Thinking of a Career in Emergency Management?
- BY Nicole Pelette
UNICEF's work on early childhood development recognizes that every young child needs nurturing care, good health, optimal nutrition and a stimulating and safe environment that offers plenty of support for early learning. To ensure the best start in life for their children, families need some support. But some vulnerable families, who face additional challenges such as poverty, disability or social exclusion, need more help than others. Typically, support is provided through various services in health, education and child protection sectors and through the interaction of children and parents with ECD service providers but such support is not always sufficient and is particularly impacted by the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
In order to support parents to receive timely and quality guidance even when direct contact with service providers is not possible and to overcome barriers in access to digital solutions, UNICEF initiated the development of a mobile parenting app, the Parent buddy. The cornerstone of the system is a mobile application which was developed with an aim to support responsive, positive parenting. Its aim is to provide information about early childhood development and parental care in a parent-friendly format and to encourage parents to apply guidance and provide nurturing care at home and to apply it in everyday practices. Parent Buddy also supports dissemination of targeted messages and information on how to prevent and protect children from COVID-19. The mobile application can also be used by service providers as a resource in their work with parents and as a tool for building trustworthy relationships and a partnership for the benefit of young children.
Parent Buddy contains wide assortment of articles and videos grouped under thematic categories of Play and Learning, Nutrition and breastfeeding, Responsive parenting, Safety and protection, Health and wellbeing, Parental wellbeing.
The mobile application is using the information on child's date of birth, gender, season of the year and other information entered by a parent to recommend suitable content and tailored guidance.
An important feature of this mobile application is to adequately support the most vulnerable parents, in terms of the navigation modalities, off-line operability and selection of the core content.
The app is developed based on a prototype developed by UNICEF Serbia. In order to deploy the app in Kyrgyzstan, the content needs to be translated and adapted to be aligned with the contextual and cultural specificities and program priorities of Kyrgyzstan in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.
Another digital solution is the Learning Passport, which is supported by UNICEF and delivered through a partnership with Microsoft, Cambridge University, and supported by the Boston Consulting Group. The Learning Passport has been established to 1) provide local, contextualized education content with a supplementary library of global resources, mapped together via research by Cambridge; and 2) provide a platform to provide this content to children and youth online or offline, via a platform being developed by Microsoft and with an individualized record of learning for each user, that is portable across physical and digital borders. The Learning Passport, as an extraordinary emergency response, will create country-level sites available on request in order to make access to curriculum and learning materials available for students with connectivity at home. While the platform has primarily been used to date for older students (primary to adolescence), the platform will be adapted in Europe and Central Asia region to support preschool age children, their caregivers, and their teachers to ensure age appropriate and quality early learning.
The envisioned digital platforms aim to enhance continued engagement with families and parents on learning at home by providing practical resources and materials that can be applied in home settings. Its second aim is to strengthen professional development opportunities and facilitate collaboration between preschool educators and other staff on sharing ideas, best practices and activities that can be implemented in kindergartens. Ultimately, the digital preschool platforms should support building and strengthening of a national community of practice between parents, teachers and children, with shared principles around early learning and development.
UNICEF seeks to contract a national consultant who will support the process of technical development and use of the Parenting App and Learning Passport platforms in Kyrgyzstan in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science.
In consultation and collaboration with the UNICEF ECD Officer, guidance of the Learning Passport Lead Consultant, and in close cooperation with Head of the Ministry of Education IT Department the National Consultant will be required to undertake the following tasks:
Technical assistance for deployment of the Parenting App and Learning Passport:
Support coordination with national stakeholders:
Other duties upon request and upon mutual agreement related to the consultancy objective.
Reporting and supervision