Over four months in 2021, a team of external evaluators carried out the first impact evaluation of the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) in Africa, Earthworm’s flagship training programme for social practitioners that inspired the establishment of additional CSEs in Indonesia and Latin America.
The evaluation was carried out by a five-person team led by Dr. Tanya Murphy. It incorporates feedback and input from 174 surveys and interview responses conducted online and during field visits in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. The effort sought to understand how the program has impacted companies, communities, and the CSE’s alumni themselves, and to identify options for improving the CSE. The results of the study, made possible with funding from UK aid from the UK government, include an Impact Report and five individual case studies of CSE alumni impact.
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Since its founding in 2008, the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) Africa has provided best-in-class training to nearly 200 professionals from 16 African countries. This includes 84 graduates of the CSE’s flagship 10-month Long Course who have gone on to influence company-community relations, workers’ rights, and stakeholder engagement practices from the field level to company boardrooms in a variety of sectors.
The value and impact of well-trained CSE graduates stand out for many of the company leaders interviewed.
One company employer of CSE graduates in the Ivorian palm oil sector remarked, “There is a lack of vision among others who have not been trained at the CSE. Indeed, former CSE students propose solutions that are often appropriate, validate them and implement them, whereas others wait for guidance from the management, and sometimes do not implement them effectively.”
The evaluation revealed that a large majority of CSE long course graduates report establishing or influencing social programs, tools or protocols. They typically work for companies that manage 4,000 - 400,000 ha and impact between 5,000 and 1 million community members. Twenty-five CSE Africa long course alumni report participating in FPIC processes involving more than 200,000 community members. The insights and ideas from the evaluation are timely as the CSE is expanding its reach and impact this year with its first long course focused on participatory development aimed at protecting and enhancing human rights in Guinea’s Boké bauxite mining region.
About the CSE: The Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) is a strategic programme of Earthworm Foundation. CSE’s mission is to create an enabling environment for social harmony and realised human rights by equipping companies, civil society, and governments with well-trained social practitioners from the regions where they operate. It mobilises diverse social experts who have real-world experience addressing social issues to design and teach courses to students on the front lines of company-community interactions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. CSE’s Africa training centre is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon.