Consultancy Service: To Explore the Factors that Strongly Influence the Learning of Children with Disabilities

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BACKGROUND

Mureke Dusome is a USAID-funded activity, which aims to foster partnerships between schools and the broader community to improve children’s literacy outcomes. Save the Children (SC) leads implementation with extensive field support from its local partner organizations, Umuhuza and Uwezo Youth Empowerment (UWEZO). The goal of Mureke Dusome is to contribute to the Rwandan Education Sector under the Government of Rwanda’s (GoR) national development priorities, whose strategic plan acknowledges the importance of developing lifelong reading habits and ensuring students develop the foundational skills necessary to support high literacy levels. Mureke Dusome is modelled on a theory of change that posits that children learn to read better when they are in supportive communities and home literacy environments, with the necessary time and materials outside of school to practice reading.

Mureke Dusome’s Revised Results Framework has four Intermediate Results (IR):

  • IR 1: Sustain capacity strengthening for school leadership to promote school-community partnerships and improve student literacy.
  • IR 2: Sustain increased effective community and parental involvement to improve literacy skills.
  • IR 3: Sustain Improvements to the culture of reading.
  • IR 4: Promote equity in literacy work, with a focus on gender empowerment and the inclusion of children with disabilities.

By 2018 and in collaboration with local authorities and communities, Mureke Dusome had established 2524 reading clubs across the country in each village where there is a public or government-aided school. Children aged 7 to 9 (P1-P3 children) attend reading clubs in their communities. The number of children with disabilities that attend reading clubs is very low: approximately 1% of all children attending the reading clubs. Mureke Dusome aims to ensure that the number of children with disabilities that attend reading clubs increases so that they get the opportunity to participate in reading activities and develop their literacy competences.

In order to implement Intermediate Result 4: “Promote equity in literacy work, with a focus on gender empowerment and the inclusion of children with disabilities,” Mureke Dusome, in collaboration with Uwezo Youth Empowerment (UWEZO), is planning to conduct awareness sessions among parents to support their children with disabilities to develop literacy skills. The Literacy Champions that support children in the reading clubs will also be trained on how to identify and support children with disabilities in reading clubs.  To integrate evidence-based planning and learning in the project implementation process, Save the Children is planning to conduct an assessment within the community to explore factors and barriers that affect and influence the learning and education of children with disabilities.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

This study seeks to explore the factors that most strongly influence (positively or negatively) the learning and education of children with disabilities. This study will also explore the barriers preventing children with disabilities in Rwanda from developing literacy skills.

The study is also expected to provide information on which enablers Save the Children can use to make the program more accessible to children with disabilities, including assistive strategies, formats or devices that could be used to address the challenges and explorations of cost-effective or low and high technology solutions to address the realities of rural and urban areas. It will also highlight practical and implementable recommendations to address the barriers that affect children with disabilities to develop literacy skills.

The main findings will be used to:

  • Generate evidence from which to base advocacy for the relevant and adequate investment in the implementation of the Special Needs and Inclusive Education Policy. It will also raise the profile of the issues of children with disabilities and low literacy attainment with Rwanda Education Board, Ministry of Education, NCPD and government partners in education.
  • Improve early intervention and education placement of children with disabilities.
  • Inform the design of inclusive education activities in future early grade reading programs in Rwanda.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

KEY QUESTION:

What factors most strongly influence (positively or negatively) the learning and education of children with disabilities?

SPECIFIC or GUIDING QUESTIONS:

  1. How do caregivers, children, school and local community shape the functioning, learning or education of children with disabilities?
    • How do parents, children, caregivers, school teachers, local and national leaders perceive and describe children with disabilities—especially their learning ability? What practices do parents, children, caregivers, school teachers, local and national leaders employ to support the learning of children with disabilities? What do caregivers identify as their role in supporting children with disabilities learning?
  2. What are the major barriers and challenges that affect access, participation, and achievement of children with disabilities in their learning at school and in community literacy activities?
  3. What pathways or opportunities are available for the education of children with disabilities?
    • What support do children with disabilities receive to access and participate in their learning at school and in the community literacy activities?
    • In what ways can barriers that affect children with disabilities in their learning process (including their participation in literacy activities) be removed?

SCOPE OF WORK

  • Develop an appropriate detailed study design to address the objectives and answer the research questions of the study within the scope of the available budget;
  • Conduct a literature review to identify from a wide range of stakeholders existing practices, challenges and successes in supporting children with disabilities to improve literacy skills; this includes identifying existing information, practices, needs, and gaps in the education of children with disabilities in Rwanda;
  • Collaborate with in-country staff, MINEDUC, REB, NUDOR, NCPD, UWEZO, PWDs, relevant INGOs to get ideas on research plan/tools (most of these stakeholders will also participate as key informants);
  • Develop research tools for the interviews/data collection;
  • Collect and analyze data, and produce a study report;
  • Present the final findings internally and externally to the stakeholders and partners;
  • Produce a study report incorporating comments from in-country staff and relevant stakeholders.

Deliverables:

  • A literature review and report of stakeholder meetings
  • An inception report describing the proposed methodology with an appropriate design to address the scope and objectives of the assessment as well as tools to be used in the assessment to be presented and approved by Save the Children prior to data collection;
  • Data collection tools developed (qualitative)
  • A good draft report for review by Save the Children
  • A final report of the study submitted; this includes a PowerPoint presentation of highlights of the study findings
  • A four-page summary/briefer
  • Support in the dissemination of findings internally and externally at the national level  

REPORTING AND TIMELINE

The consultant will work closely with the Save the Children Senior Research and Evaluation Specialist and Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Specialist and reports to the Chief of Party of USAID Mureke Dusome Project for the duration of the assignment, not exceeding 20 working days. The study design to be submitted to Save the Children by 20th April 2020 and the final report will be submitted by 12th June 2020.  The consultant will submit regular progress reports and field reports throughout the data collection period and provide a final report. The final report should be in line with Save the Children evaluation standards and focused on practical and implementable recommendations.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE OF CONSULTING FIRM & LEAD CONSULTANT

ESSENTIAL CRITERIA

  • A copy of the company registration certificate from RDB.
  • Company profile with a physical address.
  • Copy of minimum of three Service Completion Letters or certificates for similar work performed in the last 2 years.
  • Detailed Financial and Technical proposal.

PREFERED CRITERIA

  • Lead consultant should have at least a Master’s degree in Social Sciences or Development Studies with at least five years of experience with proven expertise in qualitative research, data collection methodologies, and skills and experience in developing programmes, strategies and policies.   
  • Proven experience in research, especially on disability issues. Prior experience with similar work in inclusion will be an added advantage;
  • Demonstrated ability to deliver results to specified deadlines and quality standards;
  • Proven experience and ability to lead accessible focus group discussions in Kinyarwanda, especially with children and key informant interviews taking into consideration those with hearing and speech difficulties.
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills as well as verbal communication skills (in English).
  • Experience working with people with disabilities and Government institutions, especially MINEDUC, MINALOC, MIGEPROF, NCPD and Organizations of People with Disabilities, is an added advantage;
  • An understanding of the educational, political, economic, social and cultural context of Rwanda in particular, and Africa in general;
  • Understanding of approaches to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience is critical;
  • Proven capacity to develop sound working relationships and to work effectively within a professional multi-disciplinary team.

CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY:

Any employee, consultant, contractor or the supplier undertaking an activity on behalf of SCI must sign the Child Safeguarding - Declaration of Acceptance Form and comply with the SCIs Child Safeguarding Policy which is a statement of SCI’s commitment to preventing abuse and protecting children with whom it comes into contact.

This extends not only to children with whom SCI and its partners work directly, but also includes children whom staff is responsible for. SCI believes that the situation of children must be improved through the promotion of their rights supported and demonstrated by all members of staff. Save the Children International's Code of Conduct sets out the standards which all staff members and contracted personnel and agencies must adhere to.

APPLICATION SPECIFICATIONS

Interested candidates (National or International that have sub-offices in Rwanda) should submit their technical and financial proposals in one e-mail sent to rwanda.logistics@savethechildren.org with e-mail subject: “A study to explore the factors that strongly influence the learning of children with disabilitiesnot later than 8th April 2020@5:00PM.