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Evidence for Policy Making and Implementation

To address the twin challenges of poverty and inequality in a way that truly impacts on people’s lives, we need to develop more effective, appropriate policy responses and to direct and manage resources in more focused and efficient ways. Evidence must underpin our efforts to formulate, reform and evaluate policies and practices. This process of systematically harnessing the best available evidence to inform policy-making, called evidence for policy-making and implementation (EPM&I), is internationally advocated for its potential to contribute to more effective policy and implementation.

As policy development has evolved in a democratic South Africa, the need has arisen to feed more evidence into the policy development and implementation processes. Evidence needs to be made an integral part of the decision-making around policies from the outset, and throughout, the policy cycle.

This course focuses on building the capacity of policy-makers to analyse and use evidence to make strong decisions about policies, programmes, services and budgets. This involves the ability to identify relevant evidence to generate a full understanding the nature of the problem under scrutiny through (including how the problem has been addressed elsewhere and the cost, benefit and effectiveness of proposed interventions), and the ability to situate evidence in relation to additional elements that influence policy- and decision-making processes (such as institutional contexts, analytical skills and political support). The course further provides a set of tools as well as links with researchers in order to support policy-makers in their journey to transform policy into action.


The programme

The course is presented in collaboration with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME).

Ten successful iterations have been delivered between 2013 and 2018. The course alumni comprises 366 senior government officials; 11 Director Generals, 84 Deputy Director Generals, 126 Chief Directors, and 54 Directors, amongst others.

The course has catalysed various actions to embed the use of evidence in policy processes, spurred evaluation processes and generated a greater awareness of and enthusiasm for the use of evidence in a number of departments.

The course unpacks the different influences on policy-making and implementation processes (facts, experiences, expertise, judgement, politics and institutional capacity) and the ways in which evidence can be incorporated into the management process. It analyses different types of evidence and their usefulness in different arenas. The course is very practical, using case studies and drawing on participants’ experiences, as well as global thinking and best practice.


The programme explores the following thematic areas:

Participants are also exposed to various experts from academic institutions, government departments, international organizations and community based organizations. Take a look at the biographies of some of our key speakers.



What do participants gain from attending the course?

1.  An understanding of the factors that influence policy and implementation processes and the difference between evidence and opinion

2.  An understanding of the reason for, and the method of constructing, a theory of change

3.  An understanding of how the use of evidence can improve the performance of leaders and departments as well as the implementation and impact of policies

4.  An opportunity to reflect on existing policy-making and management processes, their strengths and limitations

5.  An understanding of tools for evidence-based policy-making and implementation

6.  An understanding of the role of evidence in managing political and other influences on the policy and implementation process.


Who should attend the course?

This executive course targets strategic leaders and top managers in the public service. It is designed to assist participants to use evidence to make well informed decisions about policies, programmes, projects and services and to improve government’s impact on society.


What previous participants liked about the course

“The course enabled me to see the gaps in the work that I am currently doing and going back home I will be able to plug the gaps and even to strengthen the areas that are working every well.”

“This is an informative and interesting course worthy to be pursued by both managers and public representatives to ensure common understanding with regards to policy planning.”

“It is good to see that there are different sources of evidence available and one does not need to recreate as there is a whole body of knowledge out there that we need to tap into doing our every day work.”

“This course is very useful in helping delegates to have an in depth understanding of policy making process.”

“Being able to take time out and just learn.”


Take a look at what some participants had to say about their experience at the course: