Understanding rural parenting practices – Investing in Children and their Societies' (ICS) 'Skilful Parenting' project (Siem Reap, Cambodia)


A narrative based evaluation tool, Sensemaker™ was implemented for the first time in Cambodia as part of a final evaluation of a project run by an NGO called Investing in Children and their Societies (ICS) working out of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The innovative community project, named ‘Skillful Parenting’, was aimed at promoting positive parenting practices in the rural communities so parents are better able to address the challenges of child raising, ensure harm-reduction and development of their children as well as better overall parental satisfaction and stress reduction.


Sensemaker™ was chosen for its ability to simulate a harmonious and engaging way to collect information that assisted researchers to work around sensitive issues as well as effectively deal with the complex nature of issues that parents faced regularly.

The implementation of Sensemaker™ was something of a huge learning process for all involved as it was the first time Complexability implemented such a project in Cambodia.


Additionally, ICS and its implementing partner NGO got trained from the basics on how to implement the methodology alongside support from University students as researchers and data collectors who were able to pick up the methodology quite well in the end and come out with a new set of skills.  After navigating through the translational hurdles and challenges around developing language that was required to be comprehendible by villagers with little to no education, the team were able to devise a usable survey instrument that used pictures as a way to collect micro-narratives. Using a voice recorder and paper surveys, close to 200 micro-narratives were collected by 3 to 4 data collectors.


The richness of initial collection of micro-narratives were constrained in part due to lack of properly developed process that suited the cultural landscape and data collectors who were new to the process. However with subsequent improvements and experience gained the micro-narratives became much more insightful and parents felt more open to speak. Researchers observed from the early days how much more the parents were willingly engaged and interested in the interview even with their children around, when compared to previous ways of collecting. The micro-narratives together with analysis through Sensemaker™ Explorer were able to reveal insights around how well the content taught in Skillful Parenting has been taken on board as well as challenges in applying them. Specific areas of insight gained were related to differences in needs with respect to age and social profile, familial budgeting, communication and relationships between partners as well as parental discipline style.


For more information:  sanura@complexability.com.au

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