Contact us: Kauthar.Hendricks@uct.ac.za

Lifetime achievement award for Org Psych Prof

Joha

This is the speech from Prof Theo Veldsman, Head of the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management at the University of Johannesburg.

“It is indeed a great privilege to introduce Prof Joha Louw-Potgieter as one of recipients of our Life Long Achievement Awards tonight…. As you know this Award is given to persons who have made a real difference over their academic career, and consequently have left the world a better place through their legacy.

Resources entrusted to others as stewards thereof have to be deployed with accountability, transparency, responsibility and wisely in order to have the intended outcome and impact. Not only in developed countries but even more so in emerging countries where resources are not only scarce but needs are vast, and the vying amongst stakeholder to have their needs satisfied – driven by the desire for a ‘better life’, usually as soon as possible – is furious, frequently arising out of life threating desperation.

The imperative to assess the effective, efficient and responsible deployment of entrusted resources relative to the intended desired outcome and impact, or not, in satisfying needs in an impartial, objective way is thus mission critical, not only for the intended direct beneficiaries but also for the parties owning and making the resources available. Especially in emerging counties being in the throes of fundamental, rapid social transformation where resources, and their deployment, relative to the overwhelming vastness of needs are at a premium.

The evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of resource deployment centres around the assessment of the need for a programme; its design, logic, and theoretical base; how it is being implemented/ has been implemented; an assessment of the program’s outcome or impact, positive/ negative, intended/ unintended; and its cost and efficiency. In short, it is about the evaluation of context, input, process and product in judging a programme’s value. The discipline embracing all of the aforesaid is Programme Evaluation (PE).

This is the space in which the pioneering contribution of Joha comes in. She was a pioneer in the field of IO Psychology in establishing PE as a formal, post-graduate academic discipline in South Africa. She first became involved in PE 1992 through the World Food Programme based in Rome at that time, when she was requested as a consultant to conduct a PE of a training programme they had developed for the World Food Programme. This consulting assignment convinced her of and converted her to the need for the formal evaluation of intervention programmes for the sake of social accountability and involvement. Also of the criticality of social advocacy and conscience roles.

After being appointed as Professor in 2003 at the University of Cape Town she took the brave step to set up the Institute for Monitoring and Evaluation, and under its auspices the development and implementation with international academic partnering of an one year masters and doctoral programme in PE in 2007, the first time ever in SA. At that time only University of Stellenbosch offered a qualification in PE but it was only post-graduate diploma. A formal research component was missing in the latter. Under the auspices of the Institute she set up short courses in PE are also offered and PE contract research done.

This post-graduate programme in PE is all about bridging seamlessly the gap between theory and practice, and making a real, lasting difference where research needs to matter: in organisations, communities, and society. For example, the masters mini-dissertation entails the evaluation of real life programmes requiring for students to work full time in the organisation’s whose programme are being assessed. Some of the PE research to date has covered the assessment of the effectiveness of child literacy programmes; the effectiveness of sport in child development; the effectiveness of universities’ extended academic programmes; nursery school Grade R effectiveness; and the effectiveness of upcoming farmers support programmes.

Students come from all sorts of disciplines such as psychology, social work, Economics and Accountancy from South Africa and the rest of Africa. To date 70 masters and 1 Ph D students have graduated from the academic programme. Graduates are working in NGO’s, the public sector, and donor organisation. Over this time PE as a formal organisational portfolio and discipline as an accepted way of doing things have become firmly established IN sa, especially in the public sector and NGO’s. For example, a number of years ago a Department of Planning, monitoring and Evaluation was set up in the SA Presidency.

The general acceptance as PE as a mission critical activity in an emerging economy like SA I would like to venture can in no small way be attributed to the pioneering work that Joha undertook over so many years. As a true academic leader she showed courage, passion, perseverance and future foresight. She has triggered and nourished the social consciousness for the need for an ongoing PE narrative in order to ensure that our scare resources are deployed effectively and efficiently in order to satisfy real stakeholder needs sustainably.

Joha, it is indeed a honour and privilege to bestow this evening on you the Lifelong Achievement Award of the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management. You have left a worthy, lasting legacy which leaves us and upcoming generations in better place. We salute you!!”

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