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  • Organization: UNICEF - United Nations Children’s Fund
  • Location: Honiara
  • Grade: Consultant - Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Children's rights (health and protection)
  • Closing Date: 2019-07-24

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International ECD Consultant, Solomon Islands

Honiara (Solomon Islands)

UNICEF Pacific is seeking to hire a consultant with expertise in Early Childhood Development to develop a report (30-50 pages) on ECD coordination in Solomon Islands. If you would like to know more please check out the detailed vacancy bulletin.

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, secure future 

Scores of young children in Solomon Islands are failing to develop optimally. At 33 per cent, Solomon Islands has the highest childhood stunting rate in the Pacific, with significant disparities between rural and urban areas, and between rich and poor households. Increasing access to improved water and sanitation remains a key challenge in the country, especially in rural areas, where only 30 per cent of households have access to improved sanitation facilities. At 54 per cent, open defecation rates are the highest across the Pacific. The net enrolment ratio in early education stands at only 39 per cent. Kindergartens are mainly operated by local communities and only around 50 per cent of early childhood centers in Solomon Islands are formally registered with the government. Despite legal provisions, children experience violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, including in homes, schools and communities. 72 per cent of parents reported having used violent or physical discipline against children in their households.

Investments in young children are necessary if Solomon Islands is to secure inclusive and sustainable national development. ECD investments pave the way for healthier and more productive populations, with potential returns that far exceed costs. High-quality programmes in the early years have cumulative effects on later academic achievement, health, and adult productivity. Inadequate nutrition, stress, and diminished learning environments undermine the optimal development of the growing brain, with lifelong repercussions. At the broader level, studies show that investments in young children yield dividends through a stronger workforce, better health, and lower crime rates. Empirical studies also demonstrate that ECD interventions are most effective when they take a multi-sectoral, coordinated approach. Experts underscore the importance of 'nurturing care' in the early years - encompassing health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and early learning - as a vital ingredient for high-quality ECD services. Given all these, ECD has been made a priority in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with SDG target 4.2 demanding from nations like Solomon Islands that "by 2030, all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education." ECD is also contained in the other SDGs: target 2.2 for nutrition, target 3.2 for health, and target 16.2 for protection and peace. ECD also has multiplier effects across all the other SDGs, contributing to poverty alleviation, gender equality, and the reduction of inequality.

UNICEF is supporting Solomon Islands in strengthening its ECD system, including improving its coordination mechanism for ECD. This springs in-part from the mandate given to UNICEF at the 2017 Pacific ECD Conference, as Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Development (PRC4ECD), to follow up on the implementation of the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD, a nine-point action agenda that lays out critical national efforts to secure the optimal development of young children. The Pasifika Call to Action on ECD was endorsed by all Pacific Island countries present at the conference, including Solomon Islands. UNICEF support to Solomon Islands is also funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT) as part of a region-wide project called "Building Better Brains".

The Solomon Islands has a multi-sectoral strategy for children, although coordination and implementation across sectors is informal and limited. An integrated multi-sectoral approach on children is explicit in the National Children's Policy and the National Plan of Action. In addition, there is a multi-sectoral task force called the National Advisory and Action Committee on Children (NAACC), established by the government in 1995, to monitor and advocate for children's rights. NAACC serves as the institutional anchor for children and is comprised of various ministries and stakeholders. The Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYFA) is the lead ministry for coordination and maintains regular consultation with other government ministries (on education and health) and key stakeholders. However, the linkages and coordination among sectors are not clearly or properly implemented.

On October 26, 2018, the Solomon Islands government, with support from UNICEF, hosted the National Early Childhood Development (ECD) Forum, in Honiara, Solomon Islands, with the theme "ECD: Building Human Resource Capital, Redirecting the Next 40 Years". It was a one-day high-level gathering for key government officials, development partners and stakeholders to further their understanding of and commitment towards high-quality, equitable, and inclusive ECD in the country. There was a total of 48 participants from across the sectors of health, education, finance, child protection, and provincial government - a first gathering of its kind in the country. Among other things, the ECD Forum participants agreed to convene an ECD task team, with nominated representatives from the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD), Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), MWCYFA, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MOFT), Ministry of National Development Planning and Coordination ( MNDPC) Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Provincial Government. The task team's goal is to produce next steps in an organized manner, including submission of a White Paper for Cabinet (initial target was by December 2018, although this was not met). UNICEF offered to provide the secretariat role for the team. The white paper was to include a mapping and review of existing governance structures for ECD, including functions, delivery mechanisms, and legislative frameworks (including a review of the National Advisory Committee on Children (NAACC)) and to evaluate possible models of coordination. Of note are the remarks of Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, that careful consideration should be extended in setting up coordination mechanisms, as there are already several mechanisms for coordination in government and vertical structures should not undermine the effectiveness of the whole.

In addition, UNICEF is supporting Guadalcanal province with a comprehensive ECD programme. Guadalcanal is one of Solomon Island's nine provinces located in the southeast part of the country. ECD outcomes in Guadalcanal show many young children deprived of their rights to optimal development. The province has the highest rates of stunting in the country, with 36 per cent of children stunted. The province also has one of the lowest pre-primary enrolment rates. Only one parent in 62 per cent of households is engaged in early learning activities. Many children are exposed to and affected by domestic violence. And only about one fourth of children under the age of five have a birth certificate - the only official documentation to prove their legal existence and access to services. Moreover, Guadalcanal province accounts for the biggest share of persons living in poverty in Solomon Islands (considering absolute numbers), given that it has higher poverty risk as well as larger population size. The main objective of the UNICEF-supported project is to strengthen the sub-national ECD system of Guadalcanal province to deliver quality services that support the holistic development of young children aged 0-5 and their parents. This includes establishing and strengthening a provincial coordination mechanism for ECD (through the Guadalcanal Provincial Authority), training frontline ECD workers, and empowering parents, caregivers and community actors to provide holistic care for their young children and to demand high-quality ECD services.

How can you make a difference?

To develop a report (30-50 pages) on ECD coordination in Solomon Islands. This should include a high-level mapping of the existing governance structures for multi-sectoral ECD - including functions, delivery mechanisms and legislative frameworks, to review new and existing models of coordination for government, including links between national and sub-national coordination, and then to propose next steps for Solomon Islands government.

The report should have a detailed segment on sub-national coordination in Guadalcanal province. National level coordination provides the mandate for inter-sectoral coordination through policies and regulations. The sub-national level operationalizes the coordination or integration of service delivery - all the way to the communities and children's homes. There should be clear linkages between both, meanwhile recognizing that the contexts may differ with priorities, institutional arrangements, and financing modalities.

While the report is an extensive documentation of the findings, highlights of this report should be developed into a draft white paper for submission to Solomon Islands cabinet, as per the mandate in the 2018 National ECD Forum.

Objectives: The consultancy supports the goal of improved strategic governance, coordination, management and service delivery of ECD in Solomon Islands.

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

  • Advance university degree in social policy, politics, development studies, or a relevant field in early childhood development;
  • At least 5 years of experience in policy planning or system development, experience in ECD policy planning preferred


The individual selected must be able to demonstrate the following education, training, experience, skills and attitudes:

  • Knowledge of the field of early childhood development is essential;
  • Proven experience in public policy, planning or systems development; experience in multi-sectoral coordination of ECD in other countries considered an asset;
  • Proven experience in participatory and consultative processes, including with high-level stakeholders;
  • Strong report writing and analytical skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural environment and establish harmonious and effective working relationships, both within and outside the work place


  • Fluency in written and spoken English required; familiarity with Pijin an asset.
  • Advance university degree in social policy, politics, development studies, or a relevant field in early childhood development;
  • At least 5 years of experience in policy planning or system development, experience in ECD policy planning preferred


Applicants must submit: (i) a cover letter including: a narrative explaining why they are qualified for this consultancy and dates of availability; (ii) financial offer (professional fee for 44 days, travel (place of recruitment - Suva - place of recruitment, living allowance during week of preparations in Suva); (iii) scan of highest degrees. (iv) examples of previous work relevant to the consultancy.

Detailed Terms of Reference: Download File TOR ECD Consultant_Solomon Islands.docx

For every Child, you demonstrate…

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, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
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.

What does it mean?

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