Consultancy for Situation Analysis on Alternative Pathways and Distance Learning in Nigeria

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Application deadline 4 months ago: Thursday 25 May 2023 at 22:55 UTC

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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.

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In Nigeria, UNICEF works in a complex humanitarian and development setting to fulfill and protect children's rights in partnership with the government, civil society, children, and families. UNICEF Nigeria is one of the largest UNICEF Country Offices globally - click the link to learn more about UNICEF in Nigeria:

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Background and Purpose of the Assignment

Nigeria is home to approximately 206 million people, 43 percent of whom are below 14 years of age. By 2030, there will be close to 126 million children in Nigeria. Rapid population growth and the swelling child population will place significant pressure on the education system, including its infrastructure and resources. At the same time, Nigeria has the potential to reap a dividend from the impending youth bulge, but this will require significant investments in children’s and adolescents’ education and well-being. The country has developed policies that guarantee free and compulsory basic education and has seen increasing access to education in recent years.

Nigeria is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as reflected in current education policies, which guarantee free and compulsory basic education and position quality of learning outcomes at the centre of the country’s education agenda. The Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) (2016-2019) and the Ministerial Strategic Plan (2018-2022) prioritize education access, learning quality and systems strengthening. A recent analysis of the country’s progress toward Sustainable Development Goal target 4.1 revealed evidence of initiatives in all states that aim to improve children’s access to quality education. These efforts have been met with increasing enrolment in recent years. However, there remain challenges in high out-of-school rates, dropout, and persistent inequality.

Nigeria has approximately 10.2 million children who are out of school (OOS) at the primary level, and accounts for 15 percent of the total number of out-of-school children globally. Overall, 1 in 3 children are OOS in Nigeria, with 12.4 million having never attended and 5.9 having left school early. Two-thirds (66 percent) of all OOS children are in the northeast and North-west, 86 percent are from rural areas and 65 percent are from the poorest socioeconomic quintile. More than 50 percent of girls are not attending school at the basic education level, and only 1 in 3 adolescents eligible for senior secondary education are attending. Despite the efforts over the past years, both from the Government of Nigeria as well as its development partners, to strategically address the challenge of out-of-school children (OOSC), and to ensure that all children are in school and learning, progress in reducing the number of OOSC is not keeping pace with the growing child and youth population of Nigeria.

Unfortunately, learning poverty remains an equally important challenge as well. More than 70 per cent of children of primary school age cannot read with understanding or solve simple math problems , and 50 per cent of students in primary education on average cannot read or write . These gaps in foundational skills are cumulative across the lifecycle, increasing learners’ risk of dropping out and impeding their ability to acquire the skills they need to thrive in the workforce, to be actively engaged citizens and to nurture healthy and prosperous families.

This learning crisis has been exacerbated by disruptions to education. COVID-19 school closures impacted more than 50 million learners at the peak of the pandemic. A survey conducted during the school closure found that while at home, only 70% academically engaged with learning, most of them used Radio (60%) and only 19% used digital platform. Conflict and insecurity in the north and central regions of Nigeria exacerbate education disruption through attacks on schools and internal displacement. School closures due to insecurity in the 2020/2021 academic year affected over 11,000 schools and 1.3 million children for four months. Natural disasters also cause interruptions to education, for example the flooding in Jigawa state which forced 159 schools to close and affected more than 4,700 children (2,311 girls) who became internally displaced and had to continue their education remotely.

Strengthening the resilience of the education system, with alternative learning pathways, is critical to ensure the continuity of education and learning even when schools are not accessible. The alternative pathways shift the focus from schooling to learning by offering inclusive learning opportunities that can reach children, especially OOSC. The UNICEF Nigeria Country Office (NCO) Country Programme Document (CPD) 2023-2027 includes the provision of support to the government to ensure flexible and alternative pathways at all levels of basic education and for all children, including children on the move, children affected by the emergency, OOSC, Almajiri and other marginalized children in poor and rural areas who do not have access to formal schooling.

UNICEF NCO, under its education work plan 2023-2024, will work with government partners at national, state, and community levels to review the existing situation on the provision of alternative and flexible learning pathways in Nigeria. UNICEF NCO seeks a consultant who will conduct the situation analysis on alternative learning pathways and distance learning opportunities in Nigeria especially for OOSC and adolescents, assess barriers to transition from existing alternative pathways to formal education or the labor force, and identify recommendations and best practices to improve the alignment of alternative pathways with formal education systems. The consultant will develop recommended strategies for institutionalizing alternative learning pathways and expanding remote learning opportunities for Nigerian children and adolescents.

Scope of Work:

Under the overall supervision of the Chief of Education and the guidance from Education Specialist (Access and Equity), the consultant will be responsible for the following tasks over the course of the contract:

a. Organize a kick-off meeting with UNICEF and the counterpart governments (i.e., the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the steering Committee to agree on the project scope and plan.

b. Conduct initial regional mapping of successful global practices on alternative learning pathways and distance learning opportunities, which include policies, frameworks, models (types and modalities), curriculum and guidance, in the sub-Saharan African region (primary focus on anglophone countries). The mapping should cover alternative learning pathways for the following groups: • Primary school-aged children, both inside and outside of schools. • Junior secondary school-aged children, both inside and outside of schools. • Senior secondary school-aged adolescents, both inside and outside of schools. Gender, disability, and emergency/conflict considerations should also apply across all identified groups.

c. In collaboration with and consultation with key stakeholders including the FME and UBEC, conduct mapping of alternative learning pathways and distance learning opportunities in Nigeria, for both in-school and out-of-school children from primary to senior secondary level. The mapping should include 1) types and forms, 2) operational modalities, 3) providers, 4) target groups, 5) pedagogical content, 6) learning content, 7) teaching and learning methodologies, 8) design and mechanisms to facilitate transition to formal education, and 9) evidence/evaluation of impact on learning and transition to formal education.

d. Using available data and the information collected though the mapping exercises, analyze the existing gaps in practices and knowledge of alternative learning pathways and distance learning opportunities in Nigeria, identify challenges and bottlenecks in provision and delivery of alternative learning pathways and distance learning for different categories of learners, and develop a set of policy recommendations to expand quality, inclusive alternative learning pathways and distance learning in Nigeria. The consultant will develop a report and PPT presentation on the analysis, findings and recommendations.

e. Support UNICEF to organize a meeting with the governments and development partners to present the study findings and recommendations and facilitate discusions and policy dialogue on strategies to strengthen alternative learning pathways and distance learning in Nigeria.

Please refer to the attached detailed job description for more information… TOR Situation Analysis of Alternative Learning.docx

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

Knowledge/Expertise/Skills required:

Qualifications: • A minimum of 5 years of experience in designing, implementing and/or evaluating education programmes related to alternative learning pathways (e.g., non-formal education, remote learning). • A minimum of 3 years of experience in conducting studies and surveys on education and developing policy recommendations and strategy papers. • Strong understanding of the current issues and phenomenon on out-of-school children in the sub-Saharan Africa is required. Language requirements: • Fluency in English is required. • Excellent written and oral communication skills are required. Other skills and attributes: • Strong knowledge of the Nigerian education context around OOSC and alternative learning pathways is an asset. • Ability to present ideas and communicate evidence and advice concisely to diverse audiences (including government) is an asset. • Experience working with UN agencies, particularly with a good understanding of UNICEF’s programmes, is an asset. • Fluency in French is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability, and Sustainability (CRITAS).

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts.

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