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Local Consultancy on Evaluation of the “Establishment of Early Learning Model in Tumanyan Community” project, Armenia

Yerevan (Armenia)

The purpose of this summative evaluation is to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of interventions under the “Establishment of Early Learning Model in Tumanyan Community” project with a focus on pre-school services responding to the needs of children 3-6 and their families in 2 of targeted regions of Armenia. The model aimed at addressing equity gaps in access to quality early education services. Hence, the overall aim (impact level) of the evaluation is to assess the pilot initiatives and approaches providing evidence on the preliminary impact and the effectiveness of the project at the community and regional level, in order to be able to develop evidence-based policies and action plans, and advocate for the replication and scaling-up of the model in other small communities of Armenia. Just as importantly, the evaluation should assess the quality and applicability of the Armenian model to be used in other middle-income countries for small communities.

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, 

UNICEF globally promotes alternative early learning models that emphasize child development and early learning. This model has proven to be relevant and cost-effective for reaching ‘hard to reach’ communities where government-run preschools do not exist or are too remote to access. The concept of the alternative model is based on international research, which suggests that duration (period in preschool in years) rather than just intensity (hours in the day), is the key to successful outcomes. At the same time, there is evidence that investment in early childhood education can be considered a strategy for a country’s economic development, yielding economic returns on investment.

Early childhood development is a top national priority. The Armenian State Programme for Education Development 2030  was developed and submitted to the Government of Armenia highlighting among other priorities provision of high-quality and affordable preschool education services, with special emphasis on the involvement of children from needy families in preschool education, effective preparation of senior preschool age children (five to six years old) for elementary education, provision of equal opportunities for girls and boys to continue to basic school education. However, currently real investment in early childhood development in Armenia, including establishment of new services, is critically low.

UNICEF in Armenia and the Government of Armenia have identified making progress towards the realization of the rights of girls and boys aged 0-6 years and their families to quality and inclusive early learning services, as well as development of statutory needs-based services to disadvantaged families to realize the right of a child to live in caring, protecting and resilient family environments as one of the key strategic programme areas in the 2016-2020 Country Programme Document. Thus UNICEF works towards supporting the Government of Armenia in early childhood development as part of its programmatic work.

The public administration system of the Republic of Armenia consists of two tiers of government: national and local. Each of them is responsible for the defined set of obligations. Particularly, in the education area the national government is responsible for general and higher education while the local self-government bodies are responsible for pre-school education. That means the organization and delivery of pre-school education services should be financed from the municipal budgets.

The Community Consolidation Programme in Armenia started in 2016, aiming at reducing administrative costs and increasing the effectiveness of community-based services and social policy implementation at the local level. It is expected that assets and resources saved through the consolidation of the communities, generated mostly by local taxes, payments and subventions from the state budget shall be withheld from administrative expenditures and earmarked for social services. However, in pre-school and general education sectors that are under the responsibility of the community and the local self-government, community consolidation did not resolve issues of access to pre-school education.

Taking into account the capacities of the municipal budgets[1] it became obvious that most of the municipalities, especially the rural ones, could not afford maintenance of pre-school education services. The official statistics states that in Armenia there are 713 kindergartens of which 428 in urban (attending 57.0 thousand children) and 285 in rural areas (attending 15.7 thousand children)[2]. For the rural areas, the pre-school attendance rate[3] is 16%, which means that a limited number of rural children has an opportunity to benefit from pre-school education. There are even small rural communities where there is no preschool at all. Furthermore, the area of pre-school education service is regulated by a number of laws and legal acts which set the standards for the delivery of pre-school education services and make it quite costly for small municipalities. In small communities where the number of preschool aged children is below 15, regular or school-based preschool services are not cost-effective and represent a burden on the small community budget, because of which children in these areas do not have access to early learning services. In those circumstances, it was considered justified to have an alternative early learning service which enables communities to have early education at a comparatively low cost, reach out to vulnerable groups of children and create opportunities for them to have the best possible start in life.


[1] In 2015 the share of municipal budget expenditures in consolidated budget of Armenia was 8.9.

[2] Education and Culture, Statistical Yearbook of Armenia 2015, NSS RA, 2015

[3] Share of children attending pre-school institutions (in % of total number of children of corresponding age).

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this summative evaluation is to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of interventions under the “Establishment of Early Learning Model in Tumanyan Community” project with a focus on pre-school services responding to the needs of children 3-6 and their families in 2 of targeted regions of Armenia.  

The model aimed at addressing equity gaps in access to quality early education services. Hence, the overall aim (impact level) of the evaluation is to assess the pilot initiatives and approaches providing evidence on the preliminary impact and the effectiveness of the project at the community and regional level, in order to be able to develop evidence-based policies and action plans, and advocate for the replication and scaling-up of the model in other small communities of Armenia. Just as importantly, the evaluation should assess the quality and applicability of the Armenian model to be used in other middle-income countries for small communities.

The specific objectives of the evaluation aim to assess:

  1. whether the project has been successful in achieving its key outputs and outcomes established in the project action plan and logical framework, primarily related to their coherence and suitability in addressing the pre-school needs of children, as well as its secondary effect on gender roles in the community;
  2. how far the project has been able to address the issues of sustainability of the interventions, including changes in policy and practice through documentation of successes, challenges and lessons learnt;
  3. what are the recommendations, good practices and gaps in approaches to guide policy level decision-making by relevant stakeholders and international development agencies on child rights issues and CRC in implementation of alternative pre-school education;
  4. what are the lessons learnt and challenges to scale-up the model and to enforce identical initiatives in other consolidated communities in a cost-effective manner, in line with the RA Government programme 2017-2022.

The knowledge generated by the evaluation should be used by:

  • UNICEF in Armenia to further enlarge and improve its programmatic activities in this field;
  • Authorities and other partners to improve their efforts on children’s early development rights based on the results and recommendations suggested;
  • Ministries of Education and Science and Territorial Administration and Development to scale-up of the model in other consolidated communities in a cost-effective manner, in line with the RA Government programme 2017-2022.

Evaluation findings and recommendations will be used by national stakeholders to strengthen their capacity for child rights monitoring on ECD and relevant oversight function, including advocacy role and to influence child related policies and programmes in preschool education. Moreover, the costing and cost-benefit analysis, as well as teachers’ and community leaders’ manual will build local capacity for identification of needs and development of appropriate services.

Evaluation findings and recommendations will be used to improve intersectoral coordination for realization and protection of children’s rights at national and community level through enhancing coordination roles of relevant decision makers at the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development and Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The evaluation will promote further cross-sectoral aspects of the project through joint working sessions and meetings that are planned to take place during the evaluation mission.

A Reference group will be set up to support and oversee the evaluation comprised of national counterparts from Ministry of Education of RA and Regional Authorities working in the field of education together with UNICEF staff. Conducting the evaluation in a participatory manner and involving relevant stakeholders at key stages of the evaluation will also contribute to building evaluation capacity.

Supervisor:

The consultant will be supervised and report to the UNICEF M&E/ Child Rights Specialist, UNICEF Deputy Representative and UNICEF Representative about the progress of the consultancy. The consultant will closely work with UNICEF Education Specialist and Social Protection Specialist who managed and were directly involved in the project design and implementation.

The consultant will work on daily basis with UNICEF M&E team through e-mail correspondence, phone, face-to-face briefings and consultations, as well as provide support whenever needed.

Deliverables:

The evaluator is expected to produce and submit the following deliverables:

  1. 10 September, 2018 - Inception report with detailed implementation plan and methodology including but not limited to: a) work plan; b) a stakeholder map; c) the evaluation matrix (including the final set of evaluation questions listed by domains and indicators), d) survey instrument (questionnaire) with pretest methodology and the sample, e) the overall evaluation design with a detailed description of the data collection plan and the timetable for the field phase;
  2. 5 November, 2018 - First and second draft (final) evaluation reports with a debriefing document (two-three pages overview/PPP handouts) synthesizing the main preliminary findings, conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation, to be presented and discussed with UNICEF in Armenia management and the Reference Group based on the completed data collection, field trips to Tumanyan, Lori and Syunik administrative office, stakeholder mapping,
  3. 3 December, 2018 - Final report developed with all the comments addressed (the report with the Executive Summary should be maximum 50 pages, excluding annexes) and presentation of evaluation findings for key stakeholders (Power Point presentation).

The Evaluation Report is proposed to have the following structure, to be reviewed once the consultant is selected:

Opening pages

Executive Summary

Chapter I Background, Object and Methodology

1.1.   Introduction

1.2.   Object of the Evaluation

1.3.   Purpose, Objectives and Scope of the Evaluation

1.4.   Evaluation Methodology

1.5.   Major Limitations

1.6.   Ethical considerations, Human Rights and Gender

Chapter II Overview of the Action and Context

2.1    Main areas of intervention

2.2    Logic of intervention (ToC)

2.3    Management and Governance Structure

2.4    Partnerships

2.5    Migration and development – focus on social protection

Chapter III Analysis and Findings

3.1    Overall context

3.2    Baseline and end-survey results

3.3    Relevance

3.4    Effectiveness

3.5    Efficiency

3.6    Sustainability

3.7    Impact

3.8    Cross-cutting topics

Chapter IV Conclusions and Recommendations

4.1 Conclusions and Lessons Learned

4.2. Recommendations

Chapter V ANNEXES

  1. Terms of Reference
  2.  Desk Review and Background Documents
  3.  List of Stakeholders Interviewed
  4. Detailed Methodology
  5. Interview Guides and Survey Instrument
  6. Information on Evaluation team
  7. Evaluation matrix
  8. Results framework
  9. Output tables

All deliverables will be drafted in English, but should be translated and submitted both in English and in Armenian. All reports should follow the structure and detailed outlines discussed and agreed with UNICEF in Armenia.

UNICEF reserves the right to withhold all or a portion of payment if performance is unsatisfactory, if work/outputs is incomplete, not delivered or for failure to meet deadlines (fees reduced due to late submission: 20 days - 10%; 1 month-20%; 2 months-50%; more 2 months – payment withhold). All materials developed will remain the copyright of UNICEF and that UNICEF will be free to adapt and modify them in the future. This ToR is an integral part of the contract (SSA) signed with the consultant.

Time-Frame:

 The evaluation is expected to take place during the period of August – December, 2018.

The selected individual consultant/evaluator will work for the period of 70 work days within 4-5 months (August – December 2018).

It is envisaged that the evaluation will cover the 2 target regions including 12 communities. The exact schedule of the activities will be agreed with the consultant based on the consultancy implementation progress. 

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

  • University degree in Social Sciences, Economics and relevant field.
  • More than 5 years of experience in the field of social-economic development and analysis.
  • Expertise in project level evaluations.
  • Knowledge of the Pre-school education and child protection system in Armenia is an asset.
  • Knowledge of equity and gender equality issues.
  • Knowledge on territorial administration and community based services is an asset.
  • Familiarity with donor-funded development projects, preferably with UN agencies.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, good presentation skills.
  • Excellent analytical and facilitation skills.
  • Past experience in evaluation report writing.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in multicultural teams.
  • Demonstrated gender competency.
  • Excellent Armenian and English written and speaking skills.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s core values of Commitment, Diversity and Integrity and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

View our competency framework at

http://www.unicef.org/about/employ/files/UNICEF_Competencies.pdf

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.

Procedures and logistics:

All travel expenses whenever the consultant will be required to travel within Armenia should be covered by the Consultant. UNICEF in Armenian does not provide travel expenses, or arrange health insurance coverage for the consultant.

All expenses related to printing, copying, data-collection and other support services should be covered by the consultant. Consultant is solely responsible for the quality of the work to UNICEF.

UNICEF in Armenia reserves the right not to pay the Contractor or withhold part of the payable amount if one or more requirements established for this assignment is not met or deadline set for the accomplishment of the tasks is missed.

Terms of the application

The deadline for the submission of applications is 1st August 2018. Applications should include:

  • CV;
  • Cover letter;
  • Brief Concept note not exceeding 3 pages, describing the approach and suggestions for the evaluation;
  • Proposed budget of all-inclusive fee in AMD, including separate lines for the consultancy fee and travel costs (e.g. travel, translation, data-collection assistance, printing etc.), as deemed necessary for the assignment).

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

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.
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  • Organization: UNICEF - United Nations Children’s Fund
  • Location: Yerevan (Armenia)
  • Grade: International Consultant - Internationally recruited Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Monitoring and Evaluation
    • Social Affairs
    • Civil Society and Local governance
    • Education, Learning and Training
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: 2018-08-06

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