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Baseline assessment for Integrated Early Childhood Development Programme in Vietnam

UNICEF is looking for an institution/company to conduct a Baseline assessment for Integrated Early Childhood Development Programme in Vietnam.

Purpose of the assignment:
Assess the IECD programme’s current situation in a qualitative and quantitative manner, and establish the current operational framework situation for IECD development in Viet Nam and benchmark indicators based on the Programme Theory of Change. The baseline will then inform the scoping paper and form the platform for the summative evaluation of the IECD Programme; and
Formulate a draft Monitoring and Evaluation plan for the IECD Programme.

Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) Programme.
Early childhood, from conception to the first eight years is the period when the brain develops most rapidly and most dependently on both enriching and adverse environments. Early years of childhood form the basis of intelligence, personality, social behavior, and capacity to learn and nurture oneself as an adult. Many children do not reach their full human potential because of their families’ income status, geographic location, ethnicity, disability, religion or sexual orientation. They do not receive adequate nutrition, care and opportunities to learn. These children and their families can be helped. It is their right to develop as well as to survive.
UNICEF globally calls for greater integration and synergy across sectors to support integrated programming for children at different stages of the life cycle. The current UNICEF Strategic Plan recognises specifically the critical importance of the early years on the basis of the latest evidence on the science of brain development: “New scientific research on brain development has brought fresh evidence of the critical importance of early childhood development for future learning achievements, health outcomes and productivity, and the cumulative nature of deficits”. An integrated approach to early childhood development (IECD) is not only a global but a national priority in Viet Nam as set forth in the Law on Children 2016. IECD will help the country to achieve high quality of human capital from early years of human life, a pre-requisite for sustainable development. The newly endorsed Law on Children 2016 introduces a number of improvements as compared to the Law on Protection, Care and Education of Children, 2004. Holistic childhood development is articulated in almost key chapters on specific child rights and state duties. However, holistic early childhood development and rights to early childhood development are not adequately stipulated with legally binding duties and measures for enforcement. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is responsible for coordinating sectoral policies and programmes among concerned ministries and agencies on childhood care and development which implicitly includes holistic early childhood development. However, there is no coherent, comprehensive Early Childhood Development policy, nor an effective coordination mechanism on ECD while it is recognized an on-going policy initiative about the establishment of Viet Nam Committee on Children with political support from the highest level in the Government. Recent economic progress has improved the well-being of millions of Vietnamese children, but not all have benefited equally from such prosperity. There is equity in access to pre-school by gender and ethnicity, but it does not necessarily translate into improved learning outcomes for all children. According to the data published by the General Statistics Office (GSO) and UNICEF in 2014, 96.8 % of children in Grade 1 of primary school attended pre-school the previous year. There was no disparity found between boys and girls, urban/rural or Kinh/Hoa and ethnic minority pupils to access pre-school education. However, fewer children from the Mekong River Delta attended pre-school compared to other regions (10 per cent gap). Furthermore, although equity is apparent in access, there are striking disparities in terms of learning outcomes between Kinh and ethnic minorities. While there are vertical interventions in health, nutrition, reproductive health, and education, little has been done to horizontally integrate services for early childhood development, especially for children from 0 to 3 years old, and particularly at the household level . Even within ministries there is fragmentation between agencies with low incentives for integration. While life cycle is an integral part of the social protection system in Viet Nam, the youngest population – especially under 3’s – do not benefit from the schemes except for the health insurance. Parenting education is supposedly delivered through child-care centres, crèches and kindergarten and also as components within health and nutrition programmes. However, there is little documentation as to the curricula (content), delivery mechanisms (frequency, dosage and intensity) and impact of interventions. Existing parenting materials, especially for children from 0 to 3, mostly focus on health and nutrition, disregarding child development. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding has, after years of stagnation, increased from 17 per cent (in 2010) to 24 per cent (in 2014). However, breastfeeding as a practice is still low and boys are more likely to be exclusively breastfed than girls . Progress has been slowest in reducing malnutrition (stunting), which partly reflects the fact that maternal nutrition remains a problem not addressed adequately in the National Nutrition Strategy. Stunting continues to affect approximately one fourth of the under 5 population (24.6 per cent). The rates are highest in the Central Highlands (34 per cent) and other disadvantaged regions where ethnic minority people live (27.3 per cent in the Central coastal region and 30.3 % in the North West) .
Analysis of the Early Child Development Index (ECDI) of 2014 which is used to determine if children are developmentally on track in four domains: literacy and numeracy, physical, socio-emotional and learning shows disparities. 29.4 per cent children were on track in the literacy-numeracy domain, more in the physical (96.5 %), learning (94.2 %) and social-emotional (91.2 %) domains. However, in each individual domain the higher score was associated with children living in richest households, with children attending an early childhood education programme and older children.
It is well recognized that there are severe short-term and long term effects of violence against children. Most immediately, consequences include physical injury, delayed physical growth, damage to the brain, and cognitive and language deficits, with such consequences often being interrelated. In the short term, there are significant impacts on a child’s development and adjustment as well as relationships with parents, other adults, and peers – problems such as aggression, withdrawal, isolation and even self-harm. Unfortunately, in Viet Nam, violence-discipline is widely practiced by parents with 68.4 per cent of children aged 1-14 years were subjected to at least one form of psychological or physical punishment by household members . This proves that young children even at the age of 1, could suffer from violence-discipline. More specifically children from 5 to 9 years of age were subjected to physical punishment more than the older and younger children . In addition, a small-scale assessment indicated that 12 percent of families are neglecting their children .
IECD Programme
To address the identified issues in early childhood development among children aged 0 to 8, UNICEF Viet Nam’s Country Programme 2017-2021 is designed to, among others, strengthen the enabling legal and policy environment for IECD at the national level and strengthen the local capacities to develop an IECD model to be implemented in selected districts and communes of three provinces: Gia Lai, Kon Tum, and Dien Bien. It is expected that the IECD model will generate further evidence and policy options to scale-up IECD nationally.
At the UNICEF Country Programme (CPD) level, UNICEF and the Government of Viet Nam aim to achieve:
CPD Outcome 3: By 2021 in selected areas of the three provinces, all children and their families, especially the most vulnerable, utilize inclusive and quality IECD services.
CPD Outcome 3 indicators:
• Percentage of children aged 6 to 23 months who receive a minimum acceptable diet.
• Percentage of mothers receiving post-natal care within two days of delivery.
• Proportion of the population having an improved sanitation facility.
• Attendance rate in early childhood education programme.
• Number of communes with functioning IECD services.
CPD Output 1: Enhanced local capacity to develop and operationalise IECD centered, equitable and inclusive high impact child survival and development packages in focus provinces.
CPD Output 2: Strengthened capacity of education service providers in focus provinces to deliver quality early learning and school readiness programmes for children under 4 years.
CPD Output 3: Enhanced local capacity in focus provinces to develop and operationalize local child protection systems and services, including positive parenting, non-violent discipline.
At the project level, UNICEF will implement the Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) programme in collaboration with the Government of Viet Nam to achieve:
National level - MOLISA Project’s Specific Objective: Improved national capacity to legislate, monitor and oversee child rights related laws, policies and programmes.
Indicator relevant to IECD: Availability of a national policy on integrated early childhood development by 2018.
Local level - Through the three Provincial Projects with Gia Lai, Kon Tum, and Dien Bien, 27 communes of 9 districts in the three provinces are to achieve
Provincial Project’s long term objective:

By 2021, all targeted children (0-8 years old) and their family members especially those of the most vulnerable groups in the target communes utilize inclusive and quality IECD services to fulfil children's rights to survival, development, education and protection.

Provincial Project’s Long-term Indicators:
1. Percentage of children aged 0-3 years in project locations received age-appropriate nutrition and early stimulation/learning from parents/child caregivers
2. Percentage of children aged 36-59 months in the project locations who are attending an early childhood education project
3. Percentage of parents/primary caregivers of children aged 0-8 years in project the project locations who practise non-violent discipline and responsive parenting
4. Percentage of children aged 36-59 months in project locations on-track in at least three of four developmental domains (MICS IECD Index: Literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional and learning)
Provincial Project’s Immediate objectives:
1. By 2021, parents, caregivers, and community members in programme communes have the knowledge, skills and supportive norms to access available IECD services and practice behaviours that support healthy IECD
• Percentage of parents and caregivers of children aged 0-8 years who believed that responsive and none violenece parenting is the best for their children.
• Percentage of boys and girls aged 6-8 years who know where to report violent incidents involving themselves and other children.
• Percentage of parents and caregivers of children aged 0-8 years who recognize the benefits of all areas of IECD, and know where to seek help if they need supports.
• Percentage of parents, caregivers of children aged 0-8 years who wanted to participate in IECD parenting/cousellling platforms at grassroots level.
2. Improved capacity of service providers from related sectors in providing IECD services at all platforms
• Percentage of local service providers including health workers teachers and ECE care givers in the project locatons able to perform IYCF counselling and early stimulation exercises.
• Number of child protection workers at commune level who could provide case management in line with national standards.
• Percentage of parents/child caregivers who have positive feedback/comments on IECD services.
3. Accessible minimum IECD services in place with acceptable quality for parents, caregivers and children in targeted areas
• Percentage of ECE centres, including family-based child care groups in project locations which have minimum IECD equipment and early learning/stimulation services for young children.
• Number of commune healthcare centres in the project locations have IYCF counselling, micro-nutrient supplementations services integrated with early stimulation services for young children.
• Number of social work service centres applying national standards established and functioning at provincial and district levels.
• Percentage of communes in the project location covered by m-IECD module (including CP, Nutrition, Education contents) to fast-track progress of respective IECD interventions.
• Proportion of pre-schools/IECD centres with WASH facilities meeting national/JMP standards.
4. An enabling environment created and maintained for implementation of IECD interventions in the province
• Availability of co-ordination committee and mechanism on IECD at provincial, project districts and communes.
• Availability of Provincial IECD Action Plan 2018-2021 with budget allocation for implementation.
• Existence of a monitoring system for tracking the progress of the IECD models implementation.
The IECD programme will be evaluated against the indicators of CPD Outcome 3 and Provincial Project’s long-term objectives through specific evaluation criteria in 2022. To measure the contribution and the extent of attribution of the programme to the CPD Outcome 3 and provincial projects’ long-term objectives, the evaluation will conduct a baseline assessment and a mid-term evaluation. This assignment will also deliver a draft M&E framework which will include an overall evaluation framework covering:
1. The baseline assessment
2. A mid-term evaluation and
3. A summative evaluation.
The evaluation of the IECD programme is expected to gather evidence on the programme performance to measure to what extent it achieves the CPD programme’s and project’s outcomes on IECD, thus measure the extent that the rights to ECD among children in targeted locations, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable children, are fulfilled. The evaluation results are expected to contribute to policy making in the field of early childhood development and delivering equitable results for children in Viet Nam.
The consultant team will be guided and supported by UNICEF local researchers and UNICEF staff during the assignment process.

Attn: Trang Thu Bui, Senior Supply Associate, Supply Unit, UNICEF Vietnam

Organisation UNICEF

Country Viet Nam