Senior Education Researcher for Africa (Consultant)

  • Senior-level, Short-term contract assignment
  • Posted on 19 April 2019
  • Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, United States
  • Closing on 16 June 2019

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 for the following position:

This position is for a 100 day consultancy.

Title: Senior Education Researcher for Africa (Consultant)

United States Agency for International Development/ Bureau of Africa/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
AFR’s Office of Sustainable Development (SD) serves as the Africa Bureau’s “think tank” and its team of 70 staff professionals provides technical analysis and other support to AFR’s leadership in Washington and to missions in sub-Saharan Africa. The office supports the overarching goals of ensuring the strategic, coordinated, and effective use of U.S. foreign assistance for development on the continent. Through cutting-edge research and technical assistance to the field, AFR/SD strengthens the capacity of USAID to promote democratic reforms; improve access to quality health and education systems; mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDs; promote biodiversity, conservation and environmental quality; mitigate the effects of climate change; improve food security and expand trade-led investment and economic growth. AFR/SD also provides intellectual leadership and conducts economic, social, and political analyses critical to the development of AFR strategies, policies, budgets, and activities, representing the Bureau in a wide range of inter-agency and donor meetings, helping shape inter-agency and donor decisions on complex and sensitive development issues.

The Senior Education Researcher will support the Bureau for Africa’s Office of Sustainable Development, Education Division (AFR/SD/ED). S/he will report to the Zemitek supervisor. The Senior Education Researcher will work with other team members to ensure the timely execution of this assignment.

Overview: SEL/Life Skills Analytic Paper

Relationship Between SEL and Life Skills Approaches to Transform Gender Norms and Prevent SRGBV
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Though the international development field has long supported skills development among children and youth to influence a broader set of cross-sectoral outcomes, in the past five years USAID has contributed to the understanding of how social and emotional skills help achieve specific education outcomes. The use of SEL as an education intervention is gaining more visibility within USAID’s education sector and social and emotional skills are a priority learning outcome under the new USAID Education Policy

For decades, the health and education sectors have used a life skills approach to support adolescents to make informed and responsible decisions about their bodies and their lives.

Equipping learners with life skills is also a foundational approach to school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) prevention as cited in INSPIRE:
Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children. Schools offer an important space where life skills training can prevent violence against children by enhancing their communication, conflict management and problem solving skills, and assisting them to build positive peer-to-peer relationships. The INSPIRE Handbook uses the term “life and social skills” indicating that life skills can be described as “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life.” These include focus, self-control, critical thinking, and problem-solving. They also include interpersonal and social skills such as interacting and building relationships with others. Effective programmes that develop these skills lead to pro-social behaviors, including resolving conflict effectively and displaying empathy toward others.

A working hypothesis is that the SEL and life skills approaches are similar in nature and can both contribute to development goals such as promoting gender equality and more specifically transforming gender norms, and preventing and reducing SRGBV. This paper will explore this hypothesis by identifying similarities and differences between the two approaches and what evidence exists for how each approach impacts gender and violence outcomes. This information will be helpful in bridging the terminology gap among the different practitioners in the fields of adolescent health, gender equality, violence prevention, and education in conflict and crisis and will provide more internal coherence to interventions that work to transform gender norms and reduce SRGBV. Once there is a better common understanding among these fields, there should be greater sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas and practices.

Relationship Between Gender Norms and Skills Development
While there is international recognition of the importance of skills for achieving positive behavioral change and health outcomes that lead to gender equality, there is surprisingly little evidence around how gender attitudes and norms interacts with social emotional skills to affect outcomes . Domestic research on social and emotional skills has been generally “color-blind” and “gender-blind” and hasn’t fully explored how gender, power, privilege, and culture may impact the development of skills or how competencies could be augmented to make child and youth outcomes more equitable .

Additionally, little is known about how skills interact with harmful gender attitudes and norms or their potential to decrease discriminatory practices and gender-based violence. Reducing school-related gender-based violence has gained increasing attention within the new USG Strategy on International Basic Education and the new USAID Education Policy. Evidence suggests that empathy, positive attitude, and social skills are important for reducing the perpetration of gender-based violence . Yet more research is needed on how social emotional skills can reduce the perpetration of gender-based violence and build youth’s protective assets to prevent gender-based violence, especially in developing country contexts. Additionally, more research on skills and specific outcomes should disaggregate findings by sex and age in order to add to the field’s understanding of how the skill-outcome relationship may differ between boys and girls or across the life cycle.

The Senior Education Researcher will be responsible for reviewing the current literature to identify the relationship between social and emotional learning (SEL), life skills, gender equality and SRGBV prevention to produce a report that includes:
* A conceptual mapping of social and emotional skills and life skills, including their definitions, evolution in their relevant fields, as well as programming similarities and differences in LMIC.
* Summary of evidence on the impact of social and emotional skills and life skills approaches on achieving gender equality and school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) prevention outcomes among children and youth.
* Discussion of how gender norms, attitudes, and behavior interact with social and emotional skills to affect child and youth outcomes.

Research Questions
* How are social and emotional skills and life skills similar and different? What are the differences and similarities in using a life skills approach or SEL approach to changing gender norms and SRGBV prevention? Can the terms be used interchangeably or are there noted differences? If so, are there any programming implications?
* How do social and emotional skills and life skills create positive behavioral change and health outcomes that lead to gender equality? How can social emotional skills and life skills reduce the perpetration of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and build youth’s protective assets to prevent SRGBV?
* How can school-based programming build children and teachers’ social emotional skills in order to create a more gender-equitable and safe school climate?
* How do gender norms, attitudes, and behavior interact with social and emotional skills to affect child and youth outcomes? Does the skill-outcome relationship differ between boys and girls or across the life cycle? Are critical periods and processes for acquiring skills different for boys and girls?
Research questions will be finalized in consultation with the Senior Education Researcher.

Deliverables:

The Senior Education Researcher will complete the following:
* Workplan that outlines specific steps to be taken in the conduct of the research, with projected timeline, as well as an outline of the final deliverable.
* Final product of this investigation will be a report provided in MS Word and PDF format.

Below is an illustrative outline of the deliverable:
* Executive Summary of no more than two pages
* Summary chart that indicates the overlaps, similarities and differences with terms such as SEL and life skills and for what development challenges these different skills have been used as an intervention.
* Literature review on the relationship between social and emotional learning, gender equality/gender norms, and SRGBV that answers the research questions above and provides insight into what gaps exist and what additional data and research is needed to close the gaps.
* Repository of interventions that reflect best or promising practices of SEL being used in a variety of settings to address gender equality and SRGBV prevention outcomes.
* Conclusion & Annexes (as needed)
* One to two-page practitioner briefer. The audience for this document will be education development professionals working in Africa.
* Oral presentation to USAID and a webinar for USAID missions and Washington staff with a power-point presentation of analysis, findings and recommendations. Contractor will use USAID MS PowerPoint template: Standard Definition (4:3) / High Definition (16:9)
* Visuals in large-sized PNG format (400 KB minimum). All visuals (charts, infographics, maps, etc.) created for the report or other deliverables will be provided to USAID as stand-alone deliverables. Charts should adhere to the data visualization checklist (attached) and should utilize the USAID colors.

The Senior Education Researcher must have:
* Masters or doctoral degree in education, social sciences or a related field in international development.
* Technical expertise in gender equality and girls’ education/empowerment; violence prevention (prevention of school-related gender-based violence preferred); life skills; and social and emotional skills.
* Knowledge of international development in the education, health (adolescent reproductive health preferred), and violence prevention sectors.
* 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.
* Excellent writing skills (writing sample may be required)
* Sub-Saharan Africa experience preferred.

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