued by concepts such as theory of change, outcome chains, theory of action and outcome evaluation. I learned that in the absence of a structured theory of change, it is difficult to evaluate if the outcomes were the result of my actions. We discussed how to develop a theory of change to improve leadership of School Principals. Soon we had a draft, or so we believed that Monday.
Three months later, I was standing at the threshold of a classroom in Goa. The School Principal was explaining how she had seated children based on learning levels. High on right, low on left. The teachers could then adapt teaching methods based on student readiness. This was her theory of change. I asked her how did she assess if it worked. She grumbled how hard it was to collect and analyse data and led us to the next classroom.
Goa has 827 Government schools. There must be a thousand such theories of change across them, relevant to local context, better than what we drafted in our office. Do I need to design more change programs or share better tools that they can use to realise the change they want to see? Tools to plan, to train, to implement, to evaluate? Which tools are most relevant? I believe Michelangelo needed a mallet and chisels to show what he could see.