HED has launched a new RFA application tool as part of its redesigned web presence. Because the RFA for Tunisia JOBS was announced before the online tool was introduced, the "Apply Now" feature is not available for this RFA.
Applicants should follow the original submission criteria as specified in Sections IV and VII below.
UPDATED: February 2, 2012
Request for Applications
Tunisia: Job Opportunities for Business Scale-up (JOBS) 2011
Date Issued: November 10, 2011
Award Amount: $500,000
Higher Education for Development (HED) anticipates making two (2) awards of up to $500,000 each for three-year higher education partnerships. The first award will be for a partnership with the Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques de Sidi Bouzid (ISET Sidi Bouzid). The second award will be for a partnership with the Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques de Médenine (ISET Médenine) and the Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques de Tataouine (Tataouine). The two partnerships will focus on improving higher education and workforce development programs at these Tunisian institutions to produce a workforce with the relevant skills to support the country development goals.
Read a Statement from the Director General of International Cooperation at the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education.
Higher Education for Development (HED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Higher Education for Development (HED) mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access expertise within the higher education community. HED operates with the advice and counsel of six higher education presidential associations: the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
HED receives funding from USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade, Office of Education (EGAT/ED), USAID’s functional and Regional Bureaus and worldwide Missions, and the U.S. Department of State to support higher education partnerships to advance global development, economic growth, good governance, and healthy societies. These partnerships provide training, applied research, academic program development, program evaluation, policy analysis, and program implementation, which are critical to furthering the U.S. government’s (USG) foreign assistance goals. Funding for this activity is provided by USAID/EGAT/ED and the U.S. Department of State.
For more information on USAID and its role in economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide over the past 50 years, please visit www.usaid.gov.
Tunisia Job Opportunities for Business Scale-Up
The Tunisia Job Opportunities for Business Scale-Up (JOBS) stems from a USAID worldwide initiative to promote post-secondary skills training. The overarching goals of USAID’s JOBS initiative are to support institutions of higher education to:
empower youth to form businesses and/or create jobs that provide opportunities for better livelihoods;
upgrade mid-to-late adolescent and adult workforce skills; and,
establish and/or improve business/entrepreneurial curricula in higher education institutions (post-secondary).
USAID’s JOBS goals are more likely to be accomplished if these partnerships extend to include collaborations with local governments, public and private-sector organizations, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to determine workforce needs and provide appropriate on-the-job training.
Relationship to USAID Strategy
USAID’s Education Strategy is premised on the development hypothesis that education is both foundational to human development and critically linked to broad-based economic growth. The 2011-2015 Education Strategy outlines three goals with which all education development projects funded by USAID must align. Projects that HED manages, including Tunisia JOBS, contribute to Goal 2 of this strategy – improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to generate workforce skills relevant to a country’s development goals.
Tunisia JOBS will contribute directly to this goal by strengthening the capacity of the Tunisian partner institutions to offer continuing education and prepare graduates who can contribute to the economic development of their communities.
II. Tunisia: National Context
Labor statistics for June 2011 state that there are 700,000 unemployed workers in Tunisia. 150,000 of the unemployed are holders of tertiary education degrees and credentials. The graduating class of 2011 added as many as 40,000 new unemployed to this pool.
The Tunisian government provides 60% of the jobs in the country (health care, police, education), and the Tunisian private sector roughly 40%. With a growth rate of 1% expected in 2011, the government targets the creation of only 15,000 jobs in the public sector. There is great need for the private sector to assist the nation in creating jobs.
Please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website for a “Background Note” on Tunisia.
Technical Training in Tunisia
In Tunisia, Instituts Supérieurs des Études Technologiques (ISETs) provide undergraduate academic degrees in a two-year, three-year or five-year cycle, and there is mobility between the “academic” (three-year) track and the “ISET” (two-year) track. After two years of study and the receipt of an ISET degree, approximately 10 percent of ISET graduates enter the academic track for three more years so that they have both a technical ISET degree and an undergraduate engineering degree. There are 30,000 students in this track on an annual basis, and approximately 5,000 – 6,000 of these students graduate each year with a rate of employment estimated at 85%. Students in both tracks are required to complete an internship every year. In fact, a major activity for ISET administration is the identification of internship placements.
The ISET system is a part of the higher education system under the Ministry of Education, and there is one ISET in each “gouvernant” or province. In order to more closely meet the needs of business, ISETs are authorized to create one or more “license co-construit” degree programs that are developed in collaboration with local employers to meet the needs of the local job market.
A significant challenge facing ISETs that are located outside of Tunisia’s major cities is that there has not been enough local development to create jobs, particularly in the interior away from the coast. This lack of employment has led to a migration of talent into Tunis, the coastal cities, and abroad to Europe and the Gulf States.
III. Partnership Goals and Objectives
The goal of the Tunisia JOBS partnerships is to strengthen to capacity of the ISET partners to offer continuing education and to prepare graduates who can contribute to the economic development of their communities.
To achieve this goal, two higher education partnerships will be created through a “design and build” process that focuses on achieving the following objectives.
- Objective 1–To enhance the capacity of ISET faculty to offer relevant advanced academic and technical training and programs
- Objective 2–To modernize entrepreneurial curricula and enhance applied research at the ISET(s)
- Objective 3–To increase ISET engagement with the community and private sector
Once the HED competition is completed and a lead U.S. partner has been named, the partnerships will begin a strategic planning and design phase of up to six months. Applicants should plan for initial meetings in Tunisia to launch the strategic planning and design phase within 3 weeks of the HED Award. Within the first three months of this planning phase, partners will conduct an institutional and community needs assessment and finalize a Results Framework (RF) for the partnership that reflects partnership objectives and expected outcomes and outputs and which includes a Partnership Implementation Plan (PIP) and a Performance Management Plan (PMP). Upon completion of these activities, Tunisian and U.S. partners will conduct a baseline assessment and commence activities no later than 6 months into the HED Award. HED will provide consultation and assistance throughout this process. Sustainability planning, which will require successful community awareness and public/private sector financial support in the acquisition of equipment and resources, also will be a major focus of this initial strategic planning process.
ISET Sidi Bouzid was founded in August 2004. Students follow a three-year curriculum leading to an Applied Bachelor degree in one of four specialties: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Process Engineering (related to the food industry), and Computer engineering. Read a profile of the institution.
ISET Sidi Bouzid has identified the sustainable development of food industry products and management as a key focus of this partnership which will result in the increased capacity of its graduates to contribute to the economic development of the Sidi Bouzid gouvernant.
To achieve this goal, the partners will collaborate on identified activities and outputs under the objectives listed above that will include but are not limited to the following outcomes:
- ISET Sidi Bouzid demonstrates increased capacity to develop and deliver entrepreneurial courses, feasibility studies and pilot projects in the fields of Power Saving and Renewable Energy as well as small agricultural business development.
- ISET Sidi Bouzid becomes recognized as a knowledge center and a resource for innovation in optimizing land use and the development of entrepreneurs to advance small and medium sized agricultural business in the gouvernant.
- Local community members and key stakeholders show increased awareness of technologies for sustainable land use, renewable energy and the technical assistance that ISET Sidi Bouzid can provide in these areas.
Over the next three years, it is expected that ISET Sidi Bouzid and the U.S. partner institution(s) identified through this competition will produce a series of outputs encompassing but not limited to the three outcomes listed above using a participatory “design and build” approach to partnership planning and implementation. ISET/Sidi Bouzid has identified the following potential outputs of the partnership as being of particular interest to the institution:
- Develop entrepreneurial courses and experiential learning opportunities related to optimizing the use of land and biological cultures and optimizing storage circuits, drying, and transformation techniques.
- Develop entrepreneurial courses, feasibility studies, and pilot projects in the fields of Power Saving and Renewable Energy
- Design a relevant advanced academic program that provides students with applied research opportunities directly related to undergraduate specialties, which in turn contribute to economic development of the local community (for example, rationalization of water use).
- Develop a sustainable system and capacity for engagement with the private sector in the gouvernant and communities. This could include establishment of an advisory body, interactive website development, engagement of professionals from the private sector to coach students’ research and internships and/or review curricula, and support for small farmers in the community to develop small agricultural business.
- Strengthen ISET faculty skills and knowledge to direct, produce, and apply research on local community workforce needs and opportunities for micro and small business development.
- Strengthen the capacity of faculty to prepare students to launch and operate their own business and/or measurably enhance existing micro- and small-sized enterprises by creating internships and other experiential learning opportunities.
Located in southern Tunisia, ISET Médenine and ISET Tataouine were founded in 2005. Students at these ISETs follow a three-year course of study leading to an Applied Bachelor’s degree in one of three specialties: Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Business Administration. With the region currently hosting over 70 oil exploration companies that are encountering enormous challenges with hiring qualified maintenance technicians, the ISETs also train technicians in the responsible exploitation of useful substances and materials that are abundant in the gouvernant of Tataouine. Read profiles for both ISETs.
These two ISETs have identified, as a key focus of their partnership, the increased capacity of their institutions to support micro and small enterprise development and train senior technicians in fields relevant to the private sector such as electronics, offshore oil industry, and industrial maintenance, which will result in continuing education programs and increased capacity of its graduates to contribute to the economic development of the Médenine and Tataouine regions. The two ISETs expect to work closely together on a common set of activities and objectives with the selected U.S. partner institution(s).
To achieve this goal, the partners will collaborate on identified activities and outputs under the objectives listed above that will include but are not limited to the following outcomes:
- ISET Médenine and ISET Tataouine demonstrate enhanced capacity to train senior technicians in fields relevant to the private sector such as electronics, offshore oil industry and maintenance.
- ISET Médenine and ISET Tataouine are recognized as knowledge centers and resources in the region for vocational and technical training in emerging technologies and micro and small enterprise development to promote more advanced and relevant manufacturing skills and employment opportunities.
- Local community members and key stakeholders show increased awareness of the training and research resources that ISET Médenine and ISET Tataouine can provide.
Over the next three years, it is expected that ISET Médenine, ISET Tataouine, and the U.S. partner institution(s) identified through this competition will produce a series of outputs encompassing but not limited to the three outcomes listed above using a participatory “design and build” approach to partnership planning and implementation. The ISETs have identified the following potential outputs of the partnership as being of particular interest to their institutions:
- Develop applied research in the field of renewable energies (mainly solar, wind and tidal power).
- Deliver advanced training for senior technicians in fields relevant to the private sector such as electronics, the oil industry, and industrial maintenance.
- Develop and demonstrate technological innovations that integrate technology and classroom practice to meet the needs of the productive sectors in society.
- Develop a sustainable engagement with communities and the private sector in the gouvernant, including such activities as creating links with the private sector for internships and extension programs and conducting joint experiments on pilot installations for green power production and/or other strategic energy sector projects.
- Develop community technological resource centers in the field of new information and communication technologies that will serve as knowledge centers in the Médenine and Tataouine provinces.
- Develop capacity-building activities that will provide ISET institution faculty with knowledge, skills, and entrepreneurial training resulting in their improved ability to teach students and advise local citizens in critical components of micro and small enterprise development.
- Establish the administrative and policy framework to enable the ISET partners to link to Tunisian government incentive programs such as technology parks, tax zones, and incubator programs.
IV. Application Content
Applications are due February 15, 2012.
Each application is expected to include the following:
A) Partnership Approach
The application should reflect an understanding of the current state of technical and vocational education at the ISET(s) designated in the RFA (ISET Sidi Bouzid and ISETs Médenine/Tataouine), community needs, and U.S. government priorities for Tunisia. The partnership approach section should describe how the applicant will work closely with the designated Tunisian partner(s) to achieve the goal and objectives of the JOBS Tunisia program. It should also include information about the anticipated impact of proposed activities and a description of the U.S. institution’s strategic interest in this partnership, as well as the strategic interest of potential public and private sector partners.
The partnership approach being proposed must take into account strategies to ensure the equitable participation of, and benefits to, underserved groups and women. The application should discuss how the applicant and Tunisian partners will work together on the initial community and institutional needs assessment to ensure a results-driven framework for the partnership. Each application also should describe anticipated outputs of proposed partnership activities and explain how these outputs would contribute to the partnership’s objectives and expected outcomes.
Applications should also demonstrate the potential for program sustainability by describing a plan for sustainability that identifies potential investment partners that will continue to support partnership goals and objectives beyond June 30, 2015. Applicants should be aware that partners will be expected to fully develop the sustainability plan during the planning and implementation stages of the partnership, identifying additional public and private sector partners, including U.S., Tunisian, and other multi-lateral/global organizations whose expertise and resources will be important to the achievement of the partnership’s long-term capacity building goals.
The partnership approach should identify factors outside of the institution that will help or hinder partnership implementation and describe plans to mitigate these factors when appropriate.
B) Partnership Commitment and Management
Applications should propose a partnership management and operational strategy. Shared leadership and collaborative engagement of partners are viewed as critical elements of success. HED is seeking evidence of an effective program management approach, including the commitment of institutional resources to support the achievement of partnership goal and objectives. To that end, applicants should discuss the ability of their institution(s) to collaborate across departments and units and with the Tunisian partner institution(s) to ensure effective administration of the Award. HED recommends that key personnel have French and/or Arabic language competence. However, in the event that proposed key personnel do not have French or Arabic competence, the application should describe a strategy for seamless operations in the foreign language environment.
Applicants should note that HED anticipates that a Results Framework (RF), a Partnership Implementation Plan (PIP), and a Partnership Management Plan (PMP) will be created and agreed upon with the Tunisian partner institution(s), in consultation with HED. The RF, PIP, and PMP, which are not required to be submitted with the application, will be completed and finalized within the first three months of the HED Award period, following the initial institutional and community assessment. Templates for the RF, PIP, and PMP are included for informational purposes under Section VII, Application Format section of this RFA. Once these templates are completed, partners will validate the design by conducting a baseline study. This baseline study will, in turn, inform the partnership’s final performance targets. All partnership activities funded through the HED Award must be completed by June 30, 2015.
C) Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy
Applications should clearly communicate how the partners will collect and analyze performance data through a systematic process of monitoring the achievements of program activities. Applications should outline anticipated procedures and timetables for collecting qualitative and quantitative information and describe plans for baseline assessment and the use of baseline data to refine partnership strategy and finalize targets. In addition, applications should describe how the proposed partnership management will ensure a process of critical reflection, led by the Tunisian partners, that enables the partnership to utilize data and information collected through monitoring and evaluation for critical decision making and course correction. The application narrative section on monitoring and evaluation also should describe how the monitoring and evaluation strategy will increase the capacity of the Tunisian partners to utilize M&E data and processes to strengthen institutional management.
Applicants should plan to allocate adequate resources to monitoring and evaluation including external evaluation.
D) Expertise of Key Personnel
Applicants should demonstrate their commitment to effectively manage the partnership and fulfill financial and programmatic compliance requirements. Applications should identify and describe credentials and experience of key personnel responsible for:
- technical leadership including subject/regional expertise,
- administrative management including monitoring and evaluation, and
- financial management of the HED Award.
E) Cost-Effective Budget (appendix)
Applications should include a cost-effective budget and budget narrative that supports the proposed partnership approach. The proposed budget should reflect strong Tunisian partner participation, equitable expenditures, and no less than a 15 percent cost-share of the total award amount, including contributions from U.S. and Tunisian institutions of higher education as well as their respective private and public partners.
The budget also should allocate adequate funding support for the strategic planning and design phase, including an institutional and community assessment; the implementation phase; monitoring and assessment activities; and an external evaluation. The budget being proposed for the partnership will be considered illustrative, as it may change based on the outcome of the institutional and community assessment.
The HED-provided budget form (see Required Documents, above) must be completed and appended to the application. It includes space for a detailed description of expenditures. Verifiable details for funds should be included. A budget narrative should also be prepared and appended to the completed budget template document. Applicants are encouraged to refer to these documents for guidance about creating a partnership budget and budget narrative:
- General Budget Guidelines
- Sample Award Budget
- Sample Budget Narrative
- Checklist for Partnership Proposal Budgets
HED is available to answer questions you might have about the budget template, including questions about customizing the template format. Please refer such questions to Adriana Lacerda at email@example.com.
V. Contact Information
Applicants with questions related to this RFA may contact HED Senior Program Specialist Marilyn Crane at mcrane@HEDProgram.org.
Applicants wishing to learn more about workforce development issues in Tunisia may contact Mr. Faouzi Chaouch, Public Diplomacy Specialist at the United States Embassy in Tunis. His contact information:
Mr. Faouzi Chaouch
Public Diplomacy Specialist
Embassy of the United States of America
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis, Tunisia
+216 71 107 199 phone
The designated contact for ISET/Sidi Bouzid is Mr. Amor Smati. His contact information:
Amor Smati – Dean
Route du Campus Sportif
9100 Sidi Bouzid Tunisia
+216 76 624 800 phone
+216 76 632 842 fax
The designated contact for ISET/Tataouine is Mr. Saïd Maouloud Dhifallah. His contact information:
Saïd Maouloud Dhifallah – Director
BP 44 Cité Mahrajène
3234 Tataouine – Tunisia
+216 75 844 231 phone
+216 75 844 526 fax
The designated contact for ISET/Médenine is Mr. Dhaou Hamdi. His contact information:
Dhaou Hamdi – Dean
BP 140, Route de Béni Khédech Km 2
4100 Médenine – Tunisia
+216 75 632 032 231 phone
+216 75 632 839 fax
HED will only consider applications from regionally accredited, degree granting, U.S. higher education institutions (two- and four-year colleges and universities). Given that ISETs are technical training institutions, participation and leadership by community colleges is encouraged. U.S. colleges and universities may apply individually or in partnership with other institutions. Consortia applications are welcomed. HED encourages applications from or with the participation of minority-serving institutions.
In an effort to work with and strengthen local tertiary institutions, the HED program will engage U.S. institutions of post-secondary education (including universities, colleges, and community colleges) as core development partners in each of the activities funded under the program. Funding will be obligated through the U.S. institution to the cooperating institutions and stakeholders in the target countries in a fair, transparent, and open manner through program investments that will both develop and leverage the capacity of the local institutions to meet the human and institutional capacity needs of their country.
Applicants' budgets should demonstrate that award funds will be managed by the applicant and designated Tunisian partner institution(s). HED cannot accept sealed applications. HED can only negotiate an award agreement with the lead U.S. higher education institution named in the application.
VII. Application Submission Process
A. Application Format
Please provide the contents of the application in the following order:
- Title Page. Please complete the HED form in full and obtain signatures of authorized officials. UPDATE (2012.02.01): It is not required at this time to complete the Tunisian partnership director information section.
- Table of Contents
- Abstract: The abstract should not exceed three typed, double-spaced pages with 12-point font and one-inch margins. The abstract should contain a summary of the narrative and budget.
- Narrative: The narrative should not exceed 20 typed, double-spaced pages with 12-point font and one-inch margins and should addresses the review criteria listed in the Application Review section. Narratives should be structured to address the review criteria under these headings:
•Partnership Commitment and Management
•Expertise of Key Personnel
•Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy
- Appendices: Only complete applications with all requested appendices will be considered. Additional attachments beyond the appendices listed below will not be considered in the review process. Appendices should include:
- Budget Form and Budget Narrative. See Section IV. E) Cost-Effective Budget.
- Résumés. Clearly identify the key personnel who are essential to the successful implementation and completion of the partnership. Your application must include the résumés of the proposed U.S. institution personnel. Résumés are not to exceed two, one-sided pages per person. UPDATED 2012.02.01: Applicants are not required to include the résumés of the proposed Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques (ISET) institution personnel.
- Signed letters of support from the presidents, chancellors, or other chief executive officers of the cooperating institution(s) in the United States.
- UPDATED 2012.02.01: Signed letters of acknowledgement from appropriate leaders of the Tunisian partner institution(s). The ISET Point of Contact listed for each institution should receive an Executive Summary from each applying U.S. institution. These points of contact will review and approve an executive summary by signing the letter of acknowledgement and support, then forward the signed letter to the applying institution. These points of contacts may be found in Section V, Contact Information and by downloading the required form, Signed Letters of Acknowledgement and Support.
- Signed letters of support from key collaborating partnersif pertinent to the application. This may include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector partners.
- Signed letter from appropriate official at applicant institution verifying that all costs cited conform to established institutional policies and practices.
- A copy of the U.S. institution's Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA).
- The following key M&E documents, which are not required to be submitted with the application, will be created and finalized by the U.S. and Tunisian partner institutions in consultation with HED after the institutional and community needs assessment for each partnership has been completed. While these documents are not required for the application, they are included with the RFA so that applicants may become familiar with them.
B. How to Submit an Application
Applications must be received at HED by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), February 15, 2012.
Applicants should submit the original application plus seven (7) hard copies of the complete application package containing title page, table of contents, abstract, narrative, and appendices (all on loose-leaf paper, clipped together — no three-ring binders, staples, or plastic bindings), and a flash drive/thumb/USB drive or CD (with files saved as Microsoft Word/Excel for PC) containing the entire application, including all budget forms, budget narrative, and other appendices.
Faxed or electronically transmitted applications will not be accepted. All elements of the application must be received by the deadline. HED recognizes that original, signed cover letters and letters of support from overseas partners may be subject to delays due to factors beyond the applicant’s control. Only in these exceptional cases, faxed or scanned copies of the application title page and letters that include all necessary signatures may be submitted in the application, provided signed originals are received at HED within seven (7) calendar days of the deadline.
Applications should be sent to:
Higher Education for Development
1 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 420
Washington, DC 20036-1110
Once an application has been received, there will be no contact with the HED program office until the completion of the peer review process to ensure fairness to all parties concerned.
VIII. Application Review Guidelines
Peer reviewers will use the following criteria to evaluate the applications. Reviewers will score each section using the guidance for total points and the questions provided.
A. Partnership Approach -- 30 points
- Does the applicant demonstrate in its proposed approach an understanding of the current context for technical and vocational instruction at the Tunisian partner institution(s)?
- Is the approach described in the application relevant to the community and feasible to achieving the institutional capacity building partnership objectives and expected outcomes as listed in the RFA?
- Is there evidence of joint collaboration between the applicant and local institutions in the development of the application?
- Does the application describe a compelling and strategic interest on the part of the U.S. institution?
- Does the narrative include a sustainability plan that identifies multiple investment partners that will continue partnership goals and objectives beyond June 30, 2015?
- Does the application outline a process for creating a capacity building, results-driven framework in collaboration with the Tunisian partners?
- Does the approach reflect sensitivity to the inclusion of underserved groups and gender concerns and include feasible strategies to ensure the equitable participation of, and benefits to, underserved groups and women?
- Does the partnership adequately identify factors outside of the institution that may affect implementation and plans to mitigate the negative factors?
B. Partnership Commitment and Management -- 25 points
- Does the U.S. applicant demonstrate the potential for shared leadership and capacity building with the Tunisian partner institution(s)?
- Does the application provide evidence of an effective program management approach?
- Does the application clearly articulate the role of each implementing partner?
- Does the application identify the specific expertise of the U.S. and Tunisian partner institution(s) and their public and private sector partners and how the expertise will be utilized in the partnership?
- Does the application illustrate that the lead U.S. partner institution is capable of providing sufficient infrastructure support to manage the partnership effectively (financial management, program management and compliance, logistical support, visa compliance, etc)?
- Does the application indicate that the lead U.S. institution and key personnel will be able to operate seamlessly in a French/Arabic foreign language environment?
C. Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy -- 20 points
- Does the application articulate a clear strategy for results based management and use of M&E data to guide program implementation?
- Is the approach to monitoring and evaluation feasible?
- Does the proposed M&E strategy include valid and reliable methodology for collecting monitoring and evaluation data, including baseline data?
- Is the role of an external evaluator(s) in the design and implementation phases clearly articulated?
D. Expertise of Key Personnel -- 10 points
- Do the individuals responsible for managing the partnership (Key Personnel responsible for technical leadership and administrative and financial management of the HED Award) have appropriate professional credentials and relevant expertise?
E. Cost-Effective Budget -- 15 points
- Does the approach demonstrate cost-effectiveness, including a budget that reflects no less than 15 percent cost share?
- Are allocation levels in the application budget reflective of a priority of resources going to the Tunisian partner institution(s)?
- Does the proposed HED Award budget and cost sharing include adequate funding for strategic planning and design phase activities, including an institutional and community needs assessment, ongoing monitoring and assessment activities, and external evaluation?
Total: 100 points
X. Terms of the Solicitation
A. Cost Share
The minimum suggested total cost share from all U.S. partners is 15 percent of the award amount. Reported cost share must be auditable. Non-auditable contributions may not be used to meet the minimum, but can be indicated separately and attached to the budget detail form. Applicants should itemize all cost sharing and in-kind contributions. Read more on cost-share guidelines.
Cash and in-kind contributions will be accepted as part of the applicant’s cost sharing when such contributions are: (a) verifiable from the applicant’s records; (b) not included as contributions for any other federally-assisted program; (c) reasonable for the accomplishment of partnership objectives; and (d) not paid by the federal government under another grant.
In-kind contributions may include, but are not limited to: waivers of tuition and fees for students participating in academic exchanges; donation of library and classroom materials to the partner; ICT infrastructure and Internet Service Provider subscription subsidy for the partner and exchange students; faculty salaries; travel and/or per diem for faculty and administrators to participate in professional exchange and development programs; and indirect costs.
Awards will be executed as sub-agreements between the designated U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium, and the American Council on Education (ACE), through the Higher Education for Development (HED) office, under USAID Cooperative Agreement AEG-A-00-05-00007-00. The institution recommended for award will receive a draft version of the sub-agreements to review. The award recipient will be expected to submit a marking plan related to USAID branding as part of the sub-agreement that clearly indicates the support provided by USAID for activities conducted under the award.
Please note that no award or cost share funds may be expended prior to a fully executed (i.e., signed by both parties) sub-agreement between ACE and the designated U.S. institution unless pre-award expenses have been approved as a part of the negotiation of the sub-award. Activities are expected to commence immediately after the sub-agreement is executed.
Award funds will be disbursed to the designated U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium, based on the applicant’s implementation of the work plan, stated budget, and submission to HED of financial, tax, and narrative progress reports. It is the designated U.S. institution’s responsibility to provide disbursements (reimbursements) for its collaborating partner(s) in accordance with the agreed-upon activity schedule and budget.
Partnership directors, and/or their designees, are required to participate in two post-award briefings. The first briefing, conducted in a virtual format, will review reporting, monitoring and evaluation requirements. The second briefing via a conference call will address general requirements of the award.
To comply with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of State, and USAID regulations regarding tracking and monitoring of Exchange Visitors, foreign nationals whose costs are paid, fully or partially, directly or indirectly using USAID program funds for training, non-training, and invitational travel, must enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa (non-immigrant Exchange Visitor visa) processed under one of USAID’s two program numbers, unless otherwise waived according to the procedure in ADS 252.3. J-2 visa applications for family members are not supported per USAID policy.
USAID expects that all DS-2019 documents (paperwork needed for J visas) and in-country or third country training be processed through the USAID Training, Results and Information Network (TraiNet) system. For more information about TraiNet, go to http://trainethelp.usaid.gov.
Institutions may not directly access the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to issue DS-2019 documents internally. Information regarding USAID’s J-1 visa requirements may be found online at the Participant Training website. Administrators must adhere to the regulations detailed under TraiNet, Visa Compliance System (VCS), the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and USAID’s Automated Directives System (ADS) 252-Visa Compliance for Exchange Visitors, and 253-Training for Development. U.S. institutions should allow a minimum of four months for the processing of visas when planning activities in the United States.
TraiNet management requires a significant commitment of staff time and applicants are encouraged to consider this when developing the program budget.
The U.S. institution is responsible for enrolling each participant traveling to the United States or a third country in the institution’s Health and Accident Coverage (HAC) insurance program or in other coverage that meets the following requirements:
(1) Coverage must be at a minimum $50,000 per illness or accident;
(2) Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
(3) Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000; and
(4) A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
Any company selected must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A–” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of “A–” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify. Please refer to 22 CFR § 62.14(a) for the full description of the applicable insurance requirements.
The cost of HAC for participants must be included in the budget. More information on the USAID HAC program is available online.
- Financial expenditure reports (both grants and cost share) are due at least quarterly with recorded expenditures for the following periods: Jan. 1-March 31, April 1-June 30, July 1-Sept. 30, and Oct. 1-Dec. 31.
- Progress reports for the following reporting periods are due semi-annually: April 1-September 30 and Oct. 1-March 31.
- Financial reports and semi-annual progress reports are due within one-month after the corresponding reporting period closes: Jan. 31, April 30, July 31; and fifteen days after the close of the fourth quarter: Oct. 15.
- Quarterly financial accrual reports are to be submitted within 10 days of the last month of each quarter: Dec. 10, March 10, June 10, and Sept.10.
- Annual implementation plans and annual budget projections are to be submitted by April 30 of each year.
- A foreign tax report covering the Oct. 1-Sept. 30 period is due every Dec. 31.
- A final narrative report, which includes an assessment of program impact, is due 30 days after the conclusion of program activities.
- Final financial expenditure reports (both grant and cost share) are due no later than 30 days after the sub-agreement closing date.
XI. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
FAQs 1-21 were posted December 17, 2011; FAQs 22-36 were posted January 26, 2012.
Question: I was wondering if the initiative would also include training of educators. If so, in which areas are potential partners requested to participate?
Answer: The first objective of Tunisia: Job Opportunities for Business Scale-Up (JOBS) is to enhance the capacity of Institut Supérieur des Etudes Technologiques (ISET) faculty to offer relevant advanced academic and technical training and programs, which would include the training of educators at these institutions. Potential areas of interest for training have been identified in the RFA under the goal and objectives and expected outcomes for each partnership as well as in the institutional profiles linked to each partnership description.
Q-2: My colleagues and I, in discussing this project, believe that the training materials would be most efficient if produced in three languages. Would that be acceptable to the granting agency?
A-2: Producing materials in multiple languages would be acceptable as long as the application adequately explains the need and also demonstrates cost-effectiveness in terms of its impact on the budget. It is important to note that the language of instruction at the ISETs is French. Arabic proficiency is not a requirement.
Q-3: We would like to include in our project design Tunisian experts from the private sector with our U.S. team of key personnel. We have worked with Tunisian partners for more than 20 years, and we have an excellent pool of capable Tunisian colleagues. Would this be acceptable within the budgetary and other guidelines of this RFA?
A-3: Including Tunisian experts from the private sector would be acceptable within the scope of this RFA. Please note, however, that the proposed approach should focus on capacity building at the Tunisian higher education institution(s) through higher education partnerships. Using grant funding to pay for the participation of Tunisian private sector experts may be less attractive to peer reviewers if this participation detracts from building the capacity of the ISET partners and/or lessens the institutional nature of the partnership(s) being proposed. It has been suggested that an effective engagement with private sector might be to work through the business incubators located in the vicinity of the ISETs. Interaction between the ISETs and incubators, or the Technopark in the case of Médenine, would be a great asset to the partnerships.
Q-4: Would it be acceptable to merge some of the training sessions (i.e. hold joint sessions, in one place) for both ISET faculty and students, alternatively in Médenine and in Tatouine?
A-4: Yes. These two ISETs expect to work closely together on a common set of activities and objectives with the selected U.S. partner institution(s).
Q-5: Our university has a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Gabes. This university covers the southeast region, including colleges in the provinces of Médenine and Tataouine, with some university colleges located in those towns. Although the ISET network has an autonomous administration (in Rades-Tunis), it would be beneficial to invite a few faculty colleagues from the University of Gabes schools, with relevant expertise, to participate in conducting the capacity-building activities at the stakeholder ISETs, in tandem with U.S. key personnel. Is this acceptable?
A-5: The inclusion of higher education partners other than those listed in the RFA is not encouraged in the application phase, but might be considered in the implementation phase if requested by the Tunisian partner(s). It is important to note that many of the faculty at the Médenine and Tatouine ISETs also teach at the National Engineering School of University of Gabes (ENIG).
Q-6: What are the industry/sector preferences for job training? Will a multidisciplinary approach to training be acceptable/considered?
A-6: Please refer to the ISET institutional profiles.
Q-7: What role will gender (of locals) play in program planning, recruitment, placement, etc.?
A-7: Applications are expected to propose an approach that reflects sensitivity to the inclusion of underserved groups and gender concerns and include feasible strategies to ensure the equitable participation of, and benefits to, underserved groups and women.
Q-8: In Outcome 2 under III b of the RFA, "...recognized as knowledge centers and resources...in emerging technologies...to promote more advanced and relevant manufacturing skills and employment opportunities." Can you please clarify what is meant by emerging technologies?
A-8: ISET Tataouine and ISET Médenine have identified, as a key focus of their partnership, the increased capacity of their institutions to support micro and small enterprise development and train senior technicians in fields relevant to the private sector such as electronics, offshore oil industry, and industrial maintenance. Emerging technologies should be relevant to this goal and to the fields described in the illustrative outcomes and expected outputs listed in the RFA.
Q-9: One of the outputs also in III b of the RFA lists "Develop and demonstrate technological innovations that integrate technology and classroom practice to meet the needs of the productive sectors of society." Can you please clarify what is meant by "integrate technology and classroom practice"? Do you mean educating about, for example, oil-exploration technologies in the classroom, or do you mean more the implementation of educational technologies in the classroom?
A-9: Developing and demonstrating technological innovations that integrate technology and classroom practice to meet the needs of the productive sectors in society refers to both the implementation of educational technologies in the classroom and the development and demonstration of new technological innovations. ISET schools usually include relatively well equipped laboratories but current teaching methods and techniques do not make full use of the equipment at hand. The intent is to integrate new technologies and classroom practice so that the training being provided is able to meet private sector needs.
Q-10: Would it be possible for a U.S. community college to partner with a polytechnic in Bahrain (with the U.S. community college as the lead) to put an application together?
A-10: Please refer to the Eligibility Section of the RFA. Funding will be obligated through the U.S. institution to the cooperating institution(s) and stakeholders in the target countries in a fair, transparent, and open manner through program investments that will both develop and leverage the capacity of the local institutions to meet the human and institutional capacity needs of their country. Submitting an application with a third country partner, such as a polytechnic in Bahrain, would be allowable, though any program investments/activities should be focused on developing and leveraging the capacity of the local Tunisian institution(s) and should not include a focus on developing the capacity of the third country partner.
Q-11: Can the higher education lead institution utilize/partner with organizations from the private sector?
A-11: Yes, private sector organizations can be secondary partners but the application must be completed by the lead U.S. higher education institution and the Tunisian ISET partner. HED asks for the applicants to describe plans of sustainability by identifying potential investment partners that will continue to support partnership goals and objectives beyond the partnership funding. If partners are able to do this earlier, it would strengthen the application.
Q-12: I noticed that the RFA mentioned knowledge of Arabic and/or French. What level of these languages is necessary for the project? Will a translator be sufficient?
A-12: When establishing institutional partnerships, it is necessary to have the capacity to communicate regularly and frequently. It would be useful for applicants to identify personnel within their institution(s) who have French fluency or a working knowledge of the language since French is the language of instruction at the ISETs.
Q-13: Would the training be based on business knowledge necessary to create future entrepreneurs or technology necessary for innovation for renewable energy?
A-13: Each ISET is different, and it would be beneficial for the applicant to review the profiles of the Tunisian ISETs linked to the RFA in proposing an approach. Both ISETs have expressed interest in increasing business knowledge to create future entrepreneurs and developing technology geared towards innovation. It is important to note that each ISET is a part of a larger academic compound that also includes a projects incubator, a business incubator, and sometimes even a technological park, or Technopole, all geared to help students start their own businesses.
Q-14: Is it acceptable to include training sessions in the United States of, say, two weeks at a time for groups of ISET faculty?
A-14: Conducting training sessions in the United States would be dependent on the goals and objectives of the program proposed by the applicant. The implementation plan and approach should take into consideration the challenges of obtaining visas in a timely fashion and of trainees being able to spend sufficient amount of time in the United States to gain an in-depth learning and mentoring experience.
Q-15: I understand that the partnership is of a purely technical aspect, should it, or can it include; (a) an English-language training aspect (b) a cross-curricular program, say between mathematics and a business school, since simulation projects are popular in the financial world and excel is an excellent tool for training at the basic university level.
A-15: Applicants should propose and justify activities that meet the objectives of the RFA. The HED peer review committee will look for evidence that proposed activities are adequately supported by the proposed budget and determine whether there is adequate rationale for the activities as a part of a holistic plan. The ISETs consider cross-curricular or interdisciplinary programs to be important. It will be important for applicants to consult the appropriate ISET partner regarding proposed activities. Applicants should exhibit a collaborative partnership approach to program planning.
Q-16: Will the training of faculty be in Tunisia only? Or is there a possibility of inviting some faculty to the United States?
A-16: Yes, it would be possible to invite some faculty to the United States for professional development. Applicants should be mindful of the administrative visa requirements regarding these trips. Applicants should also make sure their institution has the infrastructure, the time and the resources in the proposed budget and/or cost share to provide for these activities.
Q-17: Could business schools participate?
A-17: Any accredited U.S. higher education institution can submit an application. HED requests that applicants be mindful that the partner institutions in Tunisia are technical training institutions. A parallelism of partners could provide for greater success.
Q-18: Do I need to be collaborating and creating a partnership with the institution while developing the proposal?
A-18: We suggest that interested applicants communication with the partner institution(s). Initially this communication should happen through Faouzi Chaouch at the U.S. embassy in Tunisia (contact information can be found in the RFA).
Q-19: Are the ISETs public or private educational institutions?
A-19: Instituts Supérieurs des Etudes Technologiques (ISETs) are public educational institutions. The ISET system is a part of the higher education system under the Ministry of Education.
Q-20: Are there future plans for cooperation with other institutions in Tunisia in the area of industrial maintenance and instrumentation? This cooperation will have fruitful impact on the regions of Sidi Bouzid, Médenine, and Tataouine.
A-20: There are no plans in place to create partnerships with other higher education institutions in Tunisia in this area.
Q-21: How do you measure deliverables of this cooperation with the ISETs of Sidi Bouzid, Tataouine, and Médenine?
A-21: Once the HED Tunisia JOBS RFA competition is completed and a lead U.S. partner has been named, the partnerships will begin a strategic planning and design phase of up to six months. Applicants should plan for initial meetings in Tunisia to launch the strategic planning and design phase within three weeks of the HED award. Within the first three months of this planning phase, partners will conduct an institutional and community needs assessment and finalize a Results Framework (RF) for the partnership that reflects partnership objectives and expected outcomes and outputs (deliverables) and which includes a Partnership Implementation Plan (PIP) and a Performance Management Plan (PMP).
The PMP will provide a framework that will guide measurement of achievements made through project interventions and facilitate informed management decisions to ensure planned results are realized. In addition to custom indicators specifically identified for each partnership, the higher education partnerships also will track a set of standard indicators of human and institutional capacity development and development impact. The standard indicators are derived from Goal 2 of the new USAID Education Strategy and intend to track and measure progress towards achieving corresponding results in higher education.
The following key M&E documents, which are not required to be submitted with the application, are included with the RFA so that applicants may become familiar with how they will be expected to measure deliverables under the Results Framework.
- M&E Supplemental Guide
- Monitoring and Evaluation Worksheets, which include the following:
- Results Framework
- Performance Management Plan
- Partnership Implementation Plan
Q-22: The RFA states that funding will come through a subagreement between the Higher Education for Development and the lead U.S. institution. Is there any other legal documentation to define the relationship between the chosen lead U.S. institution and the ISET partner?
A-22: After the HED award is concluded with the U.S. lead institution, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ISET(s) partner and the lead U.S. institution, signed by both institutions, will be required. This MoU will be legally binding and will provide a legal framework for the partnership collaboration. The lead U.S. institution and the ISET(s) also should give strong consideration to the negotiation of a formal sub-subagreement.
Q-23: Can we involve some of the other ISETs within the ISET network in partnership activities in order to broaden impact?
A-23: Yes, it is recommended to have other ISETs benefit from the program. Involvement should focus on inviting faculties to attend workshops and/or training sessions, sharing best practices between specific departments concerned by the partnership, and expanding research outputs.
Q-24: Is equipment an allowable expense? If so, how much of the budget can be allocated toward the purchase of equipment?
A-24: Yes, equipment is an allowable expense. No more than 10-15 percent of the award budget should be allocated to equipment purchases, and these purchases must be directly relevant to ISET instruction and classroom needs. HED encourages U.S. higher education institutions with existing links to local businesses to contribute the donation of such equipment to the ISETs when feasible.
Q-25: Objective 2 focuses on modernizing entrepreneurial curricula and enhancing applied research at the ISET(s). How essential is the applied research component of this objective?
A-25: The Tunisian government has placed a priority on the development of applied research capacity at ISETs, and all ISETs are enabled by the government to conduct research. Applied research should be closely aligned with the needs and interests of the local community and the private sector within the respective region of the ISET(s). Applied research should work towards enhancing local industries in order to promote competitiveness and job creation within the region.
Q-26: Can we use part of the money to create small grants to support business/university collaboration?
A-26: Using small grants to support business/university collaboration might be acceptable within the scope of this RFA depending on how these small grants are used. Any such activity should directly support the objectives and expected outcomes, as expressed in the RFA, as well as ISET expectations of the proposed partnership.
Q-27: If activities were to include the training of educators, in which areas are potential partners requested to participate?
A-27: Potential areas of interest for training have been identified in the RFA under the goal and objectives and expected outcomes for each partnership as well as in the institutional profiles linked to each partnership description.
- ISET Sidi Bouzid: Training is required in the following topics:
- Quality management in food industry and dairy products;
- Identification of local employment needs and setting up of a scientific and technological transfer program between the ISET and local industries;
- Optimizing the use of soil and biological cultures;
- Optimizing storage, drying and transformation techniques and circuits; and
- Developing small productions specialized in the transformation and conservation of farming and forest steppe products (for example, natural and medicinal oils, etc.).
- ISET Tataouine, which is geographically located in the south, hopes to offer training for teachers in the following topics:
- Renewable energies (solar, wind, and water energy);
- Maintenance of oil exploration equipment and maritime equipment;
- Useful substances industry (marble, granite, clay and silica); and
- Information and communications technology, electronics and embarked systems.
- ISET Médenine shares many of the same needs as ISET Tataouine and hopes to offer training for teachers in the following areas:
- Electronics and embedded systems,
- New techniques for industrial maintenance, and
- Maintenance of maritime equipment and heavy machinery.
Q-28: Would it be acceptable to hold joint sessions, in one place, for ISET faculty and students from both institutions?
A-28: Yes, Médenine is located 50 km from Tataouine, so these institutions expect to work together, particularly since they share similar economic and social environments.
Q-29: What are the industry/sector preferences for job training?
A-29: Preferences are as follows:
- ISET Sidi Bouzid: Mechanical construction (welding and metal frameworks); industrial maintenance focusing on irrigation systems in hermetic greenhouses; industrial electricity (water pumps, farm equipment); automation and industrial computing systems; and quality control in food industry, multimedia and web development.
- ISET Tataouine: Mechanical engineering with a focus on mechanical maintenance; computer science, including development of information systems (software engineering); and business administration with a focus on two specialties: Accounting and Financial Management and Production Management.
- ISET Médenine: Materials industries, such as clay, brick, cement, marble, etc. Also, food, oil, and other industries.
Q-30: What is meant by "knowledge centers and resources... to promote more advanced and relevant manufacturing skills and employment opportunities?"
A-30: The "technology resource center" at the ISET is a support structure for industrial firms. It enables the development of research and development between the ISET and businesses (test, production of prototypes, applied research, etc.). Each ISET is comprised of a teaching department, business incubator, and technology resource center.
Q-31: Can you please clarify what is meant by integrate technology and classroom practice?
A-31: Developing and demonstrating technological innovations that integrate technology and classroom practice to meet the needs of the productive sectors in society refers to both the implementation of educational technologies in the classroom and the development and demonstration of new technological innovations. ISET schools usually include relatively well equipped laboratories but current teaching methods and techniques do not make full use of the equipment at hand. The intent is to integrate new technologies and classroom practice so that the training being provided is able to meet private sector needs. One particular area of interest is the development of e-learning at the ISETs.
Q-32: I noticed that the RFA mentioned knowledge of Arabic and/or French. What level of these languages is necessary for the project? Will a translator be sufficient?
A-32: The language of instruction is French, but some teachers understand English and can communicate in English. All students speak French and Arabic. English also is taught to all students, and students should be proficient enough in English to hold basic conversations. When establishing institutional partnerships, it is necessary to have the capacity to communicate regularly and frequently. It would be useful for applicants to identify personnel within their institution(s) who have French fluency or a working knowledge of the language since French is the language of instruction at the ISETs.
Q-33: In what areas in applied research are each ISET interested?
A-33: Each ISET is different, and it would be beneficial for the applicant to review the profiles of the Tunisian ISETs linked to the RFA in proposing an approach. ISET Sidi Bouzid: Quality management in food industry with focus on dairy products; biological cultures. ISET Tataouine: Maintenance and operation of oil rig equipment, and renewable energy ISET Médenine: Developing applied research in renewable energy. There are opportunities for large operations in the south-east.
Q-34: Do I understand that you are encouraging these partnerships to cooperate with the technological parks in Tunisia and other institutions that might be helpful?
A-34: Yes, the technological parks and similar institutions are meant to be used as a tool to help bridge the gap between academia and the needs of industry.
Q-35: Are there any roles for a college of business to participate?
A-35: In regards to the three ISETs listed in the RFA, a college of business might not be the most suitable towards the overarching scope of the RFA. In the event of a follow-on phase involving other ISETs within the ISET network that have concentrations in business management and economics, participation of a college of business would be possible.
Q-36: Can you explain to us whether ISET students have internship programs and, if so, how are they usually managed by the universities? Could you please provide examples of joint applied projects with private sectors (their extent and deliverables)?
A-36: Within the three year ISET curriculum, all students must undergo three internships, one per year. Internships last about five to six months. The third internship is called the "Senior Project" and has to be carried out within a company relevant to the student's academic track. Throughout the internship, students are monitored by two advisors, an academic advisor from the ISET and an advisor from the private sector company. For the Senior Project, all students have to create a process, improve a process, or make a diagnosis of a process and then present their research at the end of the internship. Many students end up with their own research and patents by the end of their internships, but most are not able to continue their research due to lack of funding. There have been successful internships in drip irrigation and mechanical engineering. For example, there was a student from Sidi Bouzid who interned with the Tunisian National Potable Water Company (TNPWC) who designed a software application that is now being used by the TNPWC.
Online Information Sessions
Follow-up Session: Tunisia JOBS
January 18, 2012
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Eastern
HED hosted a follow-up information session with representatives from the three ISETs, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to discuss this RFA. View streaming WebEx video
Online Information Session: Tunisia
December 06, 2011
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Eastern
HED organized an information session on December 6, 2011. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions section of the RFA announcement for more details.