International consultancy to support Ministry of Education to review and develop recommendations to strengthen the national framework for monitoring of quality of pre-primary education in Tajikistan

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UNICEF Global


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For every child, education.

Background

UNICEF in Tajikistan launched a 5-year project “Tajikistan Inclusive Pre-primary Education (PPE)”, through funding provided by USAID Tajikistan, aiming to significantly improve children’s access to, and participation in essential and inclusive pre-primary activities in Tajikistan. The project will assist the central and local education authorities to expand access and strengthen quality of the existing pre-primary education services to improve learning outcomes and get children better prepared to start schooling. All children in the project will be exposed to a play-based, inclusive, child-centered, age-appropriate and country relevant pre-primary education services through a half-day, alternative model of PPE provision. 

The approach will be inclusive of all children, including girls, children with disabilities and developmental delays, and/or are from communities, where children’s natal language is different from the language of instruction at PPE. The project is aligned to the priorities of the National Education Development Strategy 2030 and UNICEF Country Programme Document until 2026, including the revised National Concept on Inclusive Education, which aim to increase enrolment of children in PPE services. It addresses the urgent need for strengthening national systems at central and local level to deliver quality, inclusive and affordable PPE services for all children open access to pre-primary play-based educational content with a focus on disability inclusion and ethnic minorities as one of the primary education equity measurements of the project. 

How can you make a difference? 

Purpose/objectives

Tajikistan falls behind other Central Asian countries, as well as lower-middle income countries, in the enrolment of pre-primary education (PPE). Despite PPE enrollment has been improved from 12.3 % in 2015 to 15.6 % in 2023, the rates have stagnated at 15%, without significant change over the past 8 years (2018-2023), with 45 % of enrolled children being girls.

While 65% of PPE teachers hold a general secondary and vocational education background, many do not have the required qualifications to support young children’s development and learning, let alone to support the early learning of children with developmental delays and disabilities. The mandatory preschool curriculum developed in 2010, is not fully implemented in preschools, and needs to be updated to make it more inclusive, play-based and developmentally appropriate to the needs of young children.

Pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills are particularly weak in Tajikistan, contributing to low educational outcomes in primary education and beyond. Early grade reading assessments (EGRA) being conducted in Tajikistan since 2014 reports that learners in grades 2 and 4 struggle to meet reading comprehension standards, likely in part due to the low pre-primary attendance rates. Lack of inclusive infrastructure, the poor quality of the existing pre-primary facilities and the fee-based PPE services cumulatively contribute to low enrolment in preschools.

Quality assurance of PPE service provision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) and is implemented by the central and local education quality assurance mechanisms. However, it is assumed that the existing monitoring framework does not address the comprehensive provision of PPE, which includes having adequate physical infrastructure, quality teaching practices and stimulating interactions with young children, inclusive play-based curriculum, community-parental engagement. Additionally, the MoES framework does not specifically monitor and provide needed information about the inclusiveness of PPE – including participation in children with developmental delays and disabilities.

Given the policy context and the urgent need for improving learning outcomes of children, the moment has arrived for the country to initiate policy dialogue related to adoption of a comprehensive framework for systematic monitoring, measurement and improvement of the quality and inclusiveness of PPE provision (including teaching capacity – pedagogy competencies, quality of interactions between teachers and students, and classroom learning environments, along with accompanying feedback mechanisms).

 

DESCRIPTION/SCOPE of the ASSIGNMENT:

Given the very limited number of places in state-owned kindergartens (traditional model), Tajikistan has begun to design and expand diversified arrangements for pre-primary education, primarily school-based and community-based early learning centers and half-day preschools that are supported by Ministries of Education and Science, local authorities, development partners, NGOs or private sector. Given the diversification of the pre-primary education provision, it is critical that there is a common understanding, adoption and application of quality concepts, standards and criteria, to ensure a) resources invested will lead to quality outcomes supportive of young children’s learning and development, and b) all young children benefit from positive learning and development experiences. National quality framework for PPE provision should ensure quality across all settings and services (traditional and alternative, full-day and half-day). The country specific framework should provide the necessary basis/structure to review the quality assurance mechanisms, including standards, as well as a focus on the process and quality of the implementation of this framework, not just ensuring the quality of hard inputs (such as infrastructure standards) but also the soft component of the framework implementation – quality of teaching/learning etc.. Quality monitoring of PPE services is directly related to larger issues that countries face in the region such as ECE curriculum strengthening, scalability, certification, and impact assessment. It also has important implications for equity as it has the potential to identify variations in provision for different socio-economic population groups.

UNICEF in Tajikistan is seeking an international individual consultant to support the Ministry of Education and Science to revise and develop recommendations for adapting/strengthening/developing a comprehensive national framework for monitoring and improving quality of PPE services, with a particular focus on the quality assurance process and the existing quality assurance framework/system. The consultant is expected to review the current quality assurance system for PPE in the country, in particular:

A) Examine existing indicators and criteria within the quality assurance tools, and the extent to which the current quality assurance mechanisms focus on process quality, particularly the quality of interactions between teachers/caregivers and children in PPE settings, as well as issues pertaining to teachers’ pedagogical practices, etc.

B) Focus on the degree to which current quality assurance mechanisms include indicators related to inclusion of young children with disabilities and developmental delays, and relevant indicators pertaining the inclusivity of PPE learning environments (ethnicity, poor socio-economic background etc).

C) Focus on data flow and how data on PPE quality, flows through different parts of the education system.

D) Review needs to integrate a focus on inclusion, analyzing the extent to which the existing quality assurance system systematically collects data on children with disabilities and delays

The comprehensive framework that addresses the quality of the early childhood education system in a country would necessarily include all these and more questions as relevant from UNICEF’s Build to Last Framework. The tools, definitions and indicators provided in this framework will center around these seven priority components:

1. Physical learning environment

2. Teaching and learning processes

3. Teacher competencies

4. Curriculum

5. School readiness outcomes

6. Leadership

7. Parent and community involvement

These components were identified because they play a key role in improving the quality of PPE services in many different context. These seven components are not exhaustive; the core components can be adapted according to local priorities and contexts.

The consultant is advised to follow the guiding principles below:

1. Consultation process with relevant education stakeholders on strengths and gaps in existing quality framework and the extent to which it focuses on inclusion and different PPE services.

2. Strengthening the PPE quality framework in Tajikistan needs to be based on analytical and comparative research of country practices in providing PPE services. The consultant is expected to build knowledge among key PPE stakeholders around internationally recognized tools (Quality Assurance part of the ECE Accelerator Toolkit developed by UNICEF) to assure quality of service provision.

3. Conceptualization and contextualization of quality components and recommendations for indicators and targets at country level.

4. Awareness and focus on equity and inclusion. Capturing the equity dimension in the process of contextualization and implementation of a quality framework for PPE services at the country level is a key part of the proposed process.

5. Recommend relevant revisions for PPE regulations and licensing of PPE services in line with the National Preschool Education Standards. Having said this, if the aim is to comprehensively improve the quality of PPE services, it will be not enough to look at regulations and licensing. Regulations and licenses may certainly ensure safety and minimum functioning conditions of PPE centers in order to protect children from harmful services and practices, but it cannot help achieving the claimed high quality PPE.

6. Where relevant and possible, elect priority factors and define targets for quality PPE services. The issues affecting the quality of PPE services should be selected and prioritized on the basis of needs of a child in terms of accessibility to quality and inclusive services.

7. Support sections (Education, Social Policy, Child Protection, PME, SBC etc.) and MoES, affiliated agencies in developing/clarifying scope of work for scalable and sustainable ECD/ECE interventions planned in Year 1 and anticipated for Year 2 implementation.

Detailed Work assignment is attached: Download File Work Assignment and Travel details.docx

 

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

  • Education: Advanced degree in education, health, economics, political science, business administration, monitoring and evaluation or other relevant field.
  • Work Experience: At least 10 years of relevant experience in the development and implementation of quality frameworks and quality assurance procedures in early childhood education and care, including excellent expertise in quality framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (including inclusive aspects) and monitoring and evaluation of ECEC. Proven experience on the development and implementation of scalable and sustainable annual workplans, M&E system and/or M&E in education, preferably in early childhood education and care.
     
Technical Knowledge:
  • Experience in developing M&E and quality assurance systems for education, preferably for inclusive and quality early childhood education and care
  • Experience in delivering trainings (development of relevant materials for conducting trainings, example: manuals, presentations, etc.) for different audiences (example: rural population, government workers, specialists, non-governmental organizations).
  • International experience in developing and implementing surveys (interviews) is an advantage.
  • Experience and ability to work and cooperate with government authorities.
Competencies:
  • Strong coordination skills, analytical and conceptual thinking.
  • Excellent writing, communication, and presentation skills with stakeholders.
  • Ability to work under pressure and commitment to work to a tight timeframe.
Language: Proficiency in English, knowledge of Tajik/Russian with good verbal and written skills is an advantage.
 
Interested candidates shall submit the following documents:
1. Profile (CV)
2. Technical proposal describing approach/methodology to achieve the tasks of ToR workplan with concrete timeframes
3. At least 2 papers/concept notes previously developed by the candidate or when the candidate provided substantial inputs to the documents
4. Financial proposal in USD indicating all-inclusive fee, indicating fee per day and cost of the travel Download File Annex 3 Financial proposal.docx. This consultancy requires 2 trips to the Country Office with approx. 20 travel days.

Applications must be received in the system by 26 April 2024 on the UNICEF website.

For every Child, you demonstrate… 

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

 To view our competency framework, please visit  here

 UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment. 

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. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts. 

Advertised: 11 Apr 2024 West Asia Standard Time
Deadline: 26 Apr 2024 West Asia Standard Time

Apply now
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