International Consultant to Improve Learning in South Asia

UN Children's Fund, Karnali, Nepal
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Job Summary

Job Description

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.


While great strides were made in achieving universal primary education, South Asia remains home to a large number of out-of-school children (OOSC) and youth at 28.5 million with 10.3 million at primary (5 – 9 years) and 18.2 million at lower secondary level (10 – 14 years) (UNESCO 2017) and millions of children, particularly from the most deprived and marginalized communities are completing primary education without mastering foundational literacy and numeracy. By the end of 2021, ROSA in partnership with country offices have set an ambitious goal of ensuring 10 million previously OOSC girls and boys are enrolled in pre-primary, primary and secondary and learning in line with the Education SDG 4 and the UNICEF SP Goal Area 2 Every Child Learns.

Focusing on quality of teaching and learning has been a pillar of education programming in many countries of South Asia, and has taken many different forms and a variety of activities and interventions.

In light of the learning crisis in South Asia, the critical need for improving teaching and learning quality, and lack of clarity around how best to do so, UNICEF ROSA has already commissioned two phases of work on education quality.

In 2017, UNICEF ROSA first commissioned a mapping of all UNICEF- supported interventions in recent years aimed at improving education quality (focusing in particular on the Child-Friendly-School (CFS) approach and specific implementation modalities in each South Asian country), to inform UNICEF South Asia’s ongoing efforts and further research in this area. The mapping involved a desk review of available documentation, online surveys, and skype interviews with key informants from UNICEF Country Offices, Field Offices, and key NGO/government partners. Findings were analyzed in order to glean specific recommendations for UNICEF South Asia, and led to the second phase of work building on the mappings’ findings and recommendations: that second phase focused on disseminating the findings and lessons learnt from key evaluations in the field of education quality to all South Asian country offices, it identified some “positive deviants” or outliers which have demonstrated a positive impact on learning, and proposed a reconceptualization of the Child-Friendly-School model for South Asia, based on extensive face to face consultations with 3 country offices: Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. This also largely contributed to the global reflection on the place to give the CFS model within the new UNICEF Global Education Strategy, and formed the evidence base for a reflection paper developed by ROSA Education to inform the Education Quality pillar of the new Global Education Strategy.

Now, building on those two completed pieces of work, this new proposed consultancy has a strong knowledge and evidence dissemination component as well as capacity development aspect, and aims at strengthening the theory of change for learning in South Asia.

An appropriate Education Quality expert with deep knowledge of the specific learning crisis faced by South Asia is therefore needed for the task.


  • UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia is commissioning this study to build upon the Mapping of Quality education programs undertaken in 2017 as well as the second phase of the work done in 2018, which focused on reconceptualizing the Child-Friendly-School model for South Asia, to follow the general recommendations from the two main reports to achieve the following three main objectives:
  • Organize the repackaging and dissemination of the findings from the two phases of previous work on education quality and CFS, through action-oriented briefs and webinars, for the benefit of our CO Education teams
  • Produce two booklets to strengthen UNICEF’s Education Quality programming, focusing on evidence around best value-for-money investments for learning and developing a generic Theory of Change for Learning in South Asia
  • Develop immediate actionable recommendations for UNICEF South Asia’s strategic role in producing education quality improvements leading to better learning outcomes
  • main tasks will be as follows:
  • Produce two concise and ready-to print-reports, working in close collaboration with a designer who is already under contract with UNICEF ROSA Education, building on the reports, briefs, findings and recommendations from the first two phases of the work done by UNICEF ROSA on Education quality. The manager of the consultancy will provide all materials and coordinate the work between the designer and the consultant.
  • Produce a 4 page brief synthesizing the phase 2 findings and recommendations and the reconceptualization of the CFS model
  • Conduct additional interviews in India to collect more evidence on “outliers” in India, i.e working models on the ground which have been shown to produce increased learning outcomes: this will be compiled with the evidence already produced in phase 2 of the work.
  • Facilitate two Webinars, in close collaboration with the consultancy manager, for the benefit of Country Offices (CO) and Field Offices (FO) colleagues, focusing on the CO most strategic priorities for improving learning: their unique strengths, most effective strategies for results, what to cut down, opportunities to review their quality programming.
  • Produce two booklets for strengthening UNICEF’s quality programming in South Asia (about 10-20 pages each): the first one would focus on improving learning in South Asia and would lay down the foundation of a Theory of Change for learning for UNICEF South Asia, the second would focus on reconceptualizing the CFS model, detailing what a learning-centered CFS would mean in practice for all components of the education system.
  • Produce a 2p strategic note based on the above work and additional interviews with key relevant experts, to be discussed with the ROSA Education team, detailing recommendations for UNICEF’s strategic role in quality improvement.

Working Conditions:

  • The consultancy will require to travel to one South Asian country to participate in the Education Network meeting 2019: as the location for the Network Meeting is yet to be decided as well as the number of days for the meeting, at the time of writing this ToR, the location is yet unknown.The rest of the time the consultancy will be home-based, with regular Skype exchanges with the UNICEF ROSA supervisor. The consultant will also be expected to conduct some interviews by Skype with education stakeholders from selected quality programs.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Education:Master’s degree or higher in Education, Economics, Social Sciences or any related field (Required), with specialization in quality-learning and knowledge of the Child Friendly School model a definite plus.Work Experience:
  • Work experience: At least eight years of progressively professional work experience at national or international levels in the area of Education, with greater focus on Education Quality. (Required)


  • Familiarity with the work of UNICEF and/or other similar UN organizations or development agencies working on education and improving learning environments and outcomes for children (Required)
  • Demonstrated capacity to conduct research with an equity focus (Advantageous)
  • Demonstrated ability to engage effectively with education stakeholders at all levels (Advantageous)
  • Good knowledge of the South Asia context in education and equity issues, and previous work in the region for UNICEF a definite plus. (Advantageous)

Language Proficiency: Strong written and verbal communication skills, with demonstrated ability to deliver high-quality written work in the English language. (Required)