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Individual Contractor, Accessible Digital Textbooks [ADT], LAC Regional Office, Panama [11.5 months]

Apply now Job no: 555411
Contract type: Consultant
Duty Station: Panama City
Level: Consultancy
Location: Panama
Categories: Education

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, education  

The UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office is based in in Panama, operating in 36 territories, including 24 country offices.

UNICEF works to put the rights and well-being of the most disadvantaged children at the heart of the social, political, and economic agenda, in line with our equity focus, working across our organization and with our partners in government, civil society and the private sector to support shifts in public policy, fuel social engagement, and increase investment for children.

For information of the work of our organization in the LAC Region, please visit our website: UNICEF LAC Region  

How can you make a difference? 

All children can learn and should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential, but most children with disabilities are out of school and lack access to inclusive quality learning. SDG 4 guarantees universal access to inclusive and equitable quality education for all. To make SDG4 real for all children including children with disabilities, quality, inclusive education, accessible and affordable learning materials are required. An accessible digital textbook gives all learners, including those with disabilities, access to information in alternative accessible formats therefore ensuring better access to the learning process and enhanced educational outcomes in an inclusive school setting even in low resource contexts as demonstrated through pilots in Uganda, Kenya, and other countries. Through specific features in digital formats, printed books have been made accessible to learners who are blind or have low vision, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, those who have intellectual or developmental disabilities or learning disabilities, or those who prefer to access information without visual input. By bringing together global and local writers, publishers, teachers, organizations of persons with disabilities (OPD), technology developers, MOE representatives and other stakeholders, the initiative ensures the development of the standards and guidelines needed to produce textbooks and learning materials in accessible digital formats and languages. Though the exact number remains unknown and more recent 

data are not available, an estimated 93 to 150 million children under 18 years of age worldwide have disabilities (WHO, 2011). Children with disabilities remain one of the most marginalized and excluded groups and face multiple barriers and challenges related to accessing education. In Kenya, for example, estimates stress that 80 per cent of children with disabilities are out of school. In Uganda, only 9 per cent of children with disabilities are enrolled in primary school as opposed to 93.2 per cent for those without disabilities.

In addition, lack of access to quality education continues to be one of the largest challenges for children with disabilities. In accessible education facilities, inflexible curricula, the lack of assistive devices, stigma and discrimination, inaccessible learning materials and teachers who are not yet prepared to support diverse learning needs in the classroom can all serve as major barriers to the education of students with disabilities. The lack of these essential components can result in students not enrolling in schools, dropping out or remaining in school but not achieving their full developmental potential.

Accessible digital textbooks can help address the issue of accessible learning materials, which is one of many elements needed to promote an inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. All students learn differently so giving access to digital textbooks using Universal Design for Learning principles can answer that need. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education fails to recognize the various learning styles that benefit different learners, including those with disabilities. As a result, teaching methods tend to address only one or two learning styles, often leaving the other students frustrated, less engaged and less motivated to learn. Providing differentiated learning, and/or providing instruction and materials that meet different learning styles, can help improve learning outcomes. 

The initiative has been world-wide piloted in 6 countries, including 3 in LACR, and UNICEF technically and financially supported them at different levels. Since 2021, the Eleva funds have funded the implementation in 4 countries and have now expanded to 2 more countries for 2022-2024.

LACRO together with the COs’ teams will continue to address the need to eliminate barriers and seek innovative tools for effectively include all types of learners in the education system. We have learned from the experiences undertaken by Paraguay, Uruguay and Nicaragua with this initiative, that ADTs could be powerful and positive tools to engages all learners through different experiences. The regional package of accessible activities will reach 350,000 children in grades 1-2 over the course of 3 years.  While the early stages of the initiative will continue to focus on the learning materials specific to the foundational years of education, including pre-school and the early grades of primary school, the goal is for all learning materials to be made available in accessible digital formats.

For more information about the ADT Initiative in LAC:

https://www.unicef.org/lac/en/regional-initiative-accessible-digital-textbooks-all

Purpose of the Assignment

Under the supervision of the Education Specialist [Inclusion], the selected consultant will provide quality and specific technical control of the accessible digital textbooks developed by the countries involved in the regional ADT initiative, creating a regional repository, and building regional and national capacity. At the and with collaboration with our global research office, Innocenti, the consultancy will contribute to the development of knowledge management products such as case studies and lessons learned to promote the advancement of Accessible Digital Textbooks and other inclusive education initiatives, including the update and maintenance of LACRO UNICEF Education Website with the relevant education resources and databases. The Consultancy will also contribute to the regional strategy in working with external organizations involved in implementation for adequate monitoring and evaluation of interventions of the ADT (MoE, publishers, universities, NGOs Interpreters and DPOs).

The efficiency and efficacy of support provided by the consultant to program/project preparation, planning and implementation, contributes to the achievement of sustainable results to improve learning outcomes and universal access to quality, equitable and inclusive education.

Specific Tasks 

Specifically, the consultant will focus on the following tasks:

  • Undertake quality and technical control of the accessible digital textbooks developed by the six countries in the LAC region piloting the ADT initiative (Jamaica, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, and Dominican Republic).
  • In coordination with the UNICEF Office of Research -Innocenti, support the reporting process of the outcomes of the Accessible Digital Textbooks developed in each of the countries.
  • Create a regional repository with high-quality cataloguing and multipurpose accessibility in all local languages (sign language videos, image with image descriptions, UDL activity templates, tutorials, etc.), including the mapping of current accessible digital content in implementing countries; of publishers active in educational content; and OPDs, experts and teachers, among others, creating accessible content.
  • Prepare the regional reporting to donor, including presenting proposals to other possible donors.

With the guidance of the supervisor, prepare the strategy to work with editorials and private sector to support the availability of accessible digital textbooks in the market.

Expected Results 

  • All accessible digital textbooks reviewed to meet the adequate quality and technical standards and requirements in terms of accessibility.
  • Reporting processes of all accessible digital textbooks supported.
  • Regional repository with high-quality cataloging and multipurpose accessibility (coordinated with Global Project) created.
  • Report to donor.
  • Proposal for possible donors.
  • Strategy to reach out private sector (editorials and software developers).

Deliverables 

Monthly reports, and at the end of the consultancy the contractor will have to deliver a Final Consultancy Report, Regional Repository, Report to Donor, Proposal for Possible Donors and Strategy for Private Sector.

Supervision: The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the Education Specialist [Inclusion] and in close collaboration with the UNICEF Office of Research, Innocenti. 

Workplace:
This is a remote home-based consultancy. 

Duration:
This consultancy is expected to start on 24 October 2022 with an estimated duration of 11.5 months. 

How to Apply: 
Application should be submitted online and should include Resumé, Cover Letter and Financial proposal. Qualified candidates are requested to submit daily, monthly, and total fees in their financial proposal.

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

Education:  Master's degree in Inclusive Education, Disability studies, Occupational therapy, technology and innovation in Education, Public Health or related topics.

Experience: 
- Minimum of 10 years of experience in Disability and Inclusion programmes with strong experience in inclusive education and technology innovations.
- Demonstrated capacity in assessment and reporting skills.
- Programme development experience in UNICEF, or any other UN agency or similar organization is required.
- Demonstrated experience working in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders, including donors, UN agencies, INGOs, civil society organizations, national authorities, and national/local partner agencies is required.
- Experience working in both development and humanitarian contexts is an added advantage.
- Previous experience in the LAC region is an asset.
- Previous experience working accessible education resources is a distinctive asset.
- Experience working with the UN will be an asset, with UNICEF will be a strong asset. 

Languages: Fluency in Spanish and English is required. Knowledge of French or Portuguese will be considered an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate… 

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and the following core competencies: Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness, Works Collaboratively with others, Builds and Maintains Partnerships, Innovates and Embraces Change, Thinks and Acts Strategically, Drive to achieve impactful results, and Manages ambiguity and complexity.

To view our values and competency framework please visit the following links: Our Values and Our 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 offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment. 

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. 

Remarks:  

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. 

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts. 

UNICEF only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/ recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed at https://www.whed.net/home.php

Advertised: Eastern Daylight Time
Deadline: Eastern Daylight Time

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