Consultant- Early Childhood Reading Specialist:-Food for Education Program in Uzbekistan-Remote

Programs Anywhere, United States


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.


Mercy Corps was active in Uzbekistan from 1997-2007 and participated in several sectors, including agriculture productivity, microcredit, nutrition, governance and participatory processes at the local level. In 2020, Mercy Corps is returning to Uzbekistan to implement the five-year McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. 

Purpose / Project Description:

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the McGovern-Dole project will improve literacy and promote healthy dietary practices and nutrition among preschool children and their communities in the Karakalpakstan and Surkhandarya regions. Mercy Corps will work to improve food security and preprimary education among children by providing daily school meals, pre-literacy reading materials, nutrition and hygiene education, and school renovations to 410 preschools. 

Project objectives include: 1) Improved student attendance in preschools through school meals and access to clear water and sanitation; 2) promote reading readiness through age-appropriate pre-primary literacy activities, training and mentoring of preschool teachers, and engaging family support for reading; 3) improved school infrastructure and learning environments; and 4) increased knowledge of nutrition, health, and hygiene practices.

Consultant Objectives:

Launching the program in 2020, Mercy Corps is seeking an experienced literacy specialist targeting children ages 3-7 to develop modules of reading readiness activities for preschool teachers in close collaboration with the Ministry of Preschool Education and other actors working in education sector reform in Uzbekistan.  Working closely with the program’s full-time literacy and early childhood education specialist, the consultant will also review focus group findings among parents of target preschool communities to identify recommendations to improve parental engagement of at-home reading activities with pre-primary children. (S)he will also work closely with the program’s nutrition and health specialist to identify opportunities to integrate literacy/reading promotion activities into nutrition and health activities targeting preschool children and their parents.

Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will:

  • Collaborate with program leadership to develop the project’s overall strategy to improve literacy and reading readiness among preschool aged children in project-supported communities;
  • Conduct inventory of available pre-primary reading materials available in local languages and the market demand for new and diversified reading materials;
  • In coordination with local Literacy Specialist, facilitate discussions and coordinate with MoPSE and development partners;
  • Provide recommendations to the project on best practices related to preschool reading corners and optimal learning environments to encourage reading; 
  • Provide recommendations to social behavior change and communication strategy and messaging to promote literacy and reading readiness 
  • Support stakeholders to improve and expand access to instruction for learners with special needs;
  • Other tasks as needed.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will:

  • Develop/adapt pre-literacy instruction materials for preschool teachers and district-level education offices;
  • Produce a series of at-home reading activities to engage parents in their children’s learning;
  • Develop M&E tools, including capacity assessment, pre- and post-training tests, and observation checklists to evaluate teachers’ use of new module; 
  • Develop/adapt an age and context-appropriate reading readiness assessment for preschool children in final year based on best practices and existing structured reading skills measurement tools;
  • Design and lead training to relevant MoPSE staff who will then train teachers to implement the new module;
  • Provide recommendations on teacher training and mentoring to encourage continuous professional development;

Timeframe / Schedule:  

The expected level of effort (LOE) is 30-35 days between November 2020 – March 2021; once international travel is feasible, this assignment will include 10-14 days LOE in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The Consultant will report to: 

Deputy Chief of Party

The Consultant will work closely with:

Chief of Party, Technical Specialists, M&E Manager

Required Experience & Skills:

  • Experience working on similar donor-funded education programs that support literacy development required (USAID, UNICEF, World Bank, etc.)
  • Master’s degree in early education or a related field;
  • At least eight years of experience related to the development, implementation, management, and/or evaluation of pre-primary or primary education programs in developing country contexts;
  • Ability to design and deliver training in early grade reading, pre-primary education, early childhood education, and/or other related topics, to diverse audiences;
  • Experience and familiarity with best practices in pre-primary education particularly as related to literacy instruction, particularly for under-served or marginalized populations;
  • Experience in early grade teacher training design and delivery;
  • Experience in continuous teacher professional development, including instructional coaching/supervision, preferably in reading;
  • Experience developing early grade reading curriculum and instructional materials;
  • Experience and understanding of post-Soviet education systems in Central Asia highly preferred
  • Excellent writing, editing, and interpersonal and communication skills; able to successfully and effectively liaise with people within and across departments in a multicultural environment. 
  • Fluency in English required; knowledge of Russian a plus.

Mercy Corps Diversity Statement 

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. 

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today. 

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact. 

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.