Africa Pre-Primary Consortium on Building Better Systems in sub-Saharan Africa Subcontract

Washington, D. C., District of Columbia, United States
Apply by 30 September 2018
Senior-level , Short-term contract assignment
Posted on 2 August 2018

Job Description

Opportunity in Washington, DC

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contracted through ZemiTek partnered with CAMRIS International, to recruit and hire a qualified individual and/or team for the following subcontract:

Title: Africa Pre-Primary Consortium on Building Better Systems in sub-Saharan Africa (Education Subcontract)

United States Agency for International Development/Bureau of Africa/Office of Sustainable Development (SD)/Education Team

With more than 30 years’ experience providing information technology (IT) and management consulting services worldwide, Rosa Caldas, formed ZemiTek in 2007. Based in the Washington, DC metro area, ZemiTek delivers solutions to the federal government by supporting agencies such as USAID, US Patent and Trademark Office, US Department of Justice, US Department of Agriculture, and Department of Homeland Security, among others; and internationally to their missions in Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

CAMRIS International is among the top 20 USAID contractors for the third year in a row. CAMRIS realizes innovative solutions to health and development challenges through high-quality, cost-effective programs and research management services. With experience working in more than 80 countries, CAMRIS combines proven systems with today’s most effective, evidence-based best practices to improve the lives of people around the world.

Background:
Pre-primary education systems are expanding rapidly in many parts of the world. Both state and non-state providers are delivering services to children and families, with several different models and curricular approaches under development. However, in many countries, little systematic information is available on the characteristics of classrooms, including teachers’ training and opportunities for professional development, access to materials and toys, or pedagogical approaches. To lead to impact for children, locally-relevant data must be generated and applied to key policy questions on an on-going basis, with data collected through monitoring systems and applied to professional development. Data are important because reliable, actionable data can focus attention on clear, measurable goals for young children’s learning and development.

Importance of USAID’s partnership with early childhood development (ECD):
Under the current strategy, USAID education programs support host countries to achieve specific, measurable results to improve reading skills for children, strengthen higher education and workforce development programs, and expand access to education in crisis and conflict. USAID’s education programming focuses selectively on areas that the Agency’s research has demonstrated are critical to promoting U.S. and international security and to accelerating economic growth at home and abroad in a cost-efficient manner.

On September 8, 2017, Congress passed P.L. 115-56, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, which calls for USAID to develop a comprehensive international education strategy in consultation with other relevant U.S. Government Agencies. As part of this process, USAID is examining the role of early childhood and pre-primary education to support reading programs.

USAID recognizes that early learning is critical for each students’ personal and academic development. As part of broader programs, USAID has invested in improving kindergarten instruction in reading, mathematics, and socio-emotional skills for multiple populations, including children with disabilities. USAID education specialists actively participate in working groups and research endeavors that focus on ECD, and consistently promote the linkage of instructional programs to evidence-based early childhood interventions. USAID has produced relevant topical research and guides, such as ”

First Principles:
Designing Effective Education Programs for Early Childhood Development,” intended to guide education sector stakeholders-including other donor agencies, government officials, and international and national non-governmental organizations-who may be working on promoting, developing, and implementing ECD and education programs. USAID’s approach is based on encouraging partner governments to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based interventions to promote ECD.

In the sub-Saharan Africa region, access to pre-primary is increasing but at a very slow rate compared to other regions in the world. For example, average pre-primary gross enrollment has increased from 11% in 2000 to 18% in 2013. Enrollment varies widely across countries in Africa, with gross enrollment ranging from less than 5% in Ethiopia to more than 100% in Seychelles, Mauritius, and Ghana. Even where access has expanded, coverage is not equitable. The most disadvantaged children are in the greatest need of support, especially children with disabilities. In addition, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have ECD policies that exist on paper, but very few are implementing these policies as there is a lack of capacity to deliver and regulate quality services.

Proposed lines of work
This Africa Pre-Primary Consortium will engage researchers, experts, and other stakeholders interested in early childhood measurement and address questions of how data can lead to change in ECD.

This project seeks to address the following key questions:
* What technical standards for measures of quality and child development should be met before data are used to inform policy?
* What results do we have on associations between child development, quality, and family backgrounds in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and what does that tell us about how we define and measure quality?
* How can we help countries move from studies of child development and quality to ongoing monitoring systems? What lessons emerge from data on child development and quality that can help inform professional development systems?
* How can we help build capacity for ongoing measurement and application of data to programs and policies within low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa?


In order to address these questions, the contractor will complete the following:

1 Hold a series of 4 virtual meetings among ECD experts and others to focus on the following key topics in measurement, beginning in Fall 2018:
1 Generation of ECD data using a range of tools
2 Application of data to ECD policy and programmatic decisions, including monitoring systems and professional development;
3 Building capacity for ECD measurement by bridging across users and international and country-level actors, including universities, NGOs, and ministries;
4 Innovative approaches to collecting and using ECD data, through technology and other ways of quickly estimating and summarizing information.

1 Hold 2 in-person meetings, early 2019 and late 2019, to discuss the 4 topics in greater detail. The first meeting, will be held in the United States, with the specific city to be determined in conjunction with USAID based on available partners and meeting priorities. This meeting will focus on convening up to 30 global experts and country representatives to discuss application of research findings to large-scale policy change. The second meeting will be held in a low- or middle-income country in sub-Saharan Africa where USAID has education programming, and will highlight connections with an organization or government in Africa that has demonstrated innovation or dedication to ECD. The selection of the country will be made in conjunction with USAID. The in-person meetings will be held in partnership with a sub-Saharan African partner to highlight issues in measurement and use of data within early childhood settings. These meetings will focus on bringing together up to 60 international and country-level actors including researchers, ministry officials, and non-governmental actors to discuss data in ECD, from the generation of the data to its application to policy questions.

1. Create a consortium of ECD professionals who share an interest in using data to influence changes in their countries. There will be a sub-group of 10-12 members who are committed to engaging in an ongoing discussion of generating and applying data in their countries. The selection of the members will be made in conjunction with USAID. This group will test and apply new approaches to ECD data generation and use and share their results with the larger group.
2. Create a website and generate blog posts and newsletter content during the project to ensure members and broader stakeholders are informed about the good practices in ECD in the Africa region as well as the rest of the world. Write at least 4 blog posts and newsletter articles to reach practitioners and consortium members from partner countries. The website will be developed in close collaboration with USAID. The content and frequency of the newsletter will be determined by USAID.
3. Generate a “lessons learned” summary report and technical guidance at the end of the project to guide future work on using measurement to improve early childhood policies and programs. Summary guidance will address the four key questions above and cover best practices in how data can lead to improvements in policy and practice, and will provide detailed descriptions of the successes and challenges faced by the cohort of ECD professionals who have engaged in the discussion of how to use data for improvement. This report will be accompanied by a technical guide for using data to drive change in ECD.

Illustrative Activities:
1 Conduct a brainstorming meeting with USAID staff, with the purpose of discussing examples of African cases of behavior change communication efforts for potential more in-depth analysis.
2 Establish monthly calls with the USAID activity manager to provide status updates and to mitigate any questions that come up.
3 Review literature on ECD measurement and data use in sub-Saharan Africa and draft a literature review
4 Conduct stakeholder analysis of partners and related activities on ECD measurement and monitoring to identify needs, gaps, and opportunities to enhance synergies between partner activities.
5 Develop background paper and draft framework for ECD data and use for improvement.

Virtual and in-person meetings
1 Plan meeting content, agenda, speakers, and facilitator
2 Logistics: confirm and book meeting space, number of participants
3 Order and provide meals for the meetings
4 Invite approximately 30 experts-if needed assist in helping members get visa by providing a visa letter and helping with travel logistics
5 Arrange travel for participants (book flights and hotels)
6 Provide travel, per diem, hotel, and other related costs for 8 members from Africa to attend the in person meetings
7 Produce meeting report as well as any printed materials needed for the meetings
8 Invite/recruit consortium members

Communications
1 Host 4 webinars for country users to share their work, solicit feedback, receive technical inputs
2 Create and maintain a website/webpage featuring consortium work, new resources, framework
3 Produce 4 blogs and newsletter articles/and newsletter on ECD and measurement, invite guest bloggers
4 Compile summary of country partner work

III. Implementation and Budget
Provide details on the roles and responsibilities of each of the team members, level of effort, and where this Consortium will be housed. In the work plan, please outline the following specifics details for how each activity will be managed. Please provide a detailed budget for all costs involved in ensuring the key deliverables are achieved.

Key Deliverables:
1 Work plans detailing key activities and dates each year. The Year 1 work plan, submitted within 30 days of award. The Year 2 work plan must be submitted after the first 9 months of the project.
2 Quarterly project reports
3 Literature review on ECD measurement and data use in Africa
4 Stakeholder analysis
5 4 virtual meetings among ECD experts and other stakeholders
6 2 in-person meetings, one in the United States in early 2019, and one in sub-Saharan Africa in late 2019 for at least 30 people each
7 Create a consortium of ECD professionals for the sub-Saharan Africa region
8 Website focused on ECD measurement to serve as a resource for practitioners and policymakers
9 At least 4 blog posts and newsletter articles relevant to the work of the project
10 Lessons learned summary report that documents the lessons learned throughout the course of the project and addresses the four key questions identified in Section II above. This report should not exceed 30 pages (excluding annexes), including an executive summary (no more than three pages) and a complete bibliography of all sources reviewed.
11 Technical guide for using data to drive change in ECD
12 The mid-term and end of project reports should not exceed 30 pages (excluding annexes), including an executive summary (no more than three pages) and a complete bibliography of all sources reviewed.
13 A presentation of the findings to USAID staff with accompanying PowerPoint slides provided electronically.

The project team should have the following expertise and skills:
* A master’s or graduate degree in education with expertise in early childhood development;
* Must have expertise in early childhood development;
* Knowledge of international development in the education, health, crisis response, and/or other sectors;
* Familiarity with USAID approaches;
* Previous experience working on USAID or other donor-funded research or program analysis;
* Expertise in education in sub-Saharan Africa;
* Experience in qualitative research methods;
* Experience working on a team to conduct research and deliver written and oral products.
* Minimum of five years technical writing experience;
* Strong planning and organizational skills required; and
* Sub-Saharan Africa experience preferred.

**If interested in this opportunity, please submit a proposal addressing 1) how you and/or your team meet the requirements, 2) how you and/or your team plan to accomplish the above deliverables, 3) a project timeline, and 4) a detailed budget to .**

This is an opportunity for employment or a contract, but we reserve the right to make no selection or award.

ZemiTek and CAMRIS International offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits.

ZemiTek and CAMRIS International are Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, protected veteran status, disability status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

About the Organization

CAMRIS is known throughout the U.S. for its leading edge services to support our national programs and particularly for serving our Veterans. CAMRIS is also known worldwide for excellence serving client programs to improve economic, social, political, and health conditions of people in all parts of the world. For 45 years, since our first contact with USAID in 1963 and with work in every year since, our most important partner in the international sphere has been the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”). In fact, CAMRIS has worked with USAID in each year since its founding. Before USAID we assisted its predecessor organizations dating back to the Kennedy Administration in 1961, to address humanitarian needs and to counter instability posed by underdevelopment. To date CAMRIS has carried out assignments for USAID in 50 countries in all regions and in many technical areas. Today CAMRIS continues this proud tradition as it works on significant USAID assignments in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Our current work includes technical assistance to support major USAID-funded initiatives in the areas of Global Health, Democracy and Governance, Development, and Monitoring and Evaluation, and active assignments including several global initiatives and our present work in 24 countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). ABOUT CAMRIS INTERNATIONAL CAMRIS is an International Development Consulting Firm working within the public and private sectors to advance the human and institutional capacities of organizations and communities worldwide. WHAT WE DO We apply a combination of proven interdisciplinary, scientific and management approaches to identify, develop and implement the most effective solutions in support of our clients' program goals. We do this most often in the areas of international development and global health, and selectively in additional areas where our cross-cutting capabilities are well suited to meet the needs of our clients. We operate in all regions of the world, often in very challenging or austere conditions. At all times our focus is on evidence-based effectiveness, quality, reliability, and sustainability. We successfully completed initiatives in nearly 80 countries to date. KEY CAPABILITIES * Short-Term and Long-Term Technical Assistance * Program Management Services * Institutional Support * Research and Analytic Support CORE PRACTICE AREAS * Monitoring and Evaluation * Capacity Building * Project Design * Knowledge Management * Adaptive Technologies * eLearning * Democracy and Governance * Infectious Diseases STAFF CAMRIS has grown rapidly over the last 5 years to a peak of 200 staff, complemented by highly experienced consultants and collaborating partners and universities. CAMRIS is headquartered in Bethesda, MD in the Washington DC metropolitan area, with remote offices, operations and worksites in various locations in the U.S. and overseas.

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