National Consultant for Knowledge, attitudes and practices study on Early Childhood Development

UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund

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Application deadline in 5 days: Monday 8 Mar 2021


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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.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, dignity

UNICEF Gulf Area Office (UNICEF GAO) supports the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to advance the rights of children under the framework of a sub-regional programme ending in 2023. This programme emphasizes four priority areas: advancing early childhood development, strengthening child protection systems, improving the collection and quality of data, and strengthening partnerships with a view to amplifying results for children.

Under the early childhood development pillar, UNICEF and partners will be pursuing two streams: the development, adoption and promotion of early childhood development services, policies and programmes; and to increase the number of communities, families, and caregivers who are reached through nurturing and parenting programmes.

The focus on early childhood development is borne out of the emerging evidence that the “first 1000 days” of a child’s life – from pregnancy through to the age of 2 years of age, presents an unparalleled opportunity to invest in a child’s development and future potential due to the sheer amount of transformation that occurs in a child’s brain. In fact, evidence has shown that 80% of a child’s brain has formed by the age of 3. UNICEF’s 2017 Programme Guidance for Early Childhood Development states: the brain requires multiple inputs: it requires stimulation and care to spark neural connections across multiple regions of the brain, to increase its capacity and function for early cognitive and language skills, social competency and emotional development; it requires good health and nutrition at the right time to feed and nourish not only the body but also the brain; it requires safety and protection to buffer against stress and pollution and allow absorption of nutrients for the growth and development of the nervous system, including the brain. All these aspects of the environment must work together to build a better brain during the early childhood period of life.

In 2017, the medical journal, the Lancet launched a Series, “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” consolidating the latest evidence and research on what works in early childhood development. This evidence promotes an accepted standard of care through the ‘nurturing care framework’ which encourages a seamless investment in health, nutrition, early learning, protection as well as responsive caregiving.

National stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the Family Affairs Council, are seeking to invest in appropriate context-responsive interventions, policies and programmes that would strengthen the availability and quality of integrated early childhood development services. To be able to tailor these efforts appropriately, partners in country must be equipped with an understanding of the current situation – particularly, the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) that drive parent/caregiver interaction with children from conception through to the first two years of life. With this information, national practitioners and stakeholders will be better placed to identify appropriate interventions and services packages that address key gaps.

Saudi Arabia’s national VISION 2030 plan gives emphasis to human capital formation. This includes specific goals to “enhance family involvement in preparing for their children's future” and to promote “lifelong learning”. UNICEF GAO, the Family Affairs Council and its partners are committed to ensuring this research product contributes to these national efforts.

Objective of this assignment:

Produce a report on prevailing knowledge, attitudes and practices of caregivers on ECD in Saudi Arabia, informed by discussions with service providers and caregivers and a literature review, to better understand early childhood development care knowledge, attitudes and practices in the country.

How can you make a difference?

The institution/international consultants with support from the National Consultant are expected to undertake the following:

i. Organize focus groups, individual interviews, disseminate questionnaires and apply other methodological means to collect accurate, in-depth and confidential responses to key questions determining knowledge, attitudes and practices in raring and parenting young children. Conduct in-depth interviews with UNICEF GAO, the Family Affairs Council, and a number of other key line ministries to develop the scope and methodology for producing a report on prevailing knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices related to raring and parenting young children. The interviews with service providers, decision makers and statutory bodies will also gather information related to legislation, policies and programmes currently informing early childhood development services. The inception report should list and critically discuss the materials and documents received for the desk review and propose a methodology for conducting the focus group discussions with caregivers and key informant interviews with service providers, including the tools elaborated for this purpose, and it would offer an outline of how the final report is expected to be organized.

Deliverable: Inception Report expected week of 25th April. It should include the literature review, a list of proposed stakeholders to interview, interview protocols, and outline for the final report. Please note that all materials developed for the purposes of interviewing caregivers will be subject to UNICEF’s ethical clearance review.

ii. Carry-out the focus group discussions and interviews based on the ‘nurturing care framework’. Given the diversity of geography in the Kingdom it is anticipated the interviews and discussions will allow for a means of gathering input from regions outside the capital. The process for doing this, the tools to be used, and approach would be developed under the guidance of UNICEF GAO and the Family Affairs Council.

Deliverable: Summary of Reports from focus groups, interviews and discussion. Analysis of difference is knowledge, attitudes and practices based on key demographic, economic, educational, gender and other intervening variables

iii. Prepare the analytical report along with the literature review presenting findings and analysis. The report should also annex the literature review in accordance with the agreed outline.

Timeframe: First draft to be prepared by May 30.

Deliverable: First draft (including literature review and KAP analysis of focus groups and key informant interviews).

iv. Prepare for the validation workshop. This would include integration of UNICEF’s feedback, involve the preparation of the agenda, a list of the expected stakeholders, and presentation to share the findings of the report.

Timeframe: Validation workshop expected to take place week of 24 June.

Deliverable: Presentation, agenda, and related materials for workshop.

v. Finalization of the report with a section for recommendations to be considered when developing a national action plan for strengthening early childhood development services for children under 2 years of age.

Timeframe: 29 July

Deliverable: Completion of report comprising of the literature review, KAP assessment process and findings, analysis of findings for desegregated groups of decision-makers, service providers, parents and caretakers and concrete policy recommendations.

Key Tasks and Responsibilities of the National Consultant:

Under the overall leadership and guidance of the International Consultants, the National Consultant who will be based in KSA will be specifically tasked with the following key roles and responsibilities:

• Overall coordination of all the data collection and information gathering activities in KSA, including secondary data and other related documentation in support of the KAP study

• Identifying the right institution/interviewees for Key Informant Interviews (KIIs)

• Coordinate and facilitate the administration of Focus Group Discussions (based on the tools developed by UNICEF and international consultants)

• Compiling and recording qualitative data and prepare the transcripts

• Support interpretation/translation as required

• Providing latest available research papers, survey reports and related information and data in support of literature review and desk analysis

• Provide other related support as required by International Consultants

4. Ethical considerations

This consultancy involves primary data collections from individuals through Focus Group Discussions and Key Informant Interviews, and should follow the UNICEF Procedures for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Analysis ( ).

Before the collection of data (FDGs and KII) a written informed consent must be sought from all participants. The purpose of the study should be thoroughly explained to them, along with the role, and what information will be asked from them, and the assurance of the confidentiality and voluntariness of their answers.

The tools for data collection (FDGs and KII protocols, including the informed consent forms) and the inception report should be submitted to an Ethics Review Board for clearance. The UNICEF Regional Office for MENA will facilitate the process of request of the clearance.

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

A National Consultant will be recruited to provide technical, logistics and related support to the International consultants during the implementation of the KAP survey in KSA. The consultancy will be advertised widely through various channels for a period of 2 weeks to allow time to attract competent and suitable candidates in the country.

The national consultants to be hired should possess the following qualifications and competencies:

− Advanced degree in education, international development, social science, or a related field;

− At least 5-10 years of professional experience in development work and relevant work experience with Development partners is an added advantage

− Demonstrate a good analytical and report writing skills

− Strong ability to work with government officials and facilitate among various stakeholders

− Strong interpersonal and coordination skills and ability to adhere to deadlines

− Experience in translation and interpretation for research purposes

− Experience in conducting & facilitating field research on sensitive topics in Saudi Arabia

− Fluency in Arabic, proficiency in English Language (preferred)

− Ability to work effectively through email and other means of remote communications

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

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.


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.

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