National Consultant: Digital, flexible Open Learning Consultant
Purpose of Activity/Assignment:
Access to education has been limited due to years of protracted conflict, exposure to violence and the humanitarian crises resulting in 1.9 million people in displacement with dire need to basic services. Education has been mostly affected due to the destruction of schools resulting in more than 30% of schools at the primary and secondary levels running with double or triple shifts both in Federal Iraq and KRG. About 42.6% of schools (pre-primary, primary, secondary and vocational) need rehabilitation in Federal Iraq and an additional 13.5% of schools do not meet the government standards1. According to MoE, there is need to build more than 7,000 schools to fill the gap due to the growing population and increased demand for education, needless to say that existing schools lack basic educational materials including desks, textbooks, stationery and WASH facilities which evidently will increase the risk of children dropping out. There is also a shortage of teachers for those children who are attending schools, and the quality of education remains a concern. The shortage of teachers and school buildings means classrooms are overcrowded with as many as 60 students per class.
MICS 2018 shows that 91.6% enrollment at primary level yet enrollment at lower and upper secondary remain stagnant at 57.5% with girls being more impacted due to a lower transition rate at 87.3% compared to boys 94.2%, School-Based Management (SBM) has been a welcome approach to address issues related to girls’ education and transition.
The COVID-19 pandemic came on top of these problems and humanitarian crises and the negative impact of COVID-19 on children’s education continues to persist to date. The pandemic resulted in school closure and suspension of formal and non-formal education leaving 10 million children and adolescents out of school without access to learning. Even before the pandemic, schools in Iraq had already been closed at start of the 2019-2020 academic year due to demonstrations and political unrest, affecting children’s learning in central and southern governorates. The Federal Ministry of Education reopened schools on 29th November 2020 with one day of in-person classes for each level and the remaining days of the week using online/remote learning modality. To enable online learning, MoE established alternative learning approaches through Newton platform and Education TV with a special focus on the 6th, 9th and 12th grades, leaving inadequate time slots for broadcasting primary level lessons. Given the need and demands, UNICEF supported the opening of a new satellite channel covering all primary grade lessons. The number of viewers for Education TV channel reached 13,528,344 while the number of followers was 1,099,187 as of 2022.
UNESCO and UNICEF supported the Federal Ministry of Education to develop distance learning teacher training package to ensure students’ access to learning and expose teachers to use new technology to transfer learning content to children using various online applications. This was especially useful during the partial re-opening of schools in 2021. Additionally, MoE KRG advanced online learning by establishing (with UNICEF support) teacher training platform enhancing teachers’ and supervisors’ skills development infrastructure in order to ensure a wider reach.
Scope of Work:
The overall objective is to support the Ministries of Education in Federal Iraq and KRG to accelerate digital, open and flexible learning and continue investing in distance and digital education to expose students to modern learning techniques and to ensure education continuity during unexpected school closures, such as COVID-19 related school closures, while considering disability inclusion.
The MoE federal recognizes the need to explore strategies to reduce disparities in accessing distance and digital education between governorates, rural and urban areas, and female and male students due to limited access to devices and connectivity. The MoE also explores strategies to support students who have fallen behind their peers during school closures due to COVID-19 through online remedial classes.
The consultant will work under the overall supervision of the Education Specialist, UNICEF Iraq Country Office, and in collaboration with the Ministries of Education at federal and KRG level, and the relevant General Directorates of Education.
UNICEF Education Programme will support and facilitate contacts with both Ministries of Education as well as other relevant stakeholders.
• Identification of the needed reforms to improve pre- and in- service teachers’ skills in digital and open learning approaches
• Strategies to reduce disparities in access to learning
• Analysis of the cost effectiveness of digital, flexible, and open learning.
The extent to which digital, flexible open learning addressed learning barriers and reduced disparities in Iraq during the COVID-19 pandemic
• Analyses of the digital education context, emerging issues in education sector and the extent to which open learning has been operationalized in schools including bottlenecks, lessons learned and recommendation to adapt digital, flexible open learning in the education system
• Explore strategies on how MoE could support students who have fallen behind their peers during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, including children with disabilities.
• The extent to which parents are engaged in their children’s learning using digital, flexible open approaches.
The consultant will report to the Educfation Specilaist, UNICEF Iraq Country Office
The consultancy is for a duration of 66 working days ending on 15 March 2024
Work Assignment Overview:
Estimated Number of Days
Review of relevant national policies and strategies and documents related to digital, flexible open learning.
An inception report detailing the expected content, methodology, timeframe for the assignment
16 working days
Develop an analytical advocacy and policy brief with clear cut sector specific recommendations for improving digital, flexible open learning.
An analytical advocacy brief on distance online digital learning
35 Working days
Organize a workshop to review and agree on key findings and for inclusion in the policy/advocacy brief by involving key governmental stakeholders.
Recommendations validated during the workshop and final report.
15 Working days
Minimum Qualifications required:
Advanced University degree in education, sociology, economics, public administration or related social science fields. Additional qualifications in information technology will be an added advantage.
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.