13 ASSET-H&C’s members are vocational schools in Tourism and Hospitality that provide training for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds across Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. As social projects with common mission to support job integration for the students, our member schools need, and have already practiced, different forms of impact evaluation systems for various operational activities, including but not limited to reporting, fundraising, and student recruitment.
To inspire and support members further on this progress, ASSET-H&C recently organized the first online Get-Together with the topic Alumni Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E).
In a casual atmosphere created by the energetic check-in and check-out games, as well as 3 breakout rooms to discuss on sub-topics, 17 staff members from 8 schools contributed to the 60-minute session with useful insights and exciting ideas to adapt and/or embark on.
Examples of Alumni M&E workflow and tools
The French Bakery (La Boulangerie Francaise Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam and Hospitality & Catering Training Center (HCTC) in Thailand took the lead to share why, when and how they are performing the alumni monitoring and evaluation activities. Võ Th? Qu? Chi, M&E Officer of IECD Southeast Asia, presented M&E workflow and tools she had been developing, as well as her insights in Alumni M&E for both projects.
“I think building an M&E framework is essential in centralizing alumni information. This framework corresponds to the project goals & objectives, and hence, is totally context-based, in which internal and external factors affecting the project’s success are reflected”, said Chi.
For members that have yet to develop a framework, Chi also suggested a step-by-step roadmap on developing one, starting from the needed measurements, commitments to donors, available resources, to possible uses of the results as well as choosing suitable frameworks.
Some members, who also joined in one of the three breakout groups, expressed their enthusiasm in receiving the 1:1 coaching offered by ASSET-H&C to either improve their existing system or build a new one.
Challenges and opportunities
Besides using the centralized data for reporting or pitching, Van Trinh V., Project Manager of The French Bakery (Vietnam) found the M&E system very useful for communication and marketing purposes via publishing a few impact highlights twice a year after the in-depth surveys.
“It is very challenging, and sometimes exhausting, to chase alumni for surveys every quarter. However, it was a great way for us to get in touch with them. There are some students who we thought we lost contact, as they did not respond in chat groups or calls, but with a survey of only one question, they suddenly all responded. 100%, what a relief!”, shared Van. These more practical aspects of doing monitoring and evaluation were discussed in one of the breakout groups.
With 300 alumni to follow up, Nuria Domingo – School Programme Manager from HCTC (Thailand) also shared the same challenges in chasing alumni for surveys. It is repetitive and quite overwhelming work for the staff and alumni to do follow-up surveys without knowing why they must do such “homework” after leaving the school.
HCTC, therefore, has been accelerating alumni activities to enhance the connection between the school and the alumni. Activities like organizing alumni dinners, facilitating Facebook groups, and practicing surveys with current students have been implemented to explain the importance of these follow-ups with alumni and educate current students.
While these activities are good for the response rate of the surveys, the activities, of course, benefit from something much bigger: a sense of community. The topic was lively discussed further in another breakout group during the Get Together. Member schools shared many different examples of alumni returning to schools to give back like giving inspiring speeches to current students. It is also important for alumni to know that the school can still be a place for them to turn to whenever they need help or advice.
Support to ASSET-H&C members
This first online Get-Together was the start of a series of further support for member schools in their M&E of alumni. ASSET-H&C and Võ Th? Qu? Chi, IECD’s M&E Officer, will offer 1:1 coaching to interested members. More follow-up sessions are likely to be organized with an aim to encourage connection among staff in charge of M&E Alumni in our network.
Strong relationships are built through frequent exchanges. As a network of 13 vocational schools in tourism, hospitality and catering in Southeast Asia, ASSET-H&C is always excited to facilitate meaningful connections and exchanges among our members to contribute to their progress as well as social impact.
With positive feedback from the attendees on the first Get-Together format, ASSET-H&C will continue to organize the next session in early May 2023.