Vacant Positions

Background

The Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence brings together civil society and faith-based organizations, religious communities, multilateral organizations, academia and individual experts to foster collaboration to share good practices and develop evidence-based and innovative approaches to end violence in early childhood and foster children’s well-being.

The consortium is a platform where experts working on early childhood development, child protection, education and peace building, representing faith based organizations, civil society, international organizations, religious communities and academia, come together to share ideas and expertise, and build on each other’s experiences to improve the quality of early childhood well-being.  

The consortium focuses on children’s ethical and spiritual development through advocacy, research, the creation of tools, and replicable practices in religious communities that support parents, caregivers and the community as a whole in creating safe, healthy and loving environments that affirm children’s human dignity.  The consortium develops evidence-based materials to support holistic approaches to early childhood development that consider the external and structural factors that affect child upbringing.  

By drawing on the deepest teaching of our spiritual traditions and the latest research on child development, the Consortium provides space for dialogue and creation of convergences to mobilize religious communities to play a more active role in creating a better world for children.  

Across the world, religious communities play a critical role in supporting, morally, spiritually and practically, families and caregivers in child upbringing. Their focus on the ethical aspects of child upbringing, including non-violent, positive parenting approaches and promoting age-appropriate development, with special focus on social-emotional, value-based, spiritual development of children, can make a crucial contribution to creating peaceful and harmonious families and communities. This helps to break the vicious cycle whereby violence is transmitted between generations. The holistic development should also encompass “whole family” approach, where focus is also preventing violent, abusive, exploitative relationships between the adult family members, negatively affecting on caregivers’ ability to promote child holistic development, and shaping the negative image of relationships that predict the future ability to build healthy, non-violent relationships with the environment (peers, family members, etc.)       

Nurturing values and spirituality in early childhood acts as a protective factor preventing and mitigating violence against children at family and community levels, hence promoting the development of the whole child, that includes their spiritual development. The approach supports the development of children’s identities, strengthens their capacity to relate to others, learn non-violent alternatives; and it helps creating safe and empowering environments that reinforce the nurturing care that parents and caregivers should provide to children. 

The Consortium’s focus on the spiritual and moral development of children and their agency from early years, is grounded on a child rights approach as stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development (Article 27). The recognition of children as right holders and as individuals with agency, entitled to participate and to express their views (Article 14) is a fundamental component of early childhood development.

The Consortium launched in July 2018, is convened by Arigatou International which is an international NGO committed to building a better world for children. An initiator and sustainer of partnership-based initiatives to secure child rights and foster children's well-being, Arigatou International seeks to maximize the potential of interfaith cooperation, and always strives to empower and involve children and youth.

In 2019, the Consortium conducted five roundtable discussions to contribute to ending violence in early childhood in Sri LankaIndiaLebanonKenya and Brazil in  close collaboration with members of the Consortium, reaching out to more than 600 participants.  The roundtable discussions brought together religious actors and early childhood and child protection experts, as well as others working for the well-being of children, to challenge social and cultural norms that condone violence in early childhood and support nurturing values and spirituality in child upbringing.

Five Advocacy Booklets were developed as a result of the roundtable discussions to support the follow up and create concrete actions at the local level.  See booklets: Sri LankaIndiaLebanonKenya and Brazil.  Translations to Arabic, Sinhalese, Tamil and Portuguese are being finalized. 

Learn more about the Consortium and its members, by clicking here.

The Toolkit

The Consortium aims to develop a toolkit on the spiritual development of children in the early years that fosters their well-being and helps prevent violence in child upbringing.  The toolkit is aimed for organizations working with religious communities but should also be flexible enough to be used by others interested in the spiritual development of young children.  The purpose of the toolkit is to develop capacity and capabilities of organizations, and groups such as faith leaders, key actors, and community representatives that work with parents and caregivers, teachers and children. 

The Toolkit will include a framework that highlights the elements that support the spiritual development of young children, with consideration of different age groups; guidelines on how organizations can integrate the spiritual development in the early years in their existing and new holistic development interventions, strengthening understanding of impact of violence on young children through research and empirical evidence; good practices from organizations, case studies and resources, as well as monitoring and evaluation guidelines.  The Toolkit will be complemented with Advocacy messages that will be provided by the Consortium Working Group on Advocacy. 

Technical Team

The consultant will be supported by a Technical Team (TT) composed by members of the Consortium, including representatives of: Arigatou International, Catholic Relief Services, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Pastoral da Crianca, World Vision International and UNICEF.  The TT will provide guidance to the development of the toolkit, serve as a focal point for the consultant, and ensure that the Toolkit responds to the needs and realities of the Consortium organizations and people they serve. 

The TT will meet in June 2020 to define the framework and approach of the Toolkit based on the ongoing work of the Consortium and its members, including the outputs of the Roundtable Discussions on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood conducted in 2019, and the research findings, as well as discussions and recommendations from the Annual meeting held in December 2019.  It is expected that the Consultant joins the meeting to kick off the work. 

The TT will also provide access to resources, case studies and materials collected from member organizations and through research in several countries, and will conduct a needs assessment with religious communities that can serve as basis to develop a toolkit that can respond to the diverse contexts and realities.  The TT will also support field testing pilots of the first draft of the toolkit with religious leaders and actors to inform the finalization of the toolkit. 

Scope and key guiding principles 

The Toolkit Development Consultant is responsible for the drafting and developing of the toolkit, following the outline and draft framework provided by the Technical Team.  The drafting and development includes providing inputs to finalize the framework, development of a Trainers/Facilitators Guide, examples and activities, preparing case studies and selecting/vetting resources and good practices, particularly from religious communities. The Consultant will be supported by the TT which will provide access to resources from the member organizations, guidance and inputs throughout the consultancy.  

The final toolkit is expected to provide detailed guidelines for religious actors to support child holistic development, with focus on the spiritual development of young children by influencing and working together with: parents and caregivers, educators and children themselves. It should provide examples of how to plan, integrate and develop interventions in their communities and in collaboration with other stakeholders, including other religious communities, civil society organizations, UN agencies and governments. 

The guiding principles of the Toolkit are:

  • Early childhood considers the period up to 8 years old;
  • Provide an innovative, practical and compelling model to ensure that the spiritual development of children is integrated in Early Childhood Development interventions;
  • Foster the holistic development of young children, including their spiritual development;
  • Age-specific, to meet growing child needs 
  • Support the prevention of violence in child upbringing through safeguarding measures that can be taken by parents, caregivers, communities (faith, non-faith);
  • Promote inter-sector and inter-faith collaborations and interaction with secular organizations and people;
  • Bridge the scientific language on child development with religious language and understanding of child-upbringing;
  • Integrate a child-rights approach and the voices of children;
  • Provide concrete recommendations, actions and examples of implementation with a context, religious and culturally-sensitive language and approach;
  • Provide guidance for parents and caregivers that equips them to nurture the holistic development of their children. 

Methodology

The Consultant, supported by the TT, is responsible to gather, produce and put together the content of the toolkit. The following materials are the basis of the work of the Consultant:

  • Draft Framework on the Integration of Spiritual Development in Early Childhood prepared by the TT
  • Reports and booklets from Roundtable Discussions on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood
  • Research findings and analysis of four country mappings conducted by the Consortium to identify practices that integrate spirituality in early childhood interventions 
  • Review of existing toolkits that address similar topics. 
  • Theory of Change of the Consortium

Other materials are resources shared by Consortium members and international frameworks such as INSPIRE – Seven Strategies to End Violence against Children and the WHO Nurturing Care Framework. 

The Consultant is expected to consult the members of the TT as needed and reach out to Consortium members as appropriate. The Consultant will present the draft toolkit to the TT and support the planning of pilot processes.  

Timeframe - to be slightly adjusted upon discussion with Consultant

  • Participation in Planning meeting together with Technical Team to be held in New York from 2 - 4 June 2020
  • Presentation of Draft Toolkit to the TT by 9 August 2020
  • Incorporate inputs from TT by 6 September 2020
  • Provision of guidelines for piloting and form for reporting of recommendations to the first draft toolkit by 15 August 2020
  • Pilots are conducted in September/October 2020 by TT members and inputs are provided to the Consultant
  • Incorporate inputs in final Toolkit by 31 October 2020.

It is expected that the Toolkit will be presented to the Consortium members during their Annual meeting in Nov 2020.  

Reporting

The Consultant reports directly to the Director of Arigatou International Geneva, Convener of the Consortium. 

Specific Responsibilities

  • Facilitate, provide inputs and prepare report of meeting of Technical Team for the development of Framework on Spiritual Development in Early Childhood
  • Develop content of Toolkit, including Facilitators Guidelines, based on the Consortium’s framework and reference materials;
  • Prepare case studies, examples and activities based on contextual realities and emerging issues affecting young children and families;
  • Select and vet good practices from those provided by TT;
  • Prepare guidelines for piloting the draft toolkit and form to collect recommendations and inputs;
  • Incorporate inputs and recommendations from TT and pilot workshops.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Expertise in Early Childhood Development and advanced knowledge of holistic approaches and the integrated nature of Early Childhood Development, with proven track record of work quality;
  • Knowledge and experience working on issues related to child protection and prevention of violence against children, particularly in the early years;
  • Prior experience carrying on a similar design and execution projects and tool kits.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with interfaith programs. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge of one or more of the following concepts and issues: ethics, children’s spirituality, interfaith dialogue and collaboration, child rights, education for pluralism, values-based education; 
  • Extensive knowledge of the literature, resources and networks on both quality early childhood development and holistic development of children, with special focus on children’s identity formation, values and moral formation and spirituality;
  • Understanding of global frameworks, including INSPIRE – Seven Strategies to End Violence against Children and WHO Nurturing Care Framework;
  • Experience working with religious communities and faith-based organizations and sensitivity to religious work;
  • Extensive experience and knowledge of various ECD programs around the world.
  • Fluency in English with strong oral and writing and conceptual skills.
  • Ability to read in other languages is desirable, for instance Arabic, French, Spanish, or Portuguese; 
  • Good interpersonal skills and cultural sensitivity: the ability to work in a multicultural environment and successfully interact with people from different cultural and religious backgrounds;
  • Experience in leading groups and facilitation skills.   
  • Flexible work attitude: the ability to work under pressure and short timelines; the ability to follow direction and work independently.
  • ECD M&E and research expertise 

Timeframe: The consultancy covers 40 days from 15 May to 15 November 2020.  

Location: Home based consultancy. 

Applications including CV and motivation letter, as well as consultancy fee, should be submitted to genevavacancies(at)arigatouinternational.org by 15 April 2020.