Regional Analysis on Cost Implications for Governments to Facilitate Return to School Consultancy

Save the Children | East and Southern Africa Office

Regional analysis on cost implications for governments in East and Southern Africa to facilitate return to school for children post the COVID-19 pandemic

Background: Countries around the world are taking broad public health and social measures, including closure of schools, to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19(1).

COVID-19 has had an immediate impact on education. With schools closed in virtually all of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, children—especially the most vulnerable—are missing out on learning opportunities by being out of school.

If past school closures are any guide, some children won’t come back when schools re-open. Nearly all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have closed schools to slow the spread of the COVID-19. Closures in some places will last through the end of the school year and could continue into the next (2021).

While many countries are turning to distance learning strategies, it is difficult to ensure that these provide equitable learning opportunities for all pupils. At least a third of the world’s schoolchildren – 463 million children globally – were unable to access remote learning when COVID-19 shuttered their schools(2).

Children who contract COVID-19 appear to have less severe symptoms and lower mortality rates than other age groups. But in a myriad other way, the COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating effect on children, with potentially far-reaching and long-term negative impacts.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has indicated that more than 127 million school children in eastern and southern Africa have remained at home due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Without urgent action, the combination of a global pandemic and the economic depression threatens the wholesale reversal of progress achieved under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)(3), including SDG 4 on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The World Bank’s topical Facing Forward report(4) highlights substantial differences in the maturity of education systems across Africa. It classifies countries into four categories based on their system-level development over the last 25 years – established, emerged, emerging, and delayed. Many established and emerged systems are better prepared to deploy fast-track information communication technology (ICT) interventions.

Access to distance learning is high in established systems, including Kenya and South Africa, and disproportionately low in francophone countries, many of which have emerging or delayed systems.

The pandemic provides an opportunity to accelerate progress in delayed and emerging education systems, yet this requires solutions to align closely with system needs, capacity, and local preferences.

Efforts to ensure equity and mitigate learning loss will be particularly important in delayed and emerging systems to keep those at the bottom of the learning pyramid from being left further behind. As systems work toward reopening, learning loss will need to be addressed through solutions including simplified and accelerated curriculums, additional support to teachers and the broader education workforce, and the maintenance / massive increment of education budgets.

The crisis also affects household expenditure on education. Many households are experiencing falls in their income as a result of the economic and health policy responses to the coronavirus crisis – often sharp falls. Remittances, an important source of household support and education spending in some delayed and emerging countries, are also projected to decline sharply, further stretching household budgets.

School systems run on money. It’s impossible to provide access to schooling without financial resources, and despite occasional claims to the contrary, the best evidence suggests that the quality of education is also responsive to financial resources. Lower middle-income countries and low-income countries seem especially vulnerable to external shocks due to their heavy reliance on external, volatile sources of finance coupled with declines in public revenues due to falls in demand for commodity exports; sharp falls in remittances; and swift, significant capital outflows as investors flee to safe havens.

In the wake of the Ebola crisis of 2014–2015, donors stepped up to help fill the gaps in education. But unlike previous health crises, COVID-19 directly affects the economies not only of low-income countries, but countries all over the world.

In fact, the biggest income losses are expected in the richest countries—i.e. the donor countries. The global financial crisis is therefore probably a better predictor of what is to come. Governments will have to make hard decisions and adjust their spending in the midst of the crisis.

Faced with urgent short-term needs, it will be tempting to let education spending—a long-term investment in human capital—stagnate. Trade-offs between sectors and within the education sector will need to be made, and governments may have to choose between some of their most ambitious education initiatives—from offering free universal secondary education to expanding pre-school services.

Donors and governments can keep the value of education at the center of policy discussions so that essential investments in the education sector don’t fall by the wayside. The way to do this will vary by country but will likely include a combination of finding savings within domestic spending and by mobilizing additional international financing for education—or fighting the improbable battle of raising domestic tax collection in the midst of an economic downturn.

Purpose/objectives/rationale for the evaluation

The objective of this ToR is to carry out a regional analysis on the cost implications for governments and households in East and Southern Africa to facilitate safe and affordable return to school for boys and girls post the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study will be centered around the following research questions:

  • What strategies ensured equitable provision of remote learning and return to school for all children during the covid19 pandemic?
  • What are the cost implications of providing equitable remote learning and return to school for children during Covid19 health pandemic?

Scope of work

  1. Mapping of countries of focus in East and Southern Africa region jointly with Save the Children.
  2. Secondary data analysis; on the implications of COVID-19 on education for boys and girls in the identified target countries.
  3. Undertake an assessment of strategies and attendant costs by governments for ensuring equitable provision of remote learning and return to school for all children during the covid19 pandemic
  4. An analysis to estimate cost of education to facilitate children to return safely to school based on information derived from sources of finance; and disaggregated by type, level and nature of cost;
  5. Review findings and propose salient recommendations for policy influencing; policy decision-making;

Duration of the Consultancy: Save the Children envisages the consultancy taking 25 working days from the time the contract is signed. The consultant should develop a feasible work plan covering the maximum 25 days and submit as an integral part of the proposal for this consultancy. The successful bidder must commit to accomplish and deliver the consultancy services and deliverables before or on 27th November 2020.

Expected Profile of the Consultant

For this consultancy, Save the Children is expecting to contract a lead consultant dedicated to achieving the key deliverables.

The consultant should have the following qualifications and experience:

  • Post graduate degree in education, economics or any social science;
  • At least 10 years’ experience working on Child Rights and Child Protection, experience working on economic justice and in humanitarian and emergency contexts in East and Southern Africa will be an added advantage;
  • Demonstrated experience in carrying out research projects and fiscal policy analysis;
  • Good understanding of the politico-economic contexts of countries within East and Southern Africa;
  • Good interpersonal skills and understanding different perspectives;
  • Strong analytical and report writing skills;
  • Demonstrable capacity to deliver high quality outputs within a proposed timeframe;
  • Knowledge of donor systems, structures and ways of working an added advantage.

Submitting expressions of interest (maximum 5 pages)

Interested individuals must submit a technical and financial proposal of a maximum of five (5) pages including:

  • A cover letter introducing the consultant and how the skills and competencies above are met, with concrete examples as appropriate.
  • An expression of interest including proposed methodology, time schedule and work plan for carrying out the consultancy.
  • A CV detailing relevant skills and experience, including 3 contactable referees.
  • Proven record of experience in child rights, child protection and economic justice.
  • Reasonable budget breakdown and cost consideration commensurate to expected deliverables.

Applications should be submitted to: Save the Children East and Southern Africa Regional Office by 30th September 2020

How to Apply

CLICK HERE to apply online

Closing Date: 29th October 2020

  • (1)Viner, R. M. et al. School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 4, 397–404 (2020).
  • (2)United Nations Children’s Fund, “Covid-19: Are children able to continue learning during school closures? A global analysis of the potential reach of remote learning policies using data from 100 countries.” UNICEF, New York, 2020.
  • (3)Dulieu, N. and Burgess, M. (2020), The Hidden Impact of COVID-19 on Child Rights. London, Save the Children International, 9.
  • (4)Bashir, Sajitha; Lockheed, Marlaine; Ninan, Elizabeth; Tan, Jee-Peng. 2018. Facing Forward: Schooling for Learning in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

Economics and Statistics, Education and Training, NGO and UN
Updated: October 17, 2020 — 3:14 am