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1 TERMS OF REFERENCE National consultant to support UNICEF with the modelling of an innovative approach for promoting access to education and improving educational outcomes of marginalized children Start date: 15 July 2016 End date: 30 June 2017 Reporting to: UNICEF Education Officer I. Background. Access to education is a primary human right for all children. It helps children realise their full potential and become competent and productive members of the society. Although traditionally Bulgaria has had very high rates of participation of children in education, in the last years factors like poverty, disability, social exclusion and discrimination increasingly undermine access of children to quality education. The overall quality of education in Bulgaria needs special attention as over 40% of the 15 year olds were found to be functionally illiterate in the latest survey of the Programme for International Student Assessment. Marginalised and excluded children are even at a higher risk of remaining illiterate and discontinue their education. A major challenge is that the education system doesn t provide alternative forms of education and support for children who need to overcome certain learning deficiencies, especially those in correctional schools and closed facilities. Bulgaria has made a number of reforms in the area of education that impact on access and quality of education, including the introduction of a new mechanism for funding of schools based on a single per capita standard and a system of delegated budgets, a whole day organisation of the educational process for children from 1 to 4th grade and introduction of obligatory pre-school education for the 6th and 5th year old children and the adoption of new Law on Preschool and School Education becoming effective as of August Despite these reforms and the substantial financial resources from the national budget and the EU structural funds invested in measures for improving quality and access to education, serious challenges remain, particularly in reducing the equity gaps for the most vulnerable children and adolescents in the country. The share of early school leavers among the population between 18 and 24 years of age is steadily growing over the years and is one of the highest in Europe 13.4% in It is estimated 2 that on average every year approximately 22,000 children have not enrolled in school at all or left it before completing their education. Every third child of them has never been to school or left it before completing primary education. Data from the last National Census in 2011 shows that 20.69% of young people at the age have not completed basic 1 tsdsc410 2 UNICEF (2013) Lost future? Non-enrolment and non-attendance of school: A study on the phenomena.

2 education and therefore are functionally illiterate. In a context where no sufficient second chance opportunities are available, children and adolescents who dropped out of education are at serious risk of poverty and social exclusion as they lack the necessary skills and qualification to successfully integrate into the labour market. Children from vulnerable families, Roma children, especially girls and children with disabilities are more likely to remain out of school. The insufficient participation of children in pre-school education contributes to the negative trends relating to school dropout. National statistics reveal that the net enrolment rate of children in kindergartens for the country is 81.0% for the school year 2015/2016 but the participation of children from vulnerable groups, including Roma children is lower than the average for the country the net enrolment rate for the region of Sliven is 68.2% for the current year. A national representative study Equality road to progress conducted by the Open Society Institute shows that in 2011 the share of children 3-6 years of age from the Bulgarian ethnic group who attended kindergartens was 55%, while the share of Roma children was only 31%. For the children from poor and disadvantaged families, as well for children whose mother language is different from Bulgarian pre-school education provides equal chances to successfully start school and reduces the risk of school dropout. The reasons that drive children and adolescents out of school are very complex and include poverty, social exclusion and discrimination, family problems and lack of supportive family environment, traditional practices. The educational system itself, including the organisation of the educational process, teaching methods and school environment, is also a contributing factor, particularly for children from disadvantaged background. Low levels of education have severe consequences not only for the young people concerned but also high economic and social costs for society as a whole. Policies to reduce early school leaving must address all triggers of the phenomenon and combine education and social policy, youth work and health related aspects such as substance abuse, mental or emotional problems. At the moment in Bulgaria policies do not address all obstacles to school success, and do not focus on strengthening compensatory measures such as second chance education and school drop-out prevention. II. The role of UNICEF. UNICEF Bulgaria is in the forth year of implementation of the Country Programme for the period The overall goal of the country programme is to support the efforts of the Government to ensure social inclusion and reduction of child poverty, furthering the realization of the rights of all children to education, health, and protection with a focus on the most vulnerable children and families, and to strengthen child rights monitoring systems. The Program has two components: (1). Equity and social inclusion for children; and (2). Alliances and national capacities for child rights monitoring. Part of the interventions under the first program component are focused on supporting well targeted policies and strategies in the area of education that increase school enrolment rate, reduce school dropout and create enabling and conducive school environment for disadvantaged youth and children, especially Roma girls and children with disabilities. Through research, technical support to the government, development and implementation of model interventions in three regions of the country, this component will contribute to reducing

3 the existing barriers and bottlenecks in access to education and reducing school dropout, as well as providing second chance opportunities for children and youth who are out of school and out of work. In 2012 and 2013 UNICEF Bulgaria implemented specific activities to support the efforts of the government to reduce school dropout. In particular, technical support was provided to the Ministry of Education and Science for drafting the recently National Strategy for Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers In addition, UNICEF conducted a research on reasons for non-enrolment of children in school to inform planning and development of targeted intervention to address non-enrolment. As a follow-up to the above research, in 2014 UNICEF initiated a national study of adolescents and youth not in employment, education and training (NEETs) in order to identify the scope of the NEETs phenomenon and the profile of NEETs adolescents and young people in Bulgaria as well as the factors and the determinants that lead to this situation. The main objective of the study is to help national stakeholders gain a better understanding of the specific needs of NEETs, to identify barriers and bottlenecks in order to provide concrete recommendations for policy measures and specific interventions. To help leveraging resources for access to education UNICEF also took part in the working group, established at the Ministry of Education and Science to develop the program Education and science for smart growth that will provide a framework for disbursement of funds from the EU Social fund in support of education and science over the period In 2015 UNICEF Bulgaria supported the development and pilot testing of an innovative educational model for improving educational outcomes for marginalized children through closing educational gaps and helping them complete basic education, thus promoting their personal development and successful (re)integration in society. The model included the development and/ or revision of a set of interactive video lessons in core subjects from 1 to 8 grade, integrated in an online educational platform that facilitates the learning process. Specially designed diagnostic tests have been developed for assessing the educational level and identifying the learning deficits of each child. The tests served as a basis for the development of individual learning programs aimed at helping the students to fill their educational gaps and to improve their educational outcomes. The model as well aimed at provoking children`s interest towards the learning process in general by using interactive learning tools that enable better understanding of the material. A preliminary test of the model included two small groups of students from different settings socio-pedagogical boarding school in Dragodanovo and Family Consultative Center in Veliki Preslav. The preliminary testing revealed significant gaps in knowledge and skills in key subjects from the elementary grades that need to be overcome in order to prevent learning difficulties in school. Considering the short period of pilot testing and the limited number of students participating the pilot model for both stages elementary and middle grades, needs to be validated with a larger group of children in different settings. The continuation of the project includes development of interactive video lessons and diagnostic tests covering the learning content of core subjects from 5 to 8 grades, provision of individualized support and tailor-made programs for each child, pre and post testing of each participants.

4 III. Objective of the Consultancy. The overall objective of the consultancy is to support UNICEF with the modelling of an innovative approach aimed at improving the educational outcomes for marginalized children as well as to provide technical assistance and support for the implementation of other activities related to reducing school dropout and improving access to quality education in Bulgaria. IV. Specific tasks of the assignment include: Provide technical assistance to UNICEF office for the development and pilot testing of an innovative educational model for promoting access to education and improving educational outcomes of marginalized children; Selection and involvement of specific groups of children from different settings, including social services, closed facilities and segregated schools, to participate in the project in close coordination and with support from UNICEF; Selection and involvement of experts in the design of the validation process, the development of a proposal for the replication of the model, including a detailed description of the methodology and the structure of the diagnostic tests for 1-8 grades; Consult the process of development of diagnostic tests for core subjects in 5-8 grade in line with the official school curriculum; Support the contractor in the preparation of a User Guidelines and the delivery of a special training to children, supervisors (educators, social workers) and teachers in up to 10 different settings (for both the validation and the expansion of the model) on how to use the educational online platform and the additional tools offered; Development of a proposal for the replication of the model including a detailed description of the methodology and the structure of the diagnostic tests for all grades; Consult the process of development of a minimum of 200 tailor-made individual learning programmes for each child participating in the project; Review and monitor the process of preparation of individual progress reports for each child based on their activity and progress; Coordinate the process of testing of children in line with UNICEF Rules and Regulations and ensure Child Rights implementation; Facilitate communication with representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, its regional structures and other relevant state administration and social services in regard to the implementation of the project outcomes and other joint activities; Others as requested by the office. V. Timeframe and duration of the assignment. The assignment will take place in the period 15 July June The consultancy involves in-country travel to UNICEF regions of intervention as required. Travel costs will be covered separately as per UNICEF rules and standards. VI. Required education, experience and competencies. The successful candidate is expected to have the following competencies: University degree in pedagogy, social science, sociology, psychology, or another related area;

5 At least 5 years of professional experience in project management, preferably in the educational or social sector; Excellent understanding of the Bulgarian state policies and strategic documents related to education, youth and child rights; Good communication and planning skills; Respect for cultural diversity and human rights; Knowledge of UNICEF policies is an advantage; Excellent command of English is a must; VII. Expected deliverables It is expected that the consultant provides the following deliverables: Plan for the implementation of project activities; Progress reports upon completion of each project phase; Paper with a detailed description of the methodology; Proposal for scaling up of the model at national level; Final report upon project termination. Other deliverables will be provided in the course of the work as needed. VIII. Remuneration and incurred costs: The consultant will be paid a negotiated daily fee within UNICEF fee range, depending on her/his expertise for a maximum of 150 days in the period 15 July June Payments will be made based on the actual number of days spent on the assignment upon provision of a time sheet. Travel costs will be covered separately as per UNICEF rules and regulations. IX. Monitoring and evaluation. The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the UNICEF Education Officer and UNICEF Policy and Knowledge Coordinator. X. Performance indicators. The performance of the consultant will be evaluated against the following criteria: quality of coordination and implementation of the proposed measures; compliance with the established timelines; demonstration of good cooperation with UNICEF team and partners.

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