Careers at UNICEF

Careers at UNICEF

 

Consultant for Assessment of quality of ECE services, Bihar

Location: Patna 

Official Travel: Travel to 5-10 districts will be required 

Duration: 4 months 

Closing Date: 21 January 2014 

Background: 

Early childhood is a crucial stage of life in terms of a child's physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. Growth of mental and physical abilities progress at an astounding rate and a very high proportion of learning take place from birth to age six.

It is a time when children particularly need high quality personal care and learning experiences. Since the process of human development is essentially cumulative in nature, investment in programs for the youngest children in the range of 0-6 years has begun to be accepted as the very foundation for basic education and lifelong learning and development.

It is now undisputedly acknowledged that the systematic provision of early childhood care and education (ECCE) helps in the development of children in a variety of ways. These include: improving group socialization, stimulation of creative learning processes, enhanced language skills and better chances of continuation in formal schools.

Early childhood period can be roughly divided in to two parts: the first being 0-3 years and the second being 3-6 years. 0-3 years is the period when child’s nutritional needs are very important and also very different from adults, it is a period when the child gradually moves from a period of absolute dependency on others for care and support to relative independence as she starts sitting, grabbing, walking and using verbal and nonverbal methods of communication.

At this period the child spends most of the time with parents and immediate associates. A safe, caring and stimulating environment created by caregivers goes a long way in ensuring maximization of child’s potential at this stage.

For the purpose of given assignment, we are more focused on  the period of 3-6 years when child has achieved basic survival skills and her social circle starts expanding. This is also the period for ‘school preparedness’. Enrollment to pre-school service at this stage helps boosts child’s adaptive skills and also strengthens her chances of continuing education successfully.

Despite importance of ECE, so far systematic efforts have not been taken in India to empower caregiver and teachers to provide quality early childhood education.

However, in 2012, in view of the Dakar Framework for Action (2000) and Moscow Framework for Action (2010), the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India has come up with its draft National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education along with draft Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards, reaffirming its commitment to improve the current status of ECE services.

The Scenario of Bihar in context of ECE leaves much to be desired. Concentrated efforts from varied stakeholders are required to help 3-6 year old children in the state to maximize their growth and development potential. However, the first step towards the journey of better ECE services is to assess the current situation so as to identify and prioritize the critical measures to be taken for this.

Purpose of Assignment:

In light of the importance of ECE services, the assignment aims at understanding the coverage and quality of ECE services in the state; it also aims at understanding the gaps in ECE services. The assignment will look at differential access to ECE services if exists based on child’s social category (that includes caste and gender).

The broad purpose of the study is as under:

           To present a comprehensive picture of coverage and quality of early childhood education services along with gaps and challenges in the state of Bihar and to make recommendations for improved ECE services

The following are the specific objectives of given assignment:

a.         To understand the quality of ECE services in terms of quality of incentives (food or take home ration or any other),  physical environment (availability of safe building, ventilation, water and sanitation facilities, stimulating environment) and learning environment (availability of trained professional, ratio of service provider to children, attendance of service provider and children, whether or not the approach is inclusive and gender sensitive, quality of interaction, play materials available, capacity of potential

b.         To know what are learning objectives and curriculum goals that guide the ECE services.

c.         Seeking views and opinions of key stakeholders (teachers, mothers and fathers, other family members, panchayat representatives, ICDS workers, officials) on coverage and quality of services as well as major challenges.

d.         Mapping the factors that are influencing access to and quality of ECE services

e.         To understand implications of ECE service on enrolment, continuation and participation in schools, and the linkage between ECE service and primary schools.

f.          Providing recommendation for improving ECE services from the point of view of both inclusion and quality.

Research Questions:

In view of the above discussed objectives, the research questions are as follows:

a.         Whether or not the physical and learning environment in ECE centers conducive for early childhood learning? Is the learning environment inclusive and equitable?

b.         Is there a developmentally appropriate curriculum that guides teaching-learning processes at the ECE centers?

c.         Do service providers have relevant skill sets to deliver ECE services? What are their capacity building needs and how they are addressed?

d.         How do parents and other stakeholders rate the ECE centers in the community? What positives, areas of improvement and challenges they perceive in context of ECE services available in the community?

e.         What factors influence the quality of ECE services?

f.          What are the barriers to quality ECE service?

g.         What measures need to be taken for improving the quality of ECE services?

Methodology:

The study will start with desk review of draft national policy on ECCE, draft national curriculum framework and quality standards.  This will help contextualize the study.

The study will use both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the current status of ECE services in Bihar. Quantitative tools will be developed to cover aspects such as enrolment and attendance of children for ECE services, attendance and regularity of service providers, basic details about service providers including number, gender, experience, training and qualifications.

It will also cover quantitative details related to infrastructure and facilities: SCR, availability of toilets, availability and regularity of provisions like food and other incentives, availability of ECE material etc.
 

A mix of quantitative and qualitative tools should be developed to observe quality aspects related to physical as well as learning environment. Rating scales/ other techniques may be used to collect information on some indicators such as nature of children-service provider interaction, opportunities for interaction amongst children, type of activities etc. These can be substantiated with qualitative questionnaires/ interview check list for different stakeholders.

As discussed earlier, the study will also focus on understanding factors that affect coverage and quality of ECE services; it will be pertinent for the purpose that the study includes varied respondents ranging from district level officials to parents and community members.

Key Informants:

           ICDS workers/ teachers/ other service providers at village level

•           Children, parents and community members

•           Sector Supervisors

•           Child Development Project Officers

•           District Project Officers (ICDS)/ other district level officials

Sample: The study will be conducted in at least five districts of Bihar which will be selected based on demographic and geographical criteria. 

For understanding specific implementation issues as well as field level practices, in each district, 2 Panchayats will be intensively covered.

These gram panchayats will be selected from one of the blocks in the district which may have socio-demographic indicators close to the district average. Thus a total of 10 gram panchayats will be covered across 5 districts.

All ICDS centers will be covered in each of the gram panchayats. Besides, the ICDS centers, if there are other services   (for instance, 3 or 4 year olds may be enrolled in schools or may be going to Balwadi/ other centers, if they exist in the vicinity); they should also be looked at.

Basic project objective to which the consultancy is related:

The project will contribute to policy advocacy for improved coverage and quality of ECE services; the project will:

a.         Inform the government and non-government agencies about the quality and coverage of ECE services

b.         Give insights into barriers in the way of inclusive and high quality ECE services

c.         Provide recommendations for better and more inclusive ECE services

Duty Station & travel involved:

Patna (Travel to 5-10 districts will be required.)

Major Tasks:

 

Tasks

Estimated no. of days

Time line/ duration

a.       Desk review of national policy on ECCE; review of history of ECCE; the draft National Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards

 

 

4

First week of signing of contact

b.       Development of methodology for ECE study explaining the design, sampling, key respondents/sources, tools of data collection, analysis plan, time lines in agreement with UNICEF staff

 

8

Week 2-3

c.       Development of framework/outline of final report

 

3

Week 3- 4

d.       Orientation and training of personnel engaged in study (local data collectors/others)

 

3

Week 4

e.       Piloting of tools; revision if required

6

Week 5

f. Data Collection

30

Week 6 to 10

g.       Supervision of data collection process (field visits at regular intervals during the 30 days period of data collection)

5

On-going from week 6 to 10.

h.       Data entry, cleaning and validation

 

10

Week 7 to 11

(Entry process may not wait until the whole data is collected: it may start by the second week of data collection)

 

i. Data analysis; drawing trends

 

5

Week 11 to 12

j. Draft report

10

Week 4 to 13 (Report writing may start while the methodology section is complete, training of data collectors is done… )

k.       Comments/ suggestions on draft report from UNICEF team

4

Week 14

l. Finalization of report

7

Week 15

m.    Total number of days

95

 

End Product:

A         40-45 page report on status of ECE with the following contents:

a. Preface (1 page)

b. Acknowledgement (1 page)

c. Abstract (1 page)

d. Executive summary: (2 pages)

e. List of Abbreviation

f. Backdrop (2 pages): Mentioning relevance of ECE; an overview of international/ national perspective on ECE; overview of Bihar’s status on children’s education and development indicators.

g. Methodology Segment (3-4 pages) giving an overview of design, sample, tools, key respondents, time frame, description of team engaged in data collection, limitations of the study (if any); map indicating selected districts/ blocks etc. should be used.

h. Findings (20-25 pages; can be divided into sub-themes such as coverage, quality of services, inclusion and equity aspects….): This section should include trends emerging from both qualitative and quantitative data within each theme; use of anecdotes, quotes and pictures should be used wherever relevant, in addition to graphical representation. 

i. Recommendations and conclusions(5-7 pages)

j. References

Note: Raw, cleaned data in form of excel sheet for quantitative information and word format in case of qualitative information should be submitted along with the report.

 Qualifications & Experience required:

 The agency/individual will be selected based on:

a. Expertise in thematic area i.e. early childhood development and education

b. Demonstrated ability to undertake studies and social research

c. Understanding of regional context

d. Availability of trained personnel

 Application Procedures

 (1)        Qualified female/male candidates are requested to please indicate their ability and availability to undertake the terms of reference above.

 (2)        Your application should be sent to indconsultants@unicef.org by COB 21 January 2014 with subject line "Consultant for assessment of quality of ECE services, Bihar" in separate files (not to exceed a total size of 4 MB per email):

 a)         An application letter, CV and P11 form in PDF format (which can be downloaded from our website at http://www.UNICEF.org/india/overview_1440.htm)

 

b)         A financial proposal in PDF format indicating deliverable based fee as per template. (download)

 

 (3)       The financial proposals of only those candidates, who are found technically responsive, will be opened.

 

(4)        Only short-listed candidates will be called for test/interview (if applicable). Any attempt to unduly influence UNICEF’s selection process will lead to automatic disqualification of the applicant. 

(5)        Joint applications of two or more individuals are not accepted.  

 

 
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