International Consultant to provide support in Public Finance for Children (PF4C) and to develop Education Budget Brief

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Application deadline 4 months ago: Sunday 10 Jul 2022 at 21:55 UTC

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For every child, equality

The education system in Montenegro is facing complex, multi-faceted challenges including limited access, quality and inclusiveness of education, inadequate infrastructure, and challenges related to financing of education. These long-standing weaknesses were further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The negative impact on human capital development is expected to be significant – likely to cause an increase in inequalities and drop-out rates, as well as lower educational, health and employment outcomes for this generation of students.

The above weaknesses are identified in the Education Sector Analysis (ESA) , which is conducted as a joint initiative of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and provides an in-depth analysis of the system from the aspects of quality, equity, infrastructure, governance, and financing. The ESA is intended to serve as an input for the future development of a long-term evidence-based Education Sector Reform Plan for Montenegro to provide quality education for all.

The ESA points to insufficient capacities of central educational institutions for quality planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of educational reforms. Up until now an overarching Education Sector Strategy which would define a clear vision of the education system, formulate the key priorities and effective, feasible and budgeted actions aimed at improving the quality and equity of education has not been developed. While the commitment by key actors is high, horizontal coordination between different sectors on policy and programme design and implementation of programmes is rather weak.

The ESA put a strong focus on costs and financing of education system in Montenegro by examining central budget over which the Government of Montenegro has direct control. This is because the budget of the Ministry of Education, which is part of the Budget of Montenegro and is adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro on an annual basis, determines the amount of funds for the education sector, including salaries of employees, current expenses, expenditures for electricity bills, maintenance, minor capital expenditures, etc. Besides this, the Government allocates special funds for education system through the Capital Budget for the improvement of school infrastructure through new construction and larger rehabilitation works. While the financing of education is highly centralized, at municipal level some funding might be raised and allocated for ongoing investment maintenance, material costs (hygiene maintenance, pest control and disinfection, telephone and postal services, internet) and taxes prescribed by the local government.

The key evidence coming out from the ESA’s chapter on “Cost and Financing” can be divided into two sections:

  1. Public education expenditure and analysis of public spending trends for the period 2015-2020 by level and type of expenditure which demonstrates the rise in public spending on education over the whole period 2015-2020. However, the relative importance of education, measured as a share of GDP, decreased in the period 2015–2019 and this trend only shifted as a direct consequence of the shrinking of the economy in 2020 caused by COVID-19. Furthermore, the analysis shows that around 90 percent of the Ministry of Education programme spending on education goes on recurrent spending, mostly on wage costs, leaving a relatively low budget for other needs of the education system.
  2. Sources of financing and equity of spending to understand whether education spending is prioritizing the most disadvantaged students and delivering results for all students during the period 2015-2020. The evidence from the ESA shows that the education sector is predominantly financed from the state budget, while the other main sources of funding are parental contributions and out of pocket expenses. This includes payments to private educational institutions, mostly ECE and private higher education, but also household contributions related to primary and secondary education, for instance for buying textbooks for secondary education. When it comes to equity of education spending, the evidence shows that education is not completely free of charge because related educational costs, such as on secondary education textbooks, materials and opportunity costs, may still create a financial barrier for parents that may hamper the ability of certain children to access or complete education. The ESA also examines regional spending disparities but data limitations do not allow for more sophisticated analysis and recommendations.

The Education Sector Analysis suggest the following key issues in relation to financing of the education system:

  • Montenegrin public expenditure on education is relatively low by international standards.
  • Contributions from international partners to the education sector are mostly project-based and are not visible in the national budget, except for the capital loans for school infrastructure.
  • Declining prioritization of capital investments in school infrastructure over the period 2015-2020, which is in sharp contrast with the pressing school infrastructure situation in Montenegro.
  • Following the 2020 mid-year budget revision, total budget allocations for education sector were reduced by € 2.14 million compared to the originally planned budget for 2020, primarily affecting the funds allocated for teacher training (68% reduction). (UNICEF internal calculation).
  • Although the education is by legislation free-of-charge, related educational costs may still create a financial barrier for children to access or complete education. However, there is insufficient data available to determine a reliable amount of household contributions to education.

Considering the upcoming longer-term reforms in the education sector, UNICEF Montenegro is seeking the services of an international consultant to develop an education budget brief to provide an analysis of education spending trends, composition, financing and equity of education spending and a summary of and recommendations on critical financing issues related to adequacy, allocative efficiency, effectiveness and equity of the current and past education spending.

How can you make a difference?

The purpose of this assignment is to support the Ministry of Education to develop a detailed Education Budget Brief, including Impact Action Plan, to assess the extent to which the 2021/22 national budget addresses the education financing needs for children in Montenegro and based on findings develop recommendations on ways to improve education budgeting during the 2023 budget cycle.

The primary objective is to provide up to date evidence to the Government through updating the existing budget analysis within the ESA (2015-2020) with financial data from 2021 and 2022 to consider the medium-term impact of COVID and the consequences of the global crisis caused by conflicts in Ukraine, which are expected to slower growth and accelerate inflation.

The secondary objective is to strengthen in-country capacities for understanding the national budget related to education and helping shape budget decisions in ways that can help leverage resources and optimize results for children, especially in the light of the announced reforms in education sector which will require from the Government to develop the Education Reform Plan (2024-2030) and a costed Action Plan. Timely production and dissemination of the budget brief can not only help to inform decisions about the allocation of funds for education programs and services but also support advocacy mainly towards the Government and the Parliament of Montenegro, international financial institutions (IFIs), bilateral donors and the private sector.

The education budget brief will build on the existing evidence from the ESA 2015-2020 to inform budget decisions for the next fiscal year and upcoming policy reform processes to ensure quality education for all children. In line with the ESA, the focus of the education budget brief will be on early childhood education, and primary and secondary education. In addition, analysis of 2021 budget and current budget (2022) will be performed to accompany the existing available analysis and information. To the extent possible, the brief will assess efficiency, effectiveness, equity and adequacy of past spending.

The education budget brief will be accompanied by an Impact Action Plan that describes how the main recommendations will be transformed into actions and influence. This companion document is expected to provide step-by-step guidance for developing an action plan, which covers: (i) key asks; (ii) expected results; (iii) target audience; (iv) partners; (v) actions; and (vi) progress. The objective of the Impact Action Plan is to give clarity to key partners involved about what needs to be changed and how this can happen.

The main findings will be communicated and presented to the main stakeholders to inform their participation in the budget preparation and budget discussion/approval process.

The work of the consultant will mainly focus on the review of budgetary and financial plans and expenditure records of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance for the period 2021/2022. Therefore, the consultant is expected to conduct a detailed budget analysis of the 2021 national budget, which included changes in budget structure when compared to 2015-2020 due to the following reasons: 1) in 2021 the Ministry of Education was merged with three former ministries (e.g. Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports) and with this traditional budget lines for education were modified, 2) the Ministry of Finance started the transition process towards the program based budgeting methodology. In 2022, the current Government reorganized public administration system and made a technical revision of the 2022 budget under which the Ministry of Education returned to having the separate budget for its programs and services. The Government announced substantial revision of the 2022 budget by the end of July to reflect on the negative consequences of the Ukraine conflict which raise commodity prices and is expected to accelerate inflation. The consultant is expected to analyze both the 2022 technical revision of the budget and the 2022 supplementary budget, if available.

In order to understand the methodological changes that happened during the 2021/2022 budget cycles the consultant will be required to collect data and gather information from key government officials within the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance through interviews and consultations. In addition, the assignment will require a review of existing public finance studies, including Education Sector Analysis (2015-2020) and Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment. For the equity of financing, it will be important to review the latest MONSTAT’s SILC data, EMIS, MICS and MICS EAGLE data.

Before finalizing the budget brief, the consultant is expected to support UNICEF CO Montenegro to develop an Impact Action Plan to identify partners which will engage them in the advocacy process in a timely manner.

Deliverables: Under the direct supervision of Education Officer and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the consultant will be responsible for below listed tasks:

The consultant shall produce an Education Budget brief as a final deliverable, which will include the Impact Action Plan and Recommendations Summary Note. The document should encompass analysis of both recurrent and capital spending from the national budget. Local level budgets will not be considered in this exercise, but the consultant is encouraged to address the role of local budgets in the nation’s education finance system when it is identified important in developing the Impact Action Plan. The Brief will cover 2021/2022 fiscal year budget allocations as well as actual expenditures since 2015 (by using data from the cost and financing chapter of the Education Sector Analysis 2015-2020). If an updated medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) is available, it will also include projected budget allocations. Subject to agreement and validation, it is intended that the Budget Brief comprises of the following components:

  • Short summary of education finance system to provide an overview of key policy and/or strategy documents and recent sector performance;
  • Education spending trends: present education sector spending trends over time, understand the overall priority of the education sector within the national budget, and compare against national and international targets as well as to similar countries;
  • Composition of education spending: describe the composition of education spending, including by ministries/institutions that deliver educational services for children, by levels of education and by the type of spending (recurrent and capital, staff vs non staff expenditure, etc. );
  • Adequacy: assess whether the current system provides enough resources to permit schools to provide the level of education required under the constitution/law;
  • Budget credibility and execution: evaluate the credibility of the education sector budget (i.e. the relationship between budget allocations and actual expenditures) and the capacity of implementing agencies to spend available funds;
  • Equity of education spending: understand whether education spending is prioritizing the most disadvantaged students and delivering results for all students and whether children alike receive equal share of funding;
  • Financing the education sector: understand the main sources of financing for the education sector and identify potential vulnerabilities as well as opportunities for sustaining investments in the sector;
  • Address the impact and implications of COVID 19 and Ukraine Crisis on education finance;
  • Recommendations: provide summaries of the most important key findings and accompanying recommendations, presented in order of priority, which can be used as a standalone summary note for advocacy purposes;
  • Impact Action Plan: to effectively operationalize the main recommendations from the brief support UNICEF CO to put together a short action plan to give the clarity to partners about what needs to be changed and how this can happen.

Under the section “Work Assignment Overview” there is an indicative schedule spelling out the main tasks, deliverables and timelines for the assignment, which will be adjusted jointly with UNICEF.

Tasks: 1. Update the Budget Analysis 2021/2022 (Collect relevant public finance documentation from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and relevant sector ministries; Conduct thorough desk review and analysis of all relevant data sources and public finance analyses; Hold working meetings with UNICEF and Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance; Develop first draft of the updated budget analysis for the period 2021/2022 and compare data with key financial findings from the ESA 2015-2020) 2. Develop the first draft of the Education Budget Brief, including initial recommendations. Due date: 3. Develop the Impact Action Plan in consultations with UNICEF CO. Due date: 4. Finalization of the Brief, with the incorporated comments and feedback provided by UNICEF CO, RO Social Policy and PF4C Advisor and Ministry of Economy (maximum 10 pages) 5. Prepare the presentation in PPT format and present the key findings to relevant stakeholders

Deliverables: 1. Submit populated Excel sheets including relevant data for budget analysis for the period 2021/2022 and drafts of tables and graphs describing key trends in the budgets during the overall period 2015/2022. Due date: By 15th September (7 days) 2. First draft of budget brief submitted for discussions and joint review with UNICEF. Due date: By 23th September (4 days); 3. Submit the draft Impact Action Plan. Due date: By 29th September (1 day) 4. Second draft of budget brief submitted to UNICEF CO, including summary of recommendations. Due date: By 8th October (1 day) 5. PPT with key findings and asks to be presented at the technical meeting with key stakeholders. Due date: By 20th October (1day)

Methodology: The assignment will involve the following four stages: data collection and analysis (including desk review and working meetings with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the RO Public Finance Adviser charged with guiding and providing quality assuring on the process and outputs), report writing, validation (including agreement on key findings and messages, finalization of the budget brief and dissemination), presentation of the findings to key stakeholders. The applicants are required to submit a methodological approach (max 5 pages in PPT format) they can/plan to use to assess efficiency, equity and adequacy of education spending.

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

Education and experience:

  • An advanced University Degree in Economics and Education, Public Policy, Governance or other relevant areas;
  • At least 5 years of experience in Education Finance;
  • A solid knowledge of education finance and budgeting, as well as PFM instruments, and proven experience on similar analyses of the State Budget with focus on education sector;

Language:

  • High proficiency in English;

Other:

  • Ability to complete the task in a tight schedule;
  • Strong analytical and writing skills, and the ability to present the results in a simple language, making use of interesting visual aid (maps, graphs and other visual tools);
  • Full computer literacy, incl. an advanced knowledge of excel;

Payment schedule: The payments will be made upon successful completion of the deliverables and submission of invoices. UNICEF reserves the right to withhold all or a portion of payment if performance is unsatisfactory, if work/outputs is incomplete, not delivered or for failure to meet deadlines.

Mandatory E-learning: Upon conducting the recruitment process and prior to the signing of the contract, the consultant will be required to complete the following online courses. All certificates should be presented as part of the contract. Ethics and Integrity at UNICEF, Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority (PSEAA), and Sexual Exploitation Abuse (PSEA) Consultants and Individual Contractors must complete the following course before commencement of any travel on behalf of UNICEF. BSAFE security training. Any consultant or individual contractor who is issued a UNICEF email address must complete the following courses no later than 30 days after signature of contract: Fraud Awareness, Information Awareness Security Course (only for consultants/individual contractors with a UNICEF email address). The above courses can be found on Agora through the following link: AGORA (unicef.org) . Course completion certificates should be shared and retained with the human resources unit of the hiring office.

Selection method: All applicants will be screened against qualifications and requirements set above. Candidates fully meeting all the requirements will be further evaluated based on the criteria below. The proposal will be evaluated against the following criteria:

A) Technical criteria – Technical evaluation process / Maximum points: 70 1. Technical Criteria – 70 % of total evaluation– max. 70 points • Education: 20 points • Previous experience: 25 points • Technical questions at the interview: 25 points • Other: N/A

Only candidates who obtained at least 70% of points from the technical part (who will score at least 49 points) will be qualified for considering for financial proposal evaluation

B) Financial criteria – evaluation of financial proposal - Maximum points: 30 The applicants are requested to submit their financial proposal consisting of a professional fee only for the services to be provided. • Financial scores will be calculated using the formula [lowest offer / financial offer of the candidate x 30].

Costs indicated are estimated. Final rate shall follow the “best value for money” principle, i.e., achieving the desired outcome at the lowest possible fee. Consultants will be asked to stipulate all-inclusive fees, including lump sum travel and subsistence costs, as applicable.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

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

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

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.

Remarks:

Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

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. The candidate may also be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid).

Added 5 months ago - Updated 4 months ago - Source: unicef.org