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UNICEF Zimbabwe is inviting proposals from individual international consultants for the provision of Technical Assistance for Development of Early Reading Materials

Harare (Zimbabwe)

The purpose of this consultancy is to strengthen families’ support of young child early learning and emergent literacy development in a holistic manner through development of developmentally appropriate children’s story books with key messages for parents.

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.

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1.      Background & Rationale


The latest statistics in Zimbabwe show that majority of out-of-school children are the 3-5 year olds who do not attend the ECD A & B classes in the country.  Of the total 3-5 year old child population, only 33.02% are enrolled in ECD classes (EMIS, 2016).  Some of the reasons for children not attending include long distances from home to schools, unaffordable school fees and lack of awareness among parents on the importance of early learning to school readiness and development of the young children’s literacy and numeracy skills,  Recognising that school readiness is considered to be a powerful framework for improving equity in access to education and affecting learning outcomes, especially for marginalized children, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) in its 2016-2020 education sector strategic plan (ESSP), has identified the following goal for supporting early childhood development in the sector “Increased access at ECD and increased enrolment rates at all levels especially for the vulnerable (OVC)”.


MoPSE also recognises the important role that parents and families can play to better support children’s early learning and emergent literacy development both at home and in school.  This is also supported by strong research where supportive parenting and stimulating home environments have been shown to be among the strongest predictors of school performance during primary school and beyond (Bradley and Corwyn 2005; Burchinal et al. 2002; Morrison and Cooney 2002; Richter 2004; Rogoff 2003; Werner and Smith 2001; Whiting and Edwards 1988). The learning environment provided in the home – as indicated by parents’ engagement with their children in learning activities such as singing, reading books, telling stories and playing games – is considered to be one of the characteristics of ready families.


Children’s readiness for school and early academic success are influenced by parental involvement and the home environment. Experiences such as reading or book sharing, and having routines for meals and bedtimes promote school readiness by encouraging emotional, social and cognitive development in children.[1] Education efforts are needed to increase parents’ awareness and understanding of holistic care that includes health, nutrition and protection, and the relationship between early childhood experiences and later school readiness. Research also shows that home provides the earliest learning environment for developing vocabulary and providing exposure to print.


Thus, understanding how the home literacy environment contributes to the development of important language and emergent literacy skills is critical in promoting successful literacy acquisition as well as preventing reading failure.


The United Nations World Fit for Children (WFFC) mission statement of 2002 provides a current concept of “school readiness”, namely, a good start in life, in a nurturing and safe environment that enables children to survive and be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and able to learn. The WFFC goals highlight the importance of a caring, safe and stimulating environment for the holistic development of young children.


UNICEF plans to focus on children who do not have access to early childhood development and education services and strengthen family support to provide both developmentally appropriate practices that would nurture and prepare their young children holistically for school, and support their participation in the early learning programmes in schools.  It is in light of the above that UNICEF Zimbabwe requires the technical assistant of a consultant to develop early reading materials to strengthen support of young child early learning



2.  Objective


The purpose of this consultancy is to strengthen families’ support of young child early learning and emergent literacy development in a holistic manner through development of developmentally appropriate children’s story books with key messages for parents.


3.  Scope of Work


Under the supervision of the Chief Education with support from MOPSE Infant Director::

  • Work closely with key staff at MoPSE and other sectors to develop the plan for production of children’s story books.
  • Through a consultative and participatory workshop, support development of at least 10 developmentally and culturally appropriate illustrated children’s books for 0-3 and 3-5 children with key messages for parents to be developed in the three languages (English, Shona and Ndebele).
  • With participants develop strategy for utilization of the books and how they can be implemented effectively by parents 
  • Guide field testing of the materials developed.
  • Finalize text, graphics and design of the products.
  • Prepare a final report on processes and work completed with key recommendations for next steps on possible expansion.


4.            Methodology


The general approach to the assignment involves capacity development of the participants from various sectors in developing appropriate children’s story books that will also have key messages for parents to support their young child development particularly their emergent literacy development. Consultation with other sectors such as health, nutrition, child protection and WASH in addition to CSOs and organisations of people with disabilities is also essential to ensure the key messages and stories address holistic development of young child while nurturing its emergent literacy development.


6.            Major Tasks, Deliverables & Timeframe


The consultant will be expected to successfully complete the following key tasks, shown in the table below:



Major task




Prepare an inception report that presents in detail the consultant’s understanding of the tasks involved, the strategy for developing the 10 children’s story books, proposed participants for the production workshop, strategy for field testing the materials and proposed utilization and distribution to families.  The inception report should also include a Design detailed production workshop plan including equipment needed with budget and facilitate selection of key participants that represent inclusive cross section of the society (maximum 60 participants)

Deliverable No. 1: Inception report

19 November 2018


Conduct 6 day production workshop and provide guidelines for field testing

Deliverable No. 2: 

Workshop facilitated

7 December 2018


Provide input into finalization of the content, design, and illustration.

Deliverable No. 3

Final Report with key recommendations on implementation and expansion

21 December 2018



8.            Timeframe

The consultancy will begin upon the signing of the contract, and is for 30 working days spread from 5 November to 21 December 2018.  Five working days will be from own base while 25 days will be in country.

No in-country travel is planned for this consultancy.


9.            Consultancy Requirements

The consultant must have the following qualifications and experience:

  1. A minimum of a Masters Degree in Social Sciences and/or  Communications


  2. At least 10 years international experience in the area of ECD, including knowledge and experience in ECD programme communication with focus on parenting education and strategic advocacy.
  3. Specialization in production of children’s books
  4. Demonstrated experience in producing communication materials for children and parents
  5. Experience in working with governments, NGOs and UN agencies and familiarity with the Pacific culture will be considered an asset.
  6. Experience in conducting participatory workshops and material development and consensus building meetings.
  7. Excellent communication skills; ability to explain complex concepts in a simple manner;
  8. Strong presentation skills in English;
  9. Able to work effectively in a multi-cultural environment and a high sense of integrity.
  10. Very good facilitation and communication (oral and written) skills in English.
  11. Fluency in English required


Application Procedure

If interested and available, please submit your application letter, CV, Technical proposal with  steps the consultant will follow in delivering the intended results. The proposal must also indicate all inclusive financial proposal clearly indicating daily professional fees and travel related costs and any other miscellaneous costs related to technical assistance and support expenses for all phases of work. 


UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.



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: Harare (Zimbabwe)
  • Grade: Consultant - Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Education, Learning and Training
    • Children's rights (health and protection)
  • Closing Date: 2018-08-20

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