Consultant – PlayMatters Process Evaluation: Humanitarian-Development Coherence

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IRC - The International Rescue Committee

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Job Description

Background of the project

PlayMatters (2020-2026) is an education initiative funded by the LEGO Foundation. The program reimagines childhood for 800,000+ refugee and host-community children across Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda – children whose education and social development have been affected by displacement and trauma. Building on children’s amazing resilience and a growing evidence base supporting Learning through Play methodologies, PlayMatters cultivates holistic learning and well-being for children ages 3-12+. PlayMatters is led by the International Rescue Committee and includes Plan International, War Child Holland, Innovations for Poverty Action, the Behavioral Insights Team. PlayMatters defines Learning through Play as an active teaching and learning method that capitalizes on a child’s natural desire to engage in play. Core elements include: 1) the adult facilitator intentionally plans and delivers contextually and age-appropriate guided playful experiences with clear learning objectives; 2) experiences promote interactions with people and/or materials that allow children to question, experiment, practice, and discover; 3) the facilitator deliberately creates and maintains a positive, safe, and inclusive environment for children, allowing children to feel comfortable and joyful.

Scope of Work:

As PlayMatters and the LEGO Foundation seek to build the evidence base for scalable LtP interventions, PlayMatters seeks to complement implementation research and impact evaluations with process evaluations, recognizing the value of understanding the dynamic process, operational, and organizational learnings from such a large-scale project to inform future programs. Thus, the PlayMatters research team is seeking an external consultant to conduct a process evaluation to elicit unbiased perspectives without influencing internal working relationships and dynamics, and to provide a comprehensive understanding of the reality of existing processes. PlayMatters expects this process evaluation to include a desk review, document analysis of existing project documents and activity reports, and interviews and/or focus group discussions with program and partner staff. Consultant(s) should further conceptualize this methodology upon application. The PlayMatters Regional Research & MEL Manager will help to coordinate access to documents and participants, if desired, and provide additional reasonable support (such as any proposed travel logistics) as requested. Support requests of the Regional Research & MEL Manager should be included in the proposal and will be confirmed upon inception meeting.

This process evaluation will focus on PlayMatters’ unique positioning as a complex education project that spans the humanitarian-development nexus in three diverse refugee-hosting country contexts with large long-term refugee populations. Each country has unique refugee integration policies and education systems (centralized and decentralized systems, existing TPD structures/mechanisms, etc.). Education systems in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda are all responding to the post-COVID-19 challenges of budget shortfalls, teacher resignations, and student learning loss. In addition, the most recent Ebola outbreak in Uganda ended in January 2023, and the civil conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, which began in 2020, is still in an acute response phase (although the situation is improving following a November 2022 peace agreement). These three countries represent a spectrum of inclusion of refugee inclusion in the national education system. In Uganda, refugees attend public schools along with host community members. In Ethiopia, refugees attend schools managed by the UN or NGOs, in segregated schools, but using the same curriculum and exams as host community schools. In Tanzania, refugees are not integrated into the education system, and attend schools managed by INGOs using the home curricula to encourage their return, as a government policy of repatriation for Burundian refugees is ongoing. The larger political contexts for refugees in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda greatly influence the levels and sources of resourcing available, the ability of teachers and schools to deliver quality learning opportunities to students, as well as the approaches required to support them.

PlayMatters programming is primarily a technical assistance and systems strengthening program (commonly associated with development work) and contains components of direct service delivery (commonly associated with humanitarian work). Amidst this background, the PlayMatters research team frames this evaluation around how PlayMatters operates within the humanitarian-development nexus, drawing on Nicolai et al.’s (2019) conceptual framework of humanitarian-development coherence of Norms, Capacities, and Operations. While the use of this conceptual framework is not mandatory, we request that applicants provide alternative conceptual frameworks.

Deliverables: (expected duration in parentheses)

1. Inception Meeting and background preparations (1 day): Study Plan & Methodology

2. Data Collection and Cleaning (18 days): Complete clean data*

3. Data analysis and Draft report (35 days): Draft report of Findings

4. Final report (5 days): Final report of Findings**

5. Dissemination presentation (1 day): Dissemination presentation and slide deck

Note: Applicant(s) should justify amendments to the duration of allocated days based on expected Methodology

*Due to the sensitive nature of this evaluation, IRC will own the intellectual property rights to data submitted by the consultants under the contract.

**PlayMatters hopes to co-author publications (journal articles, briefs, etc.) with the consultant(s) based on the final report of findings. This would go beyond the scope of the consultancy and would be contingent upon the availability and interest of the consultant(s).


Payment Rate and Schedule:

- Interested candidates should submit a proposed budget and daily rate upon application. - Payment will be disbursed in three installments: - Deliverables 1 + 2 (19 days): Upon receipt of the complete clean data (expected ~1 month after data collection is completed) - Deliverable 3 (35 days): Upon receipt of draft report of findings (expected ~3 months after data collection is completed) - Deliverables 4 + 5 (6 days): Upon receipt of final report of findings (expected ~1 month after draft report is reviewed)


- Advanced degree in in Education, Psychology, International Development, International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, Policy Studies, or other related Social Sciences-Related discipline; - At least 3 years experience working in education in low-resource environments or education in emergencies; - Experience working on education in emergencies policy issues and experience studying the humanitarian-development nexus is a plus; - A background in education research, including training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods; - Strong writing skills (in English) and significant writing experience; - Experience analyzing qualitative data using Dedoose, nVivo or other qualitative data analysis software is a plus; - Experience working in East Africa is a plus.

Application Process:

To apply, interested candidates should submit:

- Updated CV(s)*** - Proposed Methodology (not more than 3 pages) - Proposed Budget*** - Example of relevant work

***If applying as a consulting firm/team, please include CVs of all team members and proposed budget allocation day rates of all members

Please send submissions and questions to the Regional Research & MEL Manager, PlayMatters:

Closing date for submissions: 5 May 2023 at 11:59pm EDT.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted

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