Education and evaluation are inter-related processes. Evaluation is as old as the process of education itself. Education in its wider sense implies not only acquisition of knowledge, but also development of abilities, skills, personality qualities which are important in individual’s personal and social life. The function of evaluation in education is to provide a systematic assessment of the development of these qualities as an outcome of educational endeavour. Since population education is also an educational process aiming at inculcating rational attitude and responsible behaviour among the learners towards population and development issues and helping them to take informed decisions, role of evaluation is of utmost importance. Without the benefit of evaluation, one is unable to determine how well the programme has achieved its goal. Evaluation also serves as the basis for the improvement of the way activities are carried out. Evaluation is also an effort at discovering whether certain activities have led to desired effects or outcomes.
Evaluation in education means describing something, in terms of selected attributes and judging the degree of acceptability or suitability of that which has been described. The something which is described can be any aspect of the educational scene. In broadest sense, the term evaluation is defined as a systematic assessment of the value or worth of ‘something’. This ‘something’ could be a programme or a segment of a programme, a technique or strategy used, educational materials or a situation prevalent in a particular community. It is also defined as the collection and use of information to make decisions about an educational programme like population education programme. Principles of evaluation in population education are essentially principles of evaluation in education. It is true that evaluation in population education is difficult because population education aims at effecting behavioural changes in the affective domain to a greater degree. It has cognitive component only to the extent that is needed to bring attitudinal changes.
Effort, effect, adequacy, efficiency and process are the five major aspects that must be assessed in order to ascertain success or failure f population education programme. When programme implementers evaluate effort, they try to measure the quantity as well as the quality of available resources. This type of evaluation is called input evaluation. It involves taking of all available resources, both human and material (personnel, money, educational tools, methods or techniques), and of the activities generated by these resources. The number of qualified personnel, logistics required for programme operation, the number of educational materials distributed to the target audience the kind of and number of activities conducted, etc. are some of the features considered in input evaluation. In evaluating effect, the main concern is to measure the results or the outcomes of the efforts made in terms of intended objectives. In other words, programme evaluators want to know the extent of which their objectives have been achieved. This type of evaluation is referred to as impact or outcome evaluation.
In evaluating adequacy, the effectiveness of the programme in relation to the population, it is intended to serve, is determined. This type of evaluation is otherwise known as potency effectiveness. An index of adequacy can be computed by multiplying the rate of effectiveness of the number of people exposed to the programme. The rate of effectiveness is defined as the proportion of the target population that has been reached by the programme. For example, if a population education programme operating in a particular school reaches 100 out of a total of 1000 school children, the rate of effectiveness of the programme is 10 per cent. In as much as only 100 students were covered, the programme effect or impact will actually be felt by only 10 per cent. To make the index meaningful, it should be compared with a pre-determined level of satisfaction.
In evaluating efficiency, programme administrators make a cost benefit or cost effectiveness analysis whenever possible. They study the benefits derived from the educational activity in relation to the costing of all programme activities. It is called realized effectiveness. In process evaluation, the evaluator is interested to know how and why a programme works or does not work, or how the different programme inputs can be used to arrive at desired results. The problem focused and future oriented nature of population education programme makes it necessary to focus its evaluation on higher level cognitive in additional to the simple recall an interpretation of population concepts and statistics.