International Consultant : Technical support for early assessment Advisor (10 months, Home-Based)

  • Contract
  • Niger

UNICEF Global


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Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, Opportunity

Background

UNICEF’s fundamental mission is to promote the rights of every child, everywhere, through everything the organization does — in programs, in advocacy and in operations. Guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and SDG4, UNICEF works to ensure the right of all children to education. One of the key outputs under Goal Area 2 “Every child learns” in the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan is “Countries have strengthened their education systems for gender-equitable learning outcomes”. To support progress towards the achievement of this output, and through its partnership with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF plans to support an Early Learning Assessment to strengthen the preschool education sub-sector.

Important progress has been made in Niger in recent years with regards to measurement, evidence generation, policy guidance and sectoral planning for Early Learning. With UNICEF support, an Early Learning Assessment (ELA) was conducted in Niger in 2016 which created an evidence base that stakeholders used to advocate for greater funding for preschool education. A national strategy for preschool education that lays out a plan of action to develop the sub-sector was subsequently developed and then technically validated in 2021. Unfortunately, however, the strategy has yet to be politically validated and operationalized, and many challenges remain. First and foremost, access remains quite limited. Most Nigerien children never attend preschool (in 2018, only 12% had access). In addition to the limited overall coverage, there is a range of different options and service providers – formal structures (both public or private), community-based structures (often supported by non-governmental organizations), and religious (Koranic) structures.

Niger faces a significant learning crisis: 90% of primary school aged children do not meet minimum literacy and numeracy competency thresholds. Extending the coverage of its preschool system and strengthening its organization and quality can help to address this crisis and improve students’ foundational literacy and numeracy skills. A preschool education policy should offer quality services that effectively prepare children for primary school and extend these services to as many children as possible, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized.

For this preschool education policy to reflect the current status of the sub-sector, it should be based on the status of existing preschool models in Niger, and in particular the different variations of the services offered in terms of content, organization, and effectiveness. To do this, UNICEF intends to support another ELA of pupils who recently entered the first year of primary school in Niger. Like the previous assessment, this ELA will have a threefold purpose:

  1. A stocktaking of the current status of preschool education in Niger (a mapping of existing services  in terms of institutional governance, cost effectiveness and quality of early childhood education [ECE] services, etc.),
  2. An assessment of children’s readiness to transition into Grade 1 of primary school with the required skills and competencies, and
  3. An operational perspective, on the one hand to provide references for redefining and improving the content of preschool education activities in its various forms and, on the other hand, for primary education to ensure a smoother entry into studies as long as a certain proportion of the country’s child population has not been able to benefit from preschool.

The hope is that this study will build evidence around the importance of early childhood development and assist  Ministry of Education decision makers and pre-primary education (PPE) key stakeholders in Niger to overcome institutional and technical barriers and obtain reliable data about the impact of preschool on school readiness at the national level. Moreover, this study can help empower the preschool division at the national level, make early childhood education more of a priority for all Nigerien stakeholders, and more effectively develop the sub-sector and advocate for increased budget allocation.

Through its strategic and technical support, UNICEF Niger will assist the ministry in the implementation of an updated early learning assessment to promote increased advocacy for evidence-based and ambitious reforms to develop the ECE subsector (governance, financing, quality, etc.) in Niger, and an increased focus on the preschool sub-sector in the next education sector analysis and plan as well as UNICEF’s Niger next country program document (2023-2026).

These terms of reference aim have been developed to recruit a consultant to serve as an Advisor in support of the design and implementation of a fresh analysis of Niger’s early learning assessment & parental practices report.

Objective:  

The objective of this consultancy is to:

  • Advise the design and implementation of an assessment of skills and analysis of practices of families of students entering primary school in Niger that:
  • Provides an analysis of existing preschool services in Niger,
  • Measures the school readiness of children entering Grade 1, and
  • Provides an up-to-date reference point for redefining and improving preschool education models and ensuring an effective transition into primary education for those children who do not have a chance to attend preschool.
  • Provide quality assurance of the process and deliverables that will be produced.
  • Provide targeted support at key stages during this activity:
  • Support the political advocacy component of the final report to help prepare a framework with recommendations for the further development of preschool education.
  • Present during the workshop in which the results of the ELA are shared in a strategic dialogue with key stakeholders.
  • Contribute to the development of a brief orientation note to review/update the national strategy for preschool education based on the results of this ELA study and other studies conducted between 2022-2023 that are relevant to preschool and that align with Niger’s current education sector plan

How can you make a difference?

Activities:

  1. First mission: tentatively planned for June 2022:
  • Advise the Team Lead and UNICEF during a co-creation workshop with the Ministry of Education and establish a technical working group for the study. This technical working group will be involved throughout all stages of the study. The profiles of the participants (a maximum of twenty) should include the following:
    • Preschool Department within the Ministry of Education
    • Representatives of the Ministry’s planning department
    • Representatives of the Ministry’s statistics department
    • Representative of the Ministry’s pre-service and in-service training department
    • Representative of the Ministry’s curriculum department
    • Representatives of the Ministry’s evaluation department
    • Representatives of the preschool sector at the decentralized level
    • Representatives of private, community, religious preschool structures, etc.
    • NGOs involved in preschool
    • Representatives of the Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, other UNICEF sections (Protection, etc.) and possibly NGOs working on parenting practices
  • Objectives of the co-creation workshop:
    • Present/refine the proposed study: objectives, methodology, instruments, etc.
    • Develop an evaluation instrument (the test to be administered to children)
    • Develop a questionnaire for preschool directors
    • Develop a questionnaire for experienced teachers who are not necessarily school directors
    • Develop a questionnaire to be administered to parents regarding their parenting practices
    • Design the sample
    • Discuss the logistical organization of the assessment (preparation for the administration of the assessment, number of enumerators, profile of enumerators, organization in the field, etc.)
    • Develop and validate a roadmap (with responsibilities and dates) for PPE development in Niger
  • Format: 8-day workshop with the technical working group
  1. Actions to be taken after the first mission:
  • Provide advisory support during the finalization of the following:
    • Evaluation instrument
    • Questionnaire for preschool directors
    • Questionnaire for parents
    • Note that the technical working group, with support from UNICEF, will conduct a pre-test of these three instruments in a few kindergartens in urban and rural areas; the instruments will then be revised and finalized based on the results of the pre-test.
    • Sample
  1. Actions to be taken after the assessment is administered:
  • Following the administration of the assessment, advise the Team Lead and UNICEF during the analysis of data and report writing (to be finalized by March 2023). More specifically, support the political advocacy component of the report to help prepare a framework with recommendations for the further development of preschool education.
  1. Second mission: tentatively planned for March 2023:
  • Objective: Review and validation of the study
  • Format: 5-day workshop
  • Following the analysis of the data and the drafting of the report, a workshop will be held to present and validate the results of the study. The report will be sent to the technical working group prior to this mission to gather their comments and integrate them before validation. Present during the workshop in which the results of the ELA are shared in a strategic dialogue with key stakeholders (Minister, Secretary General, Local Education Group, UNICEF Representative/Deputy Representative, UNICEF, World Bank, etc.).

Task, Deliverables and timeline 

Tasks/Milestone: Deliverables/Outputs: Timeline:
Mission: provide advisory support to Team Lead, the technical working group, and UNICEF during an 8-day workshop with the technical working group (10 days)

– Study objectives and methodology refined

– Evaluation instrument developed

– Preschool director questionnaire developed

– Experienced teacher questionnaire developed

– Parent questionnaire developed

– Sampled designed

– Assessment logistics determined (preparation for the administration of the assessment, number of enumerators, profile of enumerators, organization in the field, etc.)

 

June 2022

(Deliverable 1: 30%)

Actions to be taken after the mission: provide advisory support to Team Lead, the technical working group, and UNICEF during the revision and finalization of study instruments based on results of pre-test; finalize sample

– 

Finalized evaluation instrument

– Finalized preschool director questionnaire

– Finalized parent questionnaire

-Finalized sample

 

 

July-August 2022

(Deliverable 2: 20%)

Provide advisory support to Team Lead the technical working group, and UNICEF during data analysis and report writing, including the political advocacy component to help prepare a framework with recommendations for the further development of preschool education

Draft report shared with technical working group in February 2023

– Final report that integrates technical working group comments delivered by March 2023

January -March 2023

 
Contribute to the development of a brief orientation note to review/update the national strategy for preschool education based on the results of this ELA study and other studies conducted between 2022-2023 that are relevant to preschool and that align with Niger’s current education sector plan – A brief orientation note is developed for PPE development in Niger

March 2023

 

Second mission: contribute to a 5-day workshop – Study results are reviewed and validated by preschool education stakeholders
 

March 2023

(Deliverable 3: 50%)

Working modalities and Supervision: The consultant can work remotely but will need to make one trip to Niger to work/interact with the UNICEF Education section as well as the technical working group. He/she will be under the direct supervision of the Education Manager (Quality) and work closely with the Team Lead consultant.

This is a Home-Based consultancy with one mission in Niamey, Niger Country Office

Methodology: The consultant will be required to work closely with the UNICEF Education section as well as the Ministry of Education, specifically the preschool department within the primary education directorate. The consultant will also consult other technical and financial partners as needed.

Evaluation Criteria:

The selection will be done through specific concrete steps: The first step consists of a shortlist of applicants based on individuals’ applications and qualifications. The next step will be a technical test followed by an interview with successful candidates that will assess further technical and UNICEF core competencies. Finally, for the recommended candidate(s), the panel will check their references as provided in their initial application.

Concerning the financial offer, the panel member will evaluate every applicants’ proposed rate and factor it in the recommendation based on best value for money analysis. 

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

Qualifications and Skills:

  • Doctorate degree in Education, Economics, Statistics, Developmental Psychology or a related area of study
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills
  • Expertise in education systems, in particular preschool and primary school, at the international level, particularly in Africa
  • Effective evaluation design, sampling design, statistical analysis and writing skills
  • Fluency in French required
  • Working knowledge of English required                              

Professional Experience:

  • At least 10 years of experience, including demonstrated experience in an advisory role, in the development, implementation, design and monitoring of learning assessments including early learning assessments
  • Significant experience in education research, early childhood development (ECD) research, and/or ECD policy development and implementation
  • Knowledge of the West African education and ECD context
  • Ability to work in a multicultural and multi-ethnic environment
  • Experience working with the UN or other international development organizations is an asset

As part of their application package on the UNICEF online portal, interested candidates should submit:

  • A cover letter (letter of motivation)
  • An up-to-date CV
  • A financial offer
  • A copy of the highest obtained academic diploma

Candidates should clearly state their ability and availability to fulfill these terms of reference, as well as provide their proposed financial compensation. The financial offer should be all inclusive (expected salary as well as any subsistence allowance and/or travel costs)

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA).

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Remarks:

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. The candidate may also be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid).

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