Theory of Change
Developing a competent human capital base will require strategic collaboration among key stakeholders, including independent research/ policy institutes and think tanks. There is extensive evidence pointing to the transformative roles played by think tanks in policy development, innovations, as well as clearing-house for information, and advocacy for national development in many countries around the world. According to the National Institute for Research Advancement, a Japanese think tank, think tanks are "one of the main policy actors in democratic societies ..., assuring a pluralistic, open and accountable process of policy analysis, research, decision-making and evaluation" (NIRA, 2005). The number and overall impact of policy research organizations seem to be increasing in many countries around the world. Think tanks often serve as catalysts for political and socio-economic reform (McGann, 2010). Independent policy institutions have played significant transformative roles in countries as diverse as Argentina, Egypt, Poland, South Korea, Turkey and the United States.
While Nepal and other South Asian countries boast of having effective ‘operational’ civil society groups, there are only a few established think tanks conducting high quality research and policy analysis. Among the few ‘development oriented firms’ that exist in Nepal and the region, most are financially dependent on consultancies and grants from external donors, making them less than objective in their analysis. Moreover, these institutions have been unable to maintain their thematic focus, given the need to continuously seek funding for survival; and most find themselves routinely working outside their original scope of interest and area of expertise. Working in close partnership with various stakeholders, CHDI aspires to conduct independent, relevant and high quality research and analysis that generates new narratives and produces impact in the education sector.
Effecting Change through Sharing Information and Knowledge
People in Nepal and other democratic societies can represent popular opinion during the electoral process, when they vote for a party within a territorial constituency. Access to such occasional exercise of power only, however, leaves them unable to influence change during the long period between elections. Many individuals in democratic societies also belong to groups that share attitudes, initiatives, or occupations. These form ‘pressure groups/ networks’, allowing citizen continuous opportunity to influence policy in particular areas. CHDI is committed to build on the work of existing groups, civil society organizations, and networks concerned with education and human development and help to further enhance policy making and program development.
The perspective on effecting change is based on the notion that when pertinent information and knowledge is made freely and easily available to stakeholders and beneficiaries belonging to either loosely or legally formed ‘pressure groups/networks’, that they will influence policies as well as services that have a bearing on their well-being. Of course, such a virtuous accountability cycle operates best in democratic societies where freedom of speech and sharing of information is a constitutional right of its citizens and where various media and communication mechanisms are robust. In Nepal, the unfolding of the democratic process has created a more politically aware cadre of young citizens who are increasingly coalescing to form ‘interest groups and networks.’ In addition, the democratizing context has also engendered a wide variety of print and electronic media that growing number of citizens are using. With over 90 percent of the population already using mobile phones, there are significant prospects for collecting ‘real time’ data from an engaged beneficiary population using mobile technology and disseminating relevant findings and information back to them, as a way to spur action. More importantly wider access to technology is promoting multiple channels of learning inside and outside of traditional learning environment.