• Consultancy - USAID - Africa Education Systems Specialists

    Job Locations US-DC-Washington DC- Headquarters
    Posted Date 3 months ago(8/28/2018 1:55 PM)
    Job ID
    2018-1577
    # of Openings
    2
    Job Area
    Stabilization and Management Solutions (SMS)
    Clearance Level
    Not applicable
    Expiration Date
    4/30/2019
    Type
    Consultant
  • About Us

    Since 2001, Dexis has provided innovative management solutions for a secure and prosperous world.   In the last three years alone, Dexis has worked in 90 countries supporting critical missions of agencies in the global development and security assistance space.  With triple digit growth in recent years, Dexis was ranked in the top 10 consulting firms by funding at the US Agency for International Development in FY16 and FY17.  Dexis was also among the highest rated employers on Glassdoor, where many of its 250-plus employees cited a people-centered leadership and culture as the main drivers to its success.  

     

    The purpose of the Education Support Initiative is to recruit, hire and maintain technical, professional, operational, and support staff that supply services to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Education Office and education sector. It includes full-time positions as well as short- and medium-term consultants. 
     
    Introduction:
    The newest data released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, even though two‐thirds of them are in school (UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Furthermore, although the number of countries conducting national, regional or international assessments has significantly increased over time, about 100 education systems still do not systematically assess student learning outcomes (UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Many countries do not possess data on basic reading and math competencies: out of the 121 countries examined in an assessment of capacity to monitor progress toward SDGs, a third did not possess the data necessary to report on the reading and mathematics proficiency of children at the end of primary school (World Bank, 2018). The Education Commission report also highlights this issue, noting that only about half of developing countries have a systematic national learning assessment at primary school level. At lower‐secondary level, this figure accounts for only 7% of low‐income countries and 26% of lower‐middle‐income countries (Education Commission, 2016). Finally, only fewer than 30% of developing countries participate in some kind of international or regional assessment (Education Commission, 2016).
    Possessing and effectively using reliable learning assessment data is essential in order to diagnose the health of the education sector, design appropriate strategies, trace hidden exclusions, foster stronger political engagement, evaluate system progress and that of specific programs, as well as reduce system inefficiencies (World Bank, 2018; UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Well‐designed student assessments are critical in diagnosing key determinant factors of existing issues to address their root causes.
     
    Even where learning assessment data are available, these data are not always used effectively with other evidence to provide a strong analysis that would inform the planning cycle. The planning cycle encompasses the following key stages:
     
    1. Education Sector Analysis (ESA): analyzing the current situation in the sector;
    2. Policy Decision: selecting overall goals and strategies;
    3. Education Sector Plan (ESP) preparation: defining precise objectives and programs;
    4. Implementation: annual planning through operational plans and budgets’ updates;
    5. Monitoring and Evaluation: measuring progress for corrective action.
    We are seeking two individual consultants to implement research on the use of learning assessment data in education sector planning in 2-4 African countries. One consultant will have deep expertise in education sector in francophone Africa, and one consultant will have similar expertise in anglophone Africa. Consultants will implement an existing research plan to explore how data are used in each of its phases (i.e. ESA, policy decision, ESP preparation, implementation and M&E). However, while the study will examine data’s use during the implementation of an ESP, it will not examine whether and how programs informed by learning assessments were implemented and whether they had effects on student outcomes, as these questions go beyond the issues covered in this study.
     
    Specific objectives are as follows:
    1. Generate context-specific knowledge about the use of learning assessment data to inform national and global actors;
    2. Produce specific recommendations to countries participating in the study to improve their practices when using learning assessment data in different phases of the planning cycle;
    3. Inform USAID and other donors technical cooperation and system strengthening work with the up-to-date evidence on the use of learning data; 
    4. Engage in and foster partnerships working to improve the use of learning assessment data.
    The research study follows a case study design. It will allow for the analysis of specific cases and national contexts so as to unveil the complexity lying in the interaction of different factors influencing the use of learning assessment data. Each consultant will be responsible for up to two in-depth country-level case studies. 

     

    Responsibilities

    Scope of Work and Objectives

     
    The consultants will examine the use of data generated by national, regional, and international large-scale assessments. The research will seek insights from a number of different stakeholders: (a) ministry of education officials coming from different departments in charge of planning activities; (b) ministry of education staff/agencies/departments in charge of national examinations and national assessments as well as members of the international/regional assessments’ teams; (c) donor representatives involved in the funding/management of international/regional learning assessments; and (d) civil society representatives. 
     
    This research will take a qualitative approach, and the project’s overall purpose is to
    qualitatively examine why processes involved in the use of learning assessment data for
    planning unfold as they do, while considering a number of intervening factors. The study does not aim to generate a list of policies or practices that ‘work’ or ‘do not work’ as the study is interested in a more dynamic perspective of the analysis and aims to consider actors’ interactions, the influence of institutional settings as well as contextual aspects. It is understood that multiple actors enter into play and multidirectional causes and effects can be observed.
     
    This research study aims to adopt a practice-oriented approach and wants to work with to be determined identified African countries that are currently seeking to improve the use of learning assessment data in planning processes so that research results are of direct use for their ministries of education.  The study will aim to produce useful information for national decision-makers and for global actors involved in the development and funding of learning assessments. It aims to produce contextualized knowledge that can be communicated to national practitioners and development partners.
     
    The research will use a combined approach of both primary and secondary information sources. Primary data will be generated from semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions with key stakeholders and direct observations. The multi-actor research design will allow for triangulation of perspectives and interpretations by actor group. Secondary data sources will be generated from a content analysis of documents available at the country level. The combined use of primary and secondary information will again allow for a triangulation of information sources and can thus be expected to increase the overall consistency of the analysis.
     
    The following research methods will be employed to collect the necessary information:
    • Desk review of related legislation and national as well as international studies, reports or evaluations
    • Semi-structured interviews
    • Focus group discussions
    • Structured observations
    Different types of events and meetings will be observed depending on a specific context to get deeper insights into the use of learning data: education sector planning preparation forum, local education group meetings, joint sector review meetings, internal meetings, etc. The observation of these events will allow researchers to explore dynamics that would otherwise not be communicated by stakeholders in interviews or surveys. Information coming from these sources will be triangulated at the analysis stage. 
     
    Tasks & Responsibilities:
    The activities under this scope of work also include:
    1. Collection of both primary and secondary information sources in the selected country. 
      1. Primary data will be generated from semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions with key stakeholders and direct observations. The multi-actor research design will allow for triangulation of perspectives and interpretations by actor group.
      2. Secondary data sources will be generated from a content analysis of documents available at the country level.
    2. Analysis of data
    3. Preparation of interim reports following the completion of stages of research, and of final research reports (country case studies)
    The consultants will utilize existing data collection instruments, with necessary adaptation/language translation, where applicable. The consultants will work in close collaboration and coordination with the members of Evidence Team within the Office of Education and will engage in routine (weekly) communication and reporting on progress.
     
    Deliverables
    Consultant will be responsible for producing the following deliverables:
    • A desk review of assessments for measuring early grade reading and math in countries selected as case studies.
    • Primary data collection plan, including proposed country adaptation of the data collection instruments.
    • Field report for each major data collection activity.
    • Draft case study report for each country.
    • Final case study report and a power point presentation of key findings for each country
     
    * Due dates for each deliverable is pending on when consultant starts and will be determined closer to execution of independent contract agreement. 
     
    Level of Effort: 
    The total Level of Effort expected for this activity is estimated at 50 days, with on or around 25 days in the field. 

     

    Qualifications

    Required Experience and Qualifications:

    • Education: advanced degree in education, international development, or a relevant field
    • Experience: demonstrated experience working with national governments in Africa in the education sector; demonstrated experience with qualitative research methods; demonstrated ability to analyze data and prepare research reports.
    • Language proficiency: one consultant must have working proficiency of English; one consultant must have working proficiency of French.

    Dexis is an equal opportunity employer offering employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, citizenship, physical or mental handicap, or status as a disabled or Vietnam Era veteran of the US Armed Forces.

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