United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Consultant (Development of Status Update Report)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Job Description

UNICEF Pacific is looking to hire a consultant to work in collaboration with the Pacific Early Learning Taskforce to develop, validate and finalize a 2021 status update on ECE.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. 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, a vision 

Early Childhood Education (ECE) refers to organized programmes that are intentionally designed to include educational content for young children before the start of grade 1 level education, often around age 6 in Pacific Island Countries. Participation in quality ECE is proven to establish strong foundations for learning and success in school and beyond, especially for the most vulnerable. Delivering quality ECE at scale requires the recognition of ECE as a comprehensive subsector that is integral to the education system, rather than an ‘add-on service’.

Most Pacific Island countries have traditionally had more limited access to ECE in comparison to other levels and many have now identified ensuring access to quality early learning as a priority, with increased focus and resourcing of the sub-sector within national systems, including in emergencies. A number of Pacific countries are currently embarking on ECE subsector diagnostic and planning processes to fully integrate the subsector plans in their education sector planning cycle. In the development of ECE subsector plans there is a strong focus, five core functions within ECE, namely: 1) equitable planning and resource allocation, 2) curriculum implementation, 3) workforce development, 4) family and Community Engagement, and 5) quality assurance. Along with these, countries are developing strategies to support an enabling environment for ECE subsector. Such an environment includes strong national policies, dedicated budgets, ministerial leadership, and public demand for quality early education programmes.

Therefore, the rationale for adopting a resilient, equity focused, efficient and well-coordinated systems approach towards strengthening the ECE sub-sector within national education systems, including in emergencies, is strong.

The 2010 Forum Education Ministers meeting called for the creation of a Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE) to consolidate and coordinate ECE activities across Pacific Island countries. The PRC4ECCE was envisioned to support initiatives to ensure ‘Children across the Pacific reach their full potential through region-wide investment in high quality and sustainable ECCE programmes. In 2014, the PRC4ECCE endorsed the Pacific Guidelines for the Development of National Quality Frameworks for ECCE. This document provided guidance to countries on the development and support of a multi-sectoral approach to ECCE in order to provide coordinated, quality services for young children aged 3-5 years. The secretariat of PRC4ECCE, a role held by UNICEF Pacific since PRC4ECCE’s inception, was tasked with monitoring the implementation, adaptation and impact of the ‘Pacific Guidelines’ across the PICTs. In 2015, UNICEF worked with PRC4ECCE country representatives to collect and analyze data using a questionnaire and extensive country follow-up. This resulted in the release of a baseline status report on ECCE that was presented at a Pacific Heads of Education Systems meeting in October 2015.

In 2017, the baseline 2015 report was updated. The 2017 status update followed the five- component system specified in the ‘Pacific Guidelines’ as references in providing an update of the status of ECCE across the Pacific region. This report described positive developments as well as challenges related to improving early childhood education in the Pacific countries such as policies and legislation; human resources; curriculum; child assessment; teaching and learning environment; performance monitoring and assessment; and, family and community partnerships. The report also provided a snapshot of the status of ECCE in the region, identifying commonalities among countries as well as gaps and areas of improvement.

Also in 2017, recognizing the need for intersectoral collaboration to get the best outcomes for the Pacific’s youngest people, Ministers of Education met with ministerial colleagues from Health, Child Service and Finance agencies to discuss the broader mandate of multi-sectoral Early Childhood Development. This meeting drafted the Pasifika Call for Action for ECD as a pathway towards school readiness for Pacific children.

In response to this, at the 2018 Forum Education Ministers Meeting in Nauru, Ministers recognized the Call to Action and “agreed to convert Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE) into the Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Development (PRC4ECD),5 to emphasis the importance of multi-sectoral Coordination to ensure children have the best start in life and are able to learn successfully in school.” The Pacific Early Learning Taskforce was established within the PRC4ECD to focus on matters pertaining to early learning within this multi-sectoral approach.

General findings from 2021 status update revealed wide discrepancies in the quality of the ECE subsector across Pacific Island countries. Countries such as Fiji, Cook Islands, Niue, and Nauru were more advanced, with relatively strong government support for ECE, while other countries faced challenges in funding, workforce development, and quality promotion in ECE and other such areas The 2017 status update showed improvement in ECE coverage levels compared to the 2015 status report although coverage levels remained below 50 percent in many countries. Countries have responded to these challenges through diverse approaches. Countries are currently mainstreaming the ECE sub-sector in education sector plans and EMIS systems, expanding budgets for ECE and registering centres based on ECE quality standards for example. Some are revising ECE curricula reflecting contextualized expectations for learning and development, and readiness for Grade 1, and working on professional Development Strategies for ECE teachers. ECE has been integrated in contingency plans, learning continuity strategies, and emergency response. As Pacific Island countries and their partners seek to scale up quality ECE, for supporting strong foundations for all children it is critical that these efforts be guided by a strong, comprehensive and systemic vision that is integral to education sector plans, including in emergencies.

How can you make a difference?

The purpose of this consultancy is to work in collaboration with the Pacific Early Learning Taskforce to develop, validate and finalize a 2021 status update on ECE. The update will be building from the 2015 baseline and 2017 status update reports but will adopt an expanded scope to capture the status of ECE subsector including strengths, challenges and programme priorities across all the core functions defined above, across all the countries. In addition, the status update will also analyze key enabling environment factors, which refers to a broad set of interrelated factors that affect the development of a robust and effective ECE subsector, including the ability to achieve intended programme goals. These enabling environment factors include ministerial leadership, legislations, public demand and financing. Strategies to address equity and specific challenges in equitable provision of ECE particularly to students with a disability and those in different geographical areas should also be included. All relevant cross-sectoral issues across WASH, Child Protection, health, nutrition, early childhood development, social protection and innovation which affect ECE subsector will be analyzed in the status update. Learning from the process of the 2017 report compilation of ensuring the validity and rigors of any survey tools developed/used and the understanding of respondents along with the investment in forming relationships with national ECE focal points should be considered at inception and planning of methodology.

Scope of Work

The report will provide current status and progress related to ECE in the region, citing commonalities among countries and identifying gaps, strengths, priorities and areas of improvement. It is expected to provide insights on positive developments as well as gaps and challenges across core functions and enabling environments for ECE as described above, with evidence-based recommendations toward a practical vision for regional and national action to expanding equitable access to and improving quality of ECE in Pacific Island Countries (PIC). In order to achieve this, the following work is envisaged: 1) Review of Literature and Proposal for 2021 Status Update Report - Review of Literature- Conduct technical review of previous ECE status update reports and other documentation including but not limited to; available data on ECE in Pacific, Global report on pre-primary education, Global ECE accelerator tools, Pacific Guidelines on Developing National ECD Quality Framework and other relevant documents and data. Based on review of literature and in consultation with UNICEF and Pacific Regional Early Learning Taskforce, develop a proposal for the 2021 status report clearly defining the overall approach and methodology for the assignment including tools for Data Collection, key stakeholders, workplan and structure and description of the status report. The methodology must allow for ongoing inputs from the Pacific Early Learning Taskforce. Consideration in the methodology should also be given to: a) Mapping of key indicators for ECE- This action supports the identification and mapping of the indicators to be included in the status update so that they can be consolidated and assessed. New indicators may also be considered during the process, which may emerge as critical data points to be included in the status update.

b) Consultation and Data collection – Outline the processes and tools for data collection and Analysis. This will include, but is not limited to, consultation and discussions with key partners and focal points within Ministries of Education for collecting data. Any new tools developed should be shared with UNICEF Pacific and the Early Learning Taskforce prior to use for feedback on validity. Known innovative practices from PICs may also be documented.

The consultant is expected to consult the early learning task force at all stages of development of the proposal including validation of the tools for data collection.

2) First Draft of Status Report- Based on the outcomes of consultations, the data and information collected and the data from 2017 report, analyse and synthesize information to provide clear picture of status of ECE and identify key ECE priorities, challenges and areas of improvement in PICs. Develop draft version of the status update report, which will be reviewed by UNICEF and a range of key partners including the Pacific Early Learning Taskforce and focal points in PICTs. Participate in consultations to gather and document the feedback on the draft 3) Second Draft of Report- Based on the feedback provided in the first draft, revise the report and develop a second draft. The consultant may be expected to present the second draft to the Pacific Early Learning Taskforce, UNICEF and other partners for final review and feedback.

4) Final Report and Power Point Presentation- Based on the feedback received finalize the report for submission, develop a power point presentation of the report to support dissemination of the findings.

The consultancy will be supervised Chief of Education and Education Specialist (Early Learning Systems). Final approval of deliverable and payments would be done by Chief of Education.

Work Assignment Overview

1. Tasks/Milestone: Literature Review, Initial Early Learning Taskforce Consultations & Development of methodology Deliverables/Outputs: Proposal for 2021 status update report 2. Tasks/Milestone: Ongoing consultations with Taskforce and country focal points, Data collection, review and analysis (incl. identification of data gaps), Development and presentation of draft report.

Deliverables/Outputs: First and Second Draft of the Report 3. Tasks/Milestone: Collate and synthesis feedback including any further agreed data collection/analysis, Development of power point to support dissemination, Present final report Deliverables/Outputs Final Report and PowerPoint Presentation To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An advanced university degree in Education - preferably with early learning focus
  • Extensive experience in the ECE sub-sector and understanding of related frameworks and guidelines.
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Ability to synthesis multiple sources and types of data Knowledge of the Pacific region
  • Fluency in English is required.
For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

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.


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.

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