Vacancy extension – National Individual Consultant – Qualitative data collection and evidence generation for the Akelius Digital Language Learning course, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina, 60 w

UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund


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For every child, Education

To prepare and undertake qualitative data collection, and specifically Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews, with children and relevant stakeholders on the effects of the Akelius learning course on the learning outcomes of refugee children in three learning centres across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For this task, the services of one national individual consultant will be contracted for a total of 60 working days over a period of four months to work with the UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Country Office, and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti to conduct the preparation and implementation of fieldwork and data management.

In 2017, UNICEF and the Akelius Foundation entered into a global partnership with the objective to provide refugee & migrant children with an online learning course to facilitate the acquisition of local language skills and to assist with the integration of children into appropriate education pathways (including the formal education system), or into the broader society, of the hosting country.

More specifically, the aim of this initiative and overall partnership is to expand access to and accelerate language learning for refugee & migrant children, through a blended learning educational approach aimed at: (1) supporting traditional face-to-face teaching, and (2) serving as a self-learning tool outside the classroom for children who do not have access to formal or non-formal education or language classes.

The goal of the Akelius digital language course is to provide students and teachers with a tool to accelerate host country language learning. It is free, includes no advertising and requires no prior user information to access. Its main features are simplicity, flexibility, agility and fun. The content has been tailored to be used for a variety of learning levels, including for absolute beginners.

The Akelius course is designed to be a free public good. Its main features intend to be simplicity, flexibility, agility and fun – to adapt to slow learners and to children with special needs and disabilities and avoid rejection. It aims to be user-friendly and designed with the users, including with teachers and education professionals. Through the partnership with UNICEF under a co-creation approach, the design of the course iterates according to teacher and student feedback and improves in user experience and learning design.

The initiative has a strong emphasis on evidence generation, specifically monitoring and research. One important part for informing the evidence base is through the collection of qualitative data that aims at: (1) estimating the program impact on learning outcomes and integration of students into formal schooling, (2) examining the co-creation process of the initiative, (3) examining the various modes of implementation of the course, and (4) understanding the program sustainability and potential for scale.

This process aims to inform policies and strategies on the effectiveness of digital learning tools as alternative means of supporting children’s learning.

UNICEF is currently engaged in research of the Akelius learning course in Bosnia Herzegovina and seeks to work with an individual consultant in the preparation and collection of qualitative data, specifically through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and interviews.

How can you make a difference?

The consultant will be involved in the development of the workplan and methodology, conduct field work, and post-fieldwork activities of FGDs and interviews, contributing to the evidence base of the effects of the Akelius learning course on children’s learning. UNICEF and partners expect the data collection to directly feed into the analysis of effects, usability and programme improvement in the country. The analysis will serve as empirical evidence for a country report to be drafted by UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti upon the completion of data collection.

The consultant will attend an inception meeting where the sample design will be agreed upon, followed by a training workshop. UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti will assume responsibility for:

• Providing the research protocols including protection protocol and data collection instruments; and

• Training the consultant in advance of data collection tailored to the needs of the study.

The contracted consultant will work under the overall supervision of the Education Specialist and direct supervision of the Programme Officer, Education and Health and provide a package of support to the research project which includes the following:

  1. One common work plan for the field work according to the objectives of the study and the final sample selected. This should be risk-informed (including risks and security issues, and with pre-identified replacement of learning centers if necessary) and delivered at least one week in advance of the planned field work.

The plan should describe in detail how the consultant will manage the field work based on the selected sample, respondent groups and associated research instruments. The plan should have a separate section that discusses potential risks and considerations of the data collection generally in the context of Bosnia Herzegovina, and specifically related to data collection in the TRCS (cultural and normative aspects of working and approaching refugee children, administrative hurdles, language barriers, learning centers schedules, etc.). It should also take into account the clearance processes required by central, local, and learning centers authorities, where applicable. Ethical considerations in relation to working with children, adolescents as well as adults should be discussed, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, and ways to mitigate them.

  1. Attend the training provided by UNICEF researchers. The training is intended to introduce the consultant into the specifics of data collection tailored to this project. It will include pilot testing of instruments, and in-depth discussions of ethical considerations and protocols.

  2. Preparation work prior to fieldwork. It includes reviewing, providing feedback, and English to BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) translation of all data collection instruments that will be provided by UNICEF experts. The following instruments are envisaged for data collection:

• Focus group guide for children

• Focus group guide for teachers

• Classroom observation guide

• Interview guide for Akelius management

• Interview guide for leaders of the learning centres

• Interview guide for Implementing partner management

• Others as provided

  1. Undertake qualitative data collection, based on the pre-agreed sample and instruments, ensuring timely completion and recording of all interviews and FGDs, and completion of documentation related to these data. The preliminary sampling envisages the collection of 6 FGDs with children, 3 FGDs with teachers, 6 classrooms observations, and 15 interviews with various stakeholders, in 3 TRCs across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  2. Ensure completion of debriefing forms and observation sheets, and deliver one case study per TRC (max 5 pages for each), including observations of the TRC’s context, respondents’ conditions and interactions, challenges experienced throughout the data collection process, and other observed information relevant to the data collection, TRC and learning center environment, the use of Akelius platform, and student learning.

  3. Quality assurance and delivery of transcribed and recorded Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and interviews. Final data to be provided in English.

  4. Coding the FGDs and interview transcripts. For each question in transcribed files, note main ideas and identify ideas that occur multiple times, including those that occur across multiple questions and across FGDs and interviews. Perform critical thinking about these recurring ideas to identify themes. Identify connections between themes and include text extracts to support them.

  5. Delivery of one summary report of maximum 20 pages on main findings. This report should be provided in English.

The selected consultant will work closely with experts from the UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Office, and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. For all contractual issues (including payments) and the day-to-day activities, the consultant will liaise with the UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Office.

For technical issues related to protocols, instruments, ethics, deliverables, field work, data collection, post-data collection management, the consultant will liaise with both UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. All deliverables must be approved the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in order to be considered final.

The consultant is expected to use his/her own equipment, including computers and other types of hardware and software necessary for the data collection and data management. UNICEF premises will be available for meetings and consultations.

It is expected that national implementing partners of the Akelius course will provide interpretation for interviewing refugee and migrant children who are not fluent in English or Bosnian.

The consultant shall not make use of any unpublished or confidential information made known in the course of performing the duties under the terms of this agreement, without written authorization from UNICEF. The products of this consultancy are not the property of the consultant and cannot be shared without the permission of UNICEF. The consultant shall respect the local norms and refrain from interfering in the country’s political affairs. UNICEF remains the owner of the data and UNICEF rules and regulations apply on intellectual property will be applicable where necessary.

The consultant will receive deliverable based payments and UNICEF reserves the right to withhold all or portions of the payment if deliverables are deemed unsatisfactory, if incomplete, not delivered or for failure to meet deadlines. UNICEF reserves the right to adapt and modify deliverables and deadlines.

The contracted partner shall abide by and be governed by UNICEF Procedure on Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation and Data Collection and Analysis which can be accessed here:

https://www.unicef.org/supply/files/ATTACHMENT_IV-UNICEF_Procedure_for_Ethical_Standards.PDF

The consultant shall follow all protocols and recommendations on COVID-19 issued by the relevant authorities in BiH and propose contingency plans and actions as authorities change the guidelines on COVID-19 across the country and at the Temporary Reception Centres.

The presence of the consultant in the country will be necessary as required by the methodology. The data collection activities are to be conducted in Una- Sana Canton in two temporary reception centres (TRC Borici and TRC Lipa) and in one temporary reception facility in Canton Sarajevo (TRC Ušivak).

The selected consultant will be working under the overall supervision of the Chief of Education at the Bosnia Herzegovina Country Office and under the direct supervision of the Programme Officer, Education and Health and liaise with education experts at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti on a regular basis.

The project will follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Quality Assurance and Ethical Standards of UNICEF-supported studies towards results for children in the ECA Region.

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

  • Advanced University degree in Education, Social Sciences, Public Policy, International Relations, Political Science, or other relevant disciplines with a strong research focus.
  • 5+ years of work experience in research or monitoring and evaluation, preferably in the area of education.
  • Proven experience in undertaking qualitative data collection.
  • Strong understanding of various qualitative methodologies, including interviews, and focus group discussions.
  • Fluency and excellent language skills in English and BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) mandatory.
  • Knowledge of the Bosnia and Herzegovina country context (including its refugee and migrant population) and major education issues.
  • Experience in interview transcription and qualitative data coding.
  • Familiarity with qualitative analytical software tools such as NVivo, Atlas T.I., etc.
  • Experience in research on and with children, and familiarity with relevant practical and ethical considerations.
  • Must be available to work on project deliverables for the duration of this project.

For every Child, you demonstrate:

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies:

  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness (1)
  • Works Collaboratively with others (1)
  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (1)
  • Innovates and Embraces Change (1)
  • Thinks and Acts Strategically (1)
  • Drive to achieve impactful results (1)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (1)

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

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:

Vacancy has been extended until 15 October 2021.

Please submit your application along with lump sum financial offer for this consultancy stated in BAM or USD.

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

For further details please contact Human Resources at UNICEF Office in Sarajevo, Ms. Marina Kadic [email protected]

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.

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