Consultancy Terms of Reference
Feasibility Analysis Study of Scaling Up the Summer Pre-primary (10 week) Program in Lao PDR
Plan International is working in 50 developing countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas, Plan International aims to reach as many children as possible, particularly those who are excluded or marginalized with high quality programs that deliver long lasting benefits by increasing its income, working in partnership with others and operating effectively.
Plan International in Lao PDR or call “Plan Laos” has been working in Laos since 2007, and is delivering programs in Bokeo, Oudomxay and Saravane Province. Plan Laos’s focus in Laos is supporting children to access their rights to basic health care, clean water and sanitation and education. Disaster risk reduction is integrated in all the work we do, and Plan is committed to providing disaster response support in case of humanitarian disaster. Plan Laos is a leading INGO in the education and public health sectors in and leads and participates in a number of civil society and government sectoral working groups.
Plan Laos is requesting Expressions of Interest from qualified candidates/organizations to conduct the Feasibility Analysis Study of Scaling Up the Short Summer Pre-primary (10 week) Program in Lao PDR.
2. Background and Rationale
Access to Early Childhood Education (ECE) services in Lao PDR has increased in recent years and Laos is on track to achieve the 2016-2020 ESDP target of 80% enrollment of 5-year-olds by 2020. However, the most disadvantaged children experienced higher rates of dropout and repetition, and poorer learning outcomes, in the first few grades of primary school. It is unlikely that kindergarten or pre-primary services will be scaled up to remote locations with poor roads and low population density any time soon due to budget constraints. Yet those children often have the highest level of need, and can benefit the most from ECE investments. The 2021-2025 ESSDP prioritizes providing flexible ECE models to help reach children in these communities.
One of the important strategies in 2021-2025 ESSDP is to scaling up of proven innovations for 3-5-year olds, with priority on programs for 5-year olds, such as Community Child Development Groups, Multi-Age Teaching, Reading Readiness Program, Short program during the school Break-Summer Pre-primary Program-SPP (10 weeks) to increased access to quality ECE.
Between 2015-2019, Plan Laos implemented the LEARN Project, testing a low-cost, accelerated summer pre-primary (SPP) model with the objective to help close the gap for disadvantaged children who are about to enter grade 1 with no early childhood education experience and improve their school readiness. The gender responsive summer pre-primary (SPP) model is implemented for 10 weeks from mid-June through mid-August, immediately before the start of school year. It promotes gender responsive holistic child development that is aligned with the MOES’s national standards for ECE. The course runs for 7 hours a day for 50 days or 350 hours in total, and each day is broken down into different sessions through a daily routine. The overall approach is play-based, and the classroom is organized into 6 learning corners, including creativity, music, puzzle, reading, role play and science. Handwashing, tooth brushing and nutritious snacks are also promoted. Teacher training has been delivered through a cascade model with RIES and MOES ECE staff as master trainers and PESS and DESB as trainers of grade 1 teachers who deliver the SPP program. Teachers are supported by school heads and DESB staff. The Research Institute for Education and Sports (RIES) and MOES team have reviewed and revised the teacher guides, children’s workbooks, and related materials to align with national ECE standards. Materials include teacher guidebook, classroom monitoring book, math and Lao language workbooks, Number, shape and color cards, Vocabulary Cards.
Results indicate that the children enrolled in SPP outperformed those in the typical pre-primary course in terms of learning outcomes. Children (both girls and boys) in the summer pre-primary improved the most at mid-term when compared to the control group and those in the typical (9-month) pre-primary schools. Girls’ and boys’ gains were greater in Lao language, although they also improved in local language. The largest improvements were seen in numeracy scores, Literacy and vocabulary also saw improvements.
The final impact evaluation conducted in 2019 found that the SPP contribute a significant increase in on-time grade 1 enrollment, and an increase in school readiness across development domains. Recognizing the effectiveness of the SPP model, theLao MoES has included SPP as an innovative strategy for reaching unreachable children in its 9th Education & Sports Sector Development Plan (2021-2025). In pursuit of this, the plan identifies the following as key foundational activities among others: (a) feasibility analysis of scaling up innovative interventions, such as the 10-week program; and (b) develop the implementation manual on the 10-week program
3. Purpose of the study
Plan Laos aims to conduct the Feasibility Analysis Study of Scaling Up the Short Summer Pre-primary Program (10 week) in line with key activities as stated in the 2021-2025 ESSDP. The study needs to conduct of a). mapping different ECE provisions and gaps in small rural remote communities for 40 ESDP priority districts; b). cost analysis of SPP per child/community; and c). Capacity Training need of DESB/PESS/MoES for scaling up SPP into other districts and provinces.
Users of the study report will primarily be the Ministry of Education and Sports (central, provincial and district) and development partners, in particular, Plan International Laos. They will be using the findings of the study to inform policy and program decisions regarding the scale up of SPP to support the achievement of ESSDP Intermediate Outcome 1: Increased access to quality ECE: (Part I High Level outcome, IOs 1.2 and 1.3).
4. Key study questions
The study seeks to find the answers to the following questions:
Mapping of ECE provision and gap:
· Availability of ECE Services/program: What ECE services/programs exist, their target clientele and service providers in small rural remote communities in 40 ESSDP priority districts?**
· Coverage: How many communities and children (disaggregated by sex) are currently implementing/enrolled in these programs (i.e. Summer Pre-primary Program-SPP (10 weeks), Community Child Development Groups, Multi-Age Teaching, Reading Readiness Program) in small rural remote communities?**
· Gaps: How many communities and children (disaggregated by sex) are without pre-primary and/or no pre-primary education service programmed for now and the next two years across the country? What are the barriers to their access to pre-primary/early childhood education services?**
· Potential SPP sites: What are the characteristics of community; community knowledge, attitudes and practices around early childhood education; opportunities and barriers impacting the introduction of SPP; and how many communities are potentially suitable for utilization of the SPP model on a per district and per province basis?**
· What are costs associated with the implementation of the SPP model? What are the most critical and minimal needed cost to run and sustain the SPP model?
· What is the cost per child and the cost per community to run gender responsive SPP in Laos?
· What are possible funding sources for these costs? How much of it can be borne by communities and how much by MoES?
· What is the overall cost for MoES to implement this model in a typical community?
Local Government partner capacity Analysis:
· To what extent do local government partners recognize SPP as a viable alternative to address gaps in ECE provision in remote, rural communities>
· To what extent do government staff (MoES, PESS and DESB) know SPP and have the knowledge and skills to implement the SPP model?
· What are main training needs required for government staffs to run and scale up SPP in the future?
The consultant(s)/consultant team is expected to propose a child friendly, gender responsive and participatory study methodology to gather both quantitative and qualitative data and to draw on secondary and primary data. The consultant will be responsible for ensuring appropriate data-collection techniques are implemented in line with Plan International’s Child Safeguarding Policy. It is anticipated that this methodology will include:
· An analysis and desk review of existing resources: the project documents including project proposal, progress reports and meeting minutes.
· Collection and study of available relevant secondary information from MOES and ECE stakeholders or EMIS and use of it during data analysis and report preparation.
· Conduct interviews, consultations, or hold focus group discussions with key stakeholders. For instance, Development Partners mainly supporting ECE sub-sector work such as UNICEF, WB, SCI, WV and etc., government representatives from related to ECE work at central and provincial/district level; and Plan Laos staffs.
· In addition, required to collaborate with American Institute for Research (AIR) on the cost analysis. AIR can support the costing analysis with framework/tools/analysis of data.
Mapping of ECE provision and gap
· The consultant(s) will work closely with Educational Research and Evaluation Center under RIES in undertaking the research. Under the forum of Focal Group 5 of the ESWG – MoES will ensure ownership and uptake within Ministry of Education. Also disseminate research and analysis findings to the Development Partners through various means, such as seminar meetings, websites, publications, etc.
· Review existing tools and develop appropriate tools, and methodology in English and Lao language for conducting the evaluation.
· Meeting with key development partners, Unicef, World bank, Plan International, Save the Children International, World Vision, Child Fund, Santi-Association, etc., and collect data vis tools and used data from MoES EMIS.
· Collate information and data cleaning and analysis of the key findings.
· AIR, Plan Canada will work together with Plan Laos to do cost analysis and then share with the consultant so that it is incorporate into the full report.
· Conduct interview with Department of Early Childhood Education to collect sample cost related typical 9-month pre-primary course.
Local Government partner capacity Analysis:
· Develop tools
· Conduct interview with Department of Early Childhood Education, PESS in Bokeo and Oudomxay.
· Work Plan (including methodology, timeline).
· Inception report detailing evaluation/study methodology, and data collection tools.
· Draft Report (no more than 30 pages excluding Annexes)
· Final Report with executive summary, key findings and recommendations and a summary Power Point presentation.
· Conduct final meeting with MOES to present result and recommendations and endorsement.
7. Time Frame and Locations
The consultant/team will be engaged for approximately 30 working days, over the period 15th October 2021 to 30th November 2021. The consultancy will be based on Vientiane Capital and will require travel to the provinces if it is needed.
Table of Timeline
Activity Time Days of work Responsible
Inception call/workshop 15-20/10/21 1 Lead by consultant. Plan will support in coordination with RIES.
Submission of inception report 21-22/10/21 1 Consultant
Desk review 25-29/10/21 3 Consultant
Developing tools 1-3/11/21 4 Consultant
Consultation workshop 4/11/21 1 Consultant, Plan will support in coordination with RIES
Data collection (Interviews) 8-19/11/21 10 Consultant lead in technical.
Plan will support in coordination with RIES and Development Partners.
Data entry and cleaning 20-21/11/21 2 Consultant
Data analysis 22-24/11/21 3 Consultant
Submission of draft report with
Power Point presentation slides 25-28/11/21 4 Consultant
Submission of final report,
incorporating feedback 29-30/11/21 1 Consultant
8. Qualifications and Skills Required
· Minimum 5-7 years of experience in Monitoring and Evaluation, including conducting and managing final evaluation of national education projects required
· Knowledge and experience of quantitative and qualitative social research methods.
· Knowledge and understanding of the education sector and the early childhood education sub-sector, in particular
· Excellent communication skills including in communicating the findings of the evaluation to relevant stakeholders clearly and concisely in English and Lao
· Strong consultative skills with communities, especially children, and experience in representation and consultation with government partners.
· Excellent analytical, facilitation and writing skills in English
· In-depth understanding and knowledge of the Lao context.
09. Child Safeguarding Policy
Plan Laos is committed to protect children and to prevent them from any harm they may be exposed to through our work. Therefore, the successful applicant will be requested to sign and comply with Plan’s Child and Young People Safeguarding Policy.
Throughout the process, compliance with Plan’s Child and Young People Safeguarding Policy and standards must be assured.
 Ministry of Education and Sports (2020). Education and Sports Sector Development Plan, 2021-2025, Part II: Sub-sector Plan. Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
How to apply
· A cover letter outlining your relevant experience and your proposed approach (methodology) (max 3 pages). The methodology should include an overview of the types of data collection tools for each informant group, elaborate on the sample size, identify enumerators and translators (if required).
· Your CV.
· An example of a project review or evaluation you have done previously, including a writing sample.
· Proposed daily fees (if a team is proposed, please provide average daily fee and total)
Please submit applications via email to Laos.firstname.lastname@example.org with cc to Pengmoua.Nengthongpavue@plan-international.org on or before 5:00 pm local time, on 22nd September 2021. Please include the text Feasibility Analysis Study of Scaling Up the Summer Pre-primary (10 week) Program in Lao PDR in the subject of your email.**