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Consultancy on Rapid Assessment of Incentive Programme

Consultancy on Rapid Assessment of Incentive Programme

Project title:   Consultancy on Rapid Assessment of the Incentive Programme
Section: Education
Key partners: World Vision, Development Initiative Programme, Action Aid
Location: 6 Programme Districts
Duration:  Period of 35 days
Start date:    16 June 2014
Reporting to:  Chief of Education, UNICEF


On Saturday, 15th March, 2014 the Directorate of Disease Prevention and Control (DDPC) of the The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) and UNICEF with support from the United Kingdom Government (DFID) are implementing an incentive scheme for enrolment of six year olds in school. This is part of the DFID supported Improving Schooling in Sierra Leone (ISIS) Programme. The ISIS Programme aims at having more children, from the most marginalised sections of society, enrolled in primary schools with more of them achieving better learning outcomes. The overall objective of the incentive scheme is to support 150,000 six year old children from the most marginalised sections of the society enrol into primary grade 1 in 1,625 primary schools.

Six districts were targeted for the pilot programme (Port Loko, Kenema, Pujenhun, Moyamba, Bombali and Tonkolili). Partnership agreements were established between UNICEF and three implementing partners for the pilot: Development Initiative Programme, World Vision and ActionAid. A total of 20,040 six year old children from 503 school catchment communities benefited from the DFID funded incentives. All implementing partners worked closely with community members and structures to identify the most marginalized children. However, while output level data were captured to a large extend, some information gaps exist on critical issues, especially related to the follow-ups and verifications on beneficiary attendance in school.


The purpose of the consultancy is to design and conduct a rapid assessment study to generate/capture evidence that will lead to modifications in current programme design and implementation in order to improve programme performance at all levels; document best practices, lessons learnt, challenges and provide recommendations for optimising the effectiveness of the incentive program and its scale up.

Specific Objectives:-

  • To describe/document the processes involved in the mapping, selection of beneficiaries and distribution of the incentives by implementing partners.
  • To explore and document beneficiary communities’ preferences for the different incentives and capture the current/anticipated effects of the incentives.
  • To provide evidence about if/how the incentives are contributing to early enrolment and attendance in school.
  • To use the evidence from the study to provide clear recommendations that will inform a strategy for improving future programme interventions.

Research Questions:

  • How well has the intervention been implemented? What were the processes/preparation by which the incentives were distributed (criteria determined, selection of schools, beneficiaries,  the distribution process)? What means of verification was used to ensure that the most vulnerable children were reached?  How can these processes be improved?
  • How participatory was the process at different levels? District? Chiefdom? School?  Were beneficiaries involved in the development and roll-out of the pilot programme? Which, if any, of the local structures were engaged in the process?  What motivated their involvement? Is there evidence of transparency and accountability to the intended recipients?
  • Did the incentives reach the right target groups? How was this verified? Are there identifiable impacts that are clear to recipient communities? What impact have they made e.g. in increasing attendance and retention in school? Are there actions that can be taken to improve the effectiveness and value for money?
  • Are the incentives contributing to improving attendance and retention in school? If yes, how? How do the findings compare across the incentives?  Are they conclusive enough to inform a re-design of the programme and/or scaling up of the programme?
  • What are the challenges faced by the implementing partners and lessons learnt in implementing this project for each of the incentives?
  • Is there any evidence of positive deviance or any innovations being used to increase effectiveness of incentives and the general programme implementation?  Are there other unintended results at school and community level?
  • Are the incentives perceived to be relevant to the context?
  • How are risks managed and mitigated? Is there good governance at all levels and what are the steps being taken to avoid corruption?
  • What are the recommendations and next steps for implementation scale up?

Scope of Work:-

  • Time period –  35 days
  • Geographical regions – 6 Districts of Sierra Leone
  • Project aspects – The study should examine the Incentive Programme related issues in at least 240 randomly selected school communities across 6 districts, as guided by (but not limited to) the project objectives and expected outputs and other relevant project documents.


The consultant will conduct a desk review of relevant literature and provide a detailed study methodology that takes into account the following study design guidelines:

A cross sectional study that utilises mixed methodologies will be used i.e. both quantitative and qualitative methods to capture relevant data at various levels:

    1. Quantitative component of the study:
  • This component of the study is to be conducted in all the 6 Programme Districts
  • A stratified random selection of at least 240 schools (from the programme catchment communities) is to be done and an equal number of randomly selected schools are to be assessed from each of the six districts before the closing of school term. This component will capture information on the 6 year old beneficiaries; head count on day of visit, their attendance and retention in schools, among other details.
    1. Qualitative component of the study:
  • Focus Group Discussions (FGDs): A total of 18 FGDs (3 FGD per each of the six programme districts). For purposively selected school catchment communities in each District, one group will be with women, another with men and the final one with equal representation of women and men.
  • Key informant interviews: A total of 36 key informants (6 key informants per each of the six programme districts). In each of the six programme districts, the key informants should include the following:
  1. Local Chiefs
  2. District Chief Administrator of Local Councils
  3. Primary School Heads
  4. Early Grade Teachers
  5. IP Staff Implementing Programme
  6. Representatives from Mother’s Clubs
  7. Representatives of SMCs/Child Welfare Committees

Plan for data analysis: The consultant is required to propose a detailed Data Analysis Plan.

Budget and Study Schedule: The Consultant will be required to provide a detailed budget and timeframe to accompany the submission. The overall duration of the project should not be more than 35 days. A detailed and realistic project schedule/ work plan should be included, indicating timing of activities, number of personnel, and results, as required (See milestones below).

The rapid assessment will be directly managed by the UNICEF Education Manager and the M & E Officer.

Implementation Milestones

  1. Appropriate study Work plan and Data Collection Tools linked to proposed methods developed. Consultant will be required to share draft tools with UNICEF.
  2. A debrief at the end of researchers’ training and pre-testing of tools prior to commencement of field work (covering revised tools).
  3. Completion of Data Collection: Consultant is expected to complete data collection in schools before the close of the school term.
  4. A draft final report:  the consultant should submit a final draft report, documenting the findings of the entire study. A PowerPoint presentation of the results will be required.
  5. Presentations to stakeholders for validation of the findings. Additionally, all data files and completed data tools must be submitted to UNICEF.

Skills and Qualifications:-

  • An experienced consultants (institution/individual) with proven professional experience in conducting research and evaluations of programs at national and international levels.
  • The Principal researcher(s) and team should have a strong mix of analytical, quantitative and qualitative research skills, with experience in evaluating education programmes, and should share any previous work done in this field in the recent five years.
  • Knowledge of computers including internet navigation and ability to use various office applications and databases.
  • Team members to be fluent in both English and local vernacular, with ability to write good quality reports and have relevant previous experience of working in research/data collection exercises.
  • The team will be expected to be able work independently and organise the research logistics with minimal assistance from UNICEF.

This rapid assessment is required to be implemented in the period before close of school term in mid-July 2014. Payment will be on deliverables.

Deliverables & Time Frame:-

The time frame for the entire consultancy should not exceed 35 Days.





Items Covered/Included


Tentative Time Frame

1. Work plan and Data Collection Tools Developed
  • Inception report and study work plan
  • Travel and Meeting Schedules
  • Detailed list of questions to be addressed
  • Details on Methodology to be followed
  • Copies of the data collection tools
  • Proposed budget to carry out study
  • Plan for Data Analysis
5-10 days (upon signing the  contract)
2. Training of Assistants and Pre-testing
  • Field work pre-test of data collection tools completed
  • Copies of the finalized data collection tools
2 – 4 days
3. Fieldwork
  • Collection of quantitative and qualitative data
10 – 13 days
4. Data analysis and draft report submission
  • Quantitative data entry, data cleaning and data analysis performed.
  • Qualitative data fully transcribed and analysed
  • Findings, results and  recommendations presented in a comprehensive report
10 days
5. Final Report and Study Documentation
  • Soft copy of the Report incorporating all stakeholders’ comments, fully formatted, edited and finalised to a professional printable standard;
  • Hard copy of the report
  • All completed data collection instruments
  • The cleaned computer data files.
  • All qualitative data transcripts
2 days
6. Prepare and hold a formal presentation to stakeholders. After completion of study

Interested persons should send the following documents by email to srlrecruitment@unicef.org

(a)     An application letter
(b)     Curriculum Vitae
(c)     A completed UN Form P.11 found on the UNICEF website.

The Personal History Form (P11) in MS Word format can be downloaded from our website at http://www.unicef.org/about/employ/index_53129.html.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 09 June 2014

UNICEF is a smoke-free environment.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization.


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