International Consultancy for National Early Childhood Education Quality Standards in Laos

Vientiane | Vientiane

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Vientiane, Lao PDR is looking for a qualified international consultant to provide the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in Laos with technical assistance in the development and implementation of national Early Childhood Education (ECE) Quality Standards. In particular, this consultancy focuses on the standards development and implementation from the development phase to the piloting phase based on the MoES work plan for a period of 95 working days from January to May 2017.

Background:

Early childhood is a critical stage of human development. During the first five years of life, significant changes occur in the brain - a child's interactions with his/her parents/caregivers and the wider environment not only literally shape the child's development but also positively and permanently strengthen the ability to learn. Given the importance of the child's development, the international society has brought increased attention to Early Childhood Education (ECE) in recent years. In particular, Early Childhood Development (ECD), including ECE, has become one of the key priorities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Framework.

In Lao PDR, there have been tremendous achievements of participation rates of young children in early learning and development services over the last decade. ECE enrolments rate of 5-year-old children had increased from 16.1% in 2007 to 66% in 2015. In addition, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and Development Partners (DPs) have recently invested in the ECE sub-sector to strengthen the capacity of relevant Ministry staff as well as the system for the ECE teacher training.

However, there still remains a number of constraints to provide quality ECE and care services nationwide. Access to ECE opportunities is very limited in Lao PDR - only 51.2% of new entrants in Grade 1 received pre-school learning before Grade 1 in 2015, with the overwhelming majority of these enrolments in urban areas. Not only access, but quality of ECE is one area of great concern to be urgently addressed in the country. Only 8.9% of the education budget was spent to the ECE sub-sector in2015, majority of which was devoted to recurrent-cost.

The MoES has recently enforced a decree which highlights the provision of the ECE through three different modalities: Kindergarten, Pre-primary schools and Community-based School Readiness (CBSR) centres. These three types of ECE services are recognized in the revised Education Law, and further in the 8th Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP) 2016-2020 which specifies the delivery of quality pre-school education as the government's responsibility as well as its priority. However, to date, there are no consolidated Government policy guidelines related to ECE in the country and this has affected the MOES ability to regulate these services.

In this context, MoES requested UNICEF to provide support to the MOES in the development and implementation of National ECE Quality Standards, which will provide guidance on the minimum conditions expected of educational services for young children. To this end, UNICEF and the MoES, more specifically in close cooperation with Educational Standards Quality Assurance Center (ESQAC) and the ECE Division under the Department of Pre-school and Primary Education (DPPE), have recently finalized the overall framework of the National ECE Quality Standards. Under this framework, it was agreed that three different sets of standards will be developed according to the type of ECE services (kindergarten; pre-primary and CBSR), but in a coherent way. UNICEF's support will include the overall development of ECE quality standards with a particular focus on the standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres. In addition, UNICEF will assist the MoES in the establishment of an efficient, effective and sustainable supervision mechanism, reporting and quality assurance system to support the implementation of the standards.

Objectives of Assignment:

The primary objective of this assignment is to provide the MoES with technical assistance in the development and implementation of the two sets of ECE quality standards, which are to be endorsed by the MoES at a later stage, particularly from the development phase to the piloting phase based on the MoES work plan. Also, this assignment aims to enhance knowledge of relevant Ministry staff on the process/methodologies of developing and implementing education quality standards in their own context and eventually to enable them to manage all the processes.

As a result of this assignment, two specific and respective quality standards focusing on pre-primary schools and CBSR centres, and their implementation and quality assurance plans will be developed in line with the 2016-2020 ESDP. Such standards will serve as a guideline for the MoES and other DPs working especially in the ECE sub-sector to make sure of quality early learning in Lao PDR.

This work will be coordinated under the Education Sector Working Group, and in particular the Early Childhood Education Technical Working Group (ECE TWG), in order to ensure that there is ownership from the Ministry and DPs.

Scope of Work/Work Assignments:

Development of two sets of standards: 1) pre-primary schools and 2) CBSR centres, with integrated implementation and quality assurance plans

1) The consultant will first conduct a comprehensive desk review on a) current situation of ECE in Lao PDR; b) existing law, decrees, policies, strategies, regulations, School Readiness Competencies and school curricula related to ECE; c) the overall framework of the National ECE Quality Standards, the draft Kindergarten standards developed by the MoES to make an alignment of those with the standards of pre-primary schools and CBSR centers, and the Primary Education Quality Standards; and d) examples of other countries with similar contexts, especially those in low-resourced ECE contexts, and their education systems to draw implications and suggestions that should be addressed to ensure quality ECE in Lao context.

2) Subsequently, field visits to three geographically different provinces will be requested - one in central, one in northern and one in southern part of the country – to meet with the relevant local authorities and visit some of the pre-primary schools and CBSR centres to better understand the current situation and the environment of the ECE service across the provinces. The field visits will also help identify efficient and effective mechanisms for the implementation and quality assurance of the standards.

3) The consultant will prepare and deliver a 1-day seminar to the relevant MoES staff on a) general concepts, key theories and recent/global trends of ECE; and b) standards setting especially for ECE and quality assurance of the standards in low-resourced context to strengthen their knowledge.

4) Based on the key findings and recommendations of the desk review and the field visits, the consultant will first develop a specific framework for the standards development of pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively. Once agreed with the MoES on the respective framework, complete draft standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres will be developed, along with drafts implementation and quality assurance plans for stakeholders' review and inputs.

5) Thereafter, the consultant will prepare and facilitate a consultation workshop with the MoES and other DPs through ECE TWG for consensus building, technical reviews and feedback on the two sets of draft standards and drafts implementation and quality assurance plans. After the consultation workshop, the consultant will finalize all these drafts for the piloting.

Development of guidelines along with self-assessment tools for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres to apply/use standards and to assess the quality of education at school/centre level

1) Based on the two sets of draft standards, the consultant will develop draft guidelines with self-assessment tools to help pre-primary schools and CBSR centres not only apply/use the standards on the ground but also assess the quality of education by themselves.

2) The consultant will be requested to support the MoES in preparation and implementation of a pre-field testing of the draft guidelines and self-assessment tools with actual users (e.g. school principals, teachers, village facilitators and Village Education Development Committee (VEDC) members in one of the sampled provinces/districts. The purpose of this pre-field testing is to validate if the guidelines and self-assessment tools are understandable, useable and practicable by the users.

3) Subsequently, the consultant will analyze the results of the pre-field testing, which will be presented to the MoES in a 1-day consultation workshop to be facilitated by the consultant. After the consultation workshop, the consultant will finalize draft guidelines and self-assessment tools for the piloting.

Development of an initial implementation (piloting) plan of the two sets of standards for the sampled provinces/districts and conduct of workshop and training at central level

1) The consultant will be partially engaged in the initial implementation phase of the two sets of the standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres. Specifically, based on the draft implementation plan, the consultant will design an initial implementation (piloting) plan.

2) The consultant will also be asked to develop training packages to help the MoES prepare for the piloting. This training packages will include: a) workshop modules with the subject of monitoring, supervision and quality assurance of the standards by using implementation and quality assurance plans to be developed - the targets are relevant DPPE and ESQAC staff, Provincial Education and Sports Service (PESS) and District Education and Sports Bureau (DESB) officials; b) two separate ToT (Training of Trainers) modules on how to implement the standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively – the targets are the DPPE, PESS and DESB officials who are especially in charge of ECE; and c) two separate training modules on how to apply/use self-assessment tools, how to measure the indicators and how to report to the Ministry for pre-primary school and CBSR centres respectively – the targets are school principals, teachers, village facilitators of CBSR centres and VEDC members.

3) Subsequently, by using the training packages, the consultant will not only deliver a 2-day workshop with the relevant DPPE and ESQAC staff and PESS and DEBS officials on monitoring, supervision and quality assurance of the standards but also deliver a 5-day ToT with the DPPE, PESS and DESB officials in charge of ECE from the sampled provinces/districts. At a later stage before the actual initial implementation, trainings at sub-national level for school principals, teachers, village facilitators and VEDC members will be conducted by the trained trainers in each of the sampled province/district, however, the delivery of this sub-national trainings is not part of this ToR.

Key Tasks and Expected Outputs:

The assignment will be undertaken over the period of 95 working days from January to May 2017.

Stage 1 (Off-site 10 working days)

Tasks 1: To conduct comprehensive desk review

Output 1: Desk review report available

Tasks 2: To develop consultancy inception report and detailed work plan, including a field visit plan with tools/instruments as an annex of the inception report

Output 2: Consultancy inception report along with the detailed work plan, including a field visit plan drafted

Stage 2 (In-county 35 working days)

Tasks 3: To visit the provincial and district education authorities as well as at least two pre-primary schools and two CBRS centres in each of the three geographically different provinces respectively

Output 3: Field visits to three provinces conducted and a brief report of the field visits drafted

Tasks 4: To prepare and deliver a 1-day seminar to the relevant MoES staff

Output 4: Seminar agenda and materials prepared, the 1-day seminar delivered and a brief report of the seminar drafted

Task 5: To develop a specific standards framework for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively and finalize the frameworks after consultation with the MoES

Output 5: A specific standard framework for pre-primacy schools and CBSR centres developed and finalized

Task 6: To develop two sets of draft standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres

Output 6: Two sets of draft standards developed

Task 7: To develop an implementation plan to establish efficient and effective supervision mechanism and reporting system

Output 7: Draft implementation plan developed

Task 8: To develop a quality assurance plan of the standards

Output 8: Draft quality assurance plan developed

Task 9: To prepare and conduct/facilitate a 3-day consultation workshop with the relevant MoES officials and the ECE TWG on the two sets of draft standards, draft implementation and quality assurance plans

Output 9: Workshop agenda and materials prepared, the 3-day consultation workshop conducted and a brief report of the workshop drafted

Stage 3 (In-country 20 working days)

Task 10: To undertake a technical review of the comments/feedback from the MoES and the ECE TWG collected from the consultation workshop and finalize two sets of standards, implementation and quality assurance plans for the piloting

Output 10: Two sets of standards, implementation and quality assurance plans finalized for the piloting

Task 11: To develop guidelines for teachers and village facilitators to apply/use the standards, including self-assessment tools to assess the quality of education

Output 11: Draft guidelines on how to apply/use the standards developed and self-assessment tools designed

Task 12: To develop a detailed initial implementation plan for the piloting of the standards application

Output 12: Draft initial implementation plan (pilot plan) drafted

Stage 4 (In-county 30 working days)

Task 13: To support the MoES in preparation and implementation of a pre-field testing of the guidelines and self-assessment tools with the actual users in one of the sampled province/district

Output 13: Pre-field testing plan prepared and conducted and a brief report of the pre-field testing drafted

Task 14: To analyze the results of the testing for presentation to the MoES and facilitate a 1-day consultation workshop with the MoES to collect comments/feedback

Output 14: Results of the pre-field testing analyzed, the 1-day consultation workshop prepared and facilitated and a brief report of the workshop drafted

Task 15: To finalize draft guidelines and self-assessment tools for the piloting

Output 15: Draft guidelines and self-assessment tools finalized for the piloting

Task 16: To design and prepare workshop agenda and modules focusing on monitoring, supervision and quality assurance of the standards based on the implementation plan for the relevant DPPE and ESQAC staff as well as PESS and DESB officials from the sampled provinces/districts

Output 16: Workshop agenda and modules available

Task 17: To prepare and deliver a 2-day workshop on monitoring, supervision and quality assurance of the standards

Output 17: A 2-day workshop conducted and a brief report of the workshop drafted

Task 18: To design and prepare two separate ToT modules on how to implement the standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively for DPPE, PESS and DESB officials especially in charge of ECE

Output 18: Two separate ToT modules available

Task 19: To prepare and deliver a 5-day training (ToT) on how to implement the standards for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively

Output 19: A 5-day training (ToT) conducted and a brief report of the ToT drafted

Task 20: To design and prepare two separate training modules on how to apply/use self-assessment tools, how to measure the indicators and how to report to the Ministry for pre-primary schools and CBSR centres respectively for school principals, teachers, village facilitators of CBSR centres and VEDC members

Output 20: Two separate training modules available

Qualifications and experience:

  • A Master's or higher degree in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE) or any other relevant fields required
  • 8 years' professional work experience in ECE
  • Previous experience in developing education quality standards and establishing monitoring system to enhance quality standards in low resources and capacity setting, preferably for ECE, required
  • Experience working with governments, bilateral and multilateral development agencies and civil society organizations preferred
  • Work Experience in developing countries, especially in the South East Asia, will be an asset.
  • Strong communication skills, including both oral and written fluency in English language, required
  • UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization. To apply, click on the following link http://www.unicef.org/about/employ/?job=501501

    Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
    Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
    Apply
    • Organization: UNICEF
    • Location: Vientiane | Vientiane
    • Grade: Junior
    • Occupational Groups:
      • Education and Training
      • Education and Training
      • Education and Training
    • Closing Date: 2016-12-04

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