Senior Education Specialist
World Bank (World Bank)
Closed on 12 Aug 2020
Location: San Salvador (El Salvador)
Grade: GG, Mid-level Professional
Occupations: Educations
A Hardship
Apply Now
Added 2 weeks ago
Job Description


Do you want to build a career that is truly worthwhile? Working at the World Bank Group provides a unique opportunity for you to help our clients solve their greatest development challenges. The World Bank Group is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges. For more information, visit


Education is central to achieving the WBG’s twin goals: it is a reliable route out of poverty through large and consistent returns to income for individuals and as a driver for economic growth. It is also a prime vehicle for promoting shared prosperity. The main challenge in the education sector is to achieve “learning for all and learning for life”- that is, to ensure that all children and young people acquire the knowledge and skills they need for their lives and livelihoods. In the past two decades, the developing world has made great advances in education, most notably in enrolling and keeping children in school and in approaching gender equality. Despite these successes in expanding access to education, critical challenges remain: removing persistent educational barriers faced by the poorest people and those living in fragile and conflict-affected states and improving the quality of education so that schooling leads to real learning. In recent years, the WBG, and the broader education development community, have shifted their focus to include learning outcomes. Traditional input-driven programs have shown that they do not always lead to improved learning outcomes, so that the WBG’s education strategy highlights the need for a more comprehensive ‘systems approach’ to education reform, investments, and service delivery. This approach is about increasing accountability and targeting results, as a complement to providing inputs. It also requires strengthening the knowledge base on education, to highlight where systems are achieving results, where they are falling short, and what the most effective solutions are. These efforts are increasingly guided by the need to invest early; invest smartly; and invest for all. Through high-quality analytical work, collection of evidence, and practical know-how in these three areas, the WBG is helping its partner countries accelerate their progress in the education sector.

The Education Global Practice is led by a Global Director, who has overall responsibility for the practice, together with Regional Directors who oversee the human development program in the regions working with ten Practice Managers.


The World Bank Group serves over 30 client countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LCR). Clients range from large sophisticated middle-income clients (MIC) to IDA countries to small Caribbean states to one fragile state. After a decade of sound economic management with solid social progress, Latin America has reached a development crossroads. With slower growth prospects and the threat in the reversal of fortunes for many, the region now faces new challenges, and improving productivity is now increasingly emerging as a key underlying factor to address them. Progress on this front will be critical for higher growth and to ensure that the social gains amassed over the economic boom of the past decade – one that expanded the middle class to more than one third of the entire population and lifted 80 million people out of poverty- are not eroded. Moreover, Latin America’s inequality continues to be high compared to other world regions.

High quality education for all is central in the pursuit of growth and equity. The Education Unit for LCR works with client countries – at the regional, sub-regional, national and sub-national levels – to address key education challenges. To cite some of the key challenges: (a) learning outcomes have tended to improve, but LCR is still facing a Learning Crisis – with a learning poverty of about 50% and on average, 15-year-old students three years behind in reading, mathematics, and science when compared to a student in an OECD country; (b) learning gaps between students from better-off and most disadvantaged backgrounds are very large; (c) enrollment has continued to increase in secondary education but completion remains a regional challenge, especially among the poorest; and (d) the supply of higher education has increased significantly, but relevance and inclusiveness are still important challenges.

To address these challenges and their underlying constraints, the unit’s education strategy centers on four key pillars: (a) investing in Early Childhood Education/Development; (b) measuring and improving teaching and learning; (c) addressing drop-outs and improving the skills of secondary and tertiary-school age youth; and (d) pursuing best practices in governance, management and financing. This also includes the effective use of ICT and learning spaces and a strong focus on inclusion. These pillars are consistent with the global education practice approach and the focus on learning poverty.

To implement its strategy, the unit has a large program comprising analytical and advisory (ASA) services as well as lending operations. It currently has a well-performing portfolio of 18 operations across most countries of the region. The portfolio has increasingly used new lending instruments to support systemic reforms (including IPFs with DLIs, and the two first ever PforR in education in LCR in Brazil and Argentina). The unit has a strong emphasis on bringing the best global evidence to inform its products and services for its clients, and in working strategically with clients to generate knowledge where the knowledge base is still nascent. lt produces innovative and programmatic ASA work, with analytical and just-in-time components, which is highly valued by our MIC clients, while also including a strong program of impact evaluations embedded in client engagements (operations or ASA). The unit also prides itself in its thought leadership through the preparation of rigorous research or regional studies to shed light on policy relevant issues in the region (teachers, school dropout, higher education, school management for example). We also stepped-up opportunities to share our work with the rest of the Bank through the new Tuesday Talks and several BBLs and webinars.

More specifically, the unit has a large program of services to support improvements in the quality, relevance and equity of ECE, basic, secondary and tertiary education. This includes several operational and analytical projects and tasks that seek to support clients in the implementation of programs and policies to improve the quality and management of teachers and school leaders, measure learning outcomes and use of the information from these assessments to improve quality, reduce drop outs particularly at secondary school and provide high quality teaching and curriculums to build the range of foundational, higher level cognitive or technical as well as socioemotional skills that are required for successful and productive citizens, use technological solutions for education and smart learning environments, and strengthen school based and education system management and accountability.

These areas of intervention position the unit very well to support countries to address the COVID-19 crisis, and have already translated in new just-in time advisory support, re-purposed ASAs, projects’ restructurings and new operations, to support comprehensive sector response plans, innovations in multi-modal teaching and learning, and more broadly the coping, managing continuity and building back better phases of the COVID-19 response.

More particularly on Central America, the unit is actively engaged in six of its seven countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica) with a mix of operational and analytical engagements. Operations are supported by IDA, IBRD and/or Global Partnership of Education and other partners’ resources depending on the country. ECE is a strong area of growth with new projects supporting comprehensive ECE reforms just approved in El Salvador and Honduras, which complement an existing project in Nicaragua. Other strong engagement areas include socio-emotional skills, learning outcome assessments, drop-outs, education technology, institutional and management reforms. We are expecting the program to continue growing, with still untapped potential to design and implement programs and reforms to decrease the very high levels of learning poverty, expand access to quality education for vulnerable groups, and support secondary education and skills. There is also tremendous potential to help countries address the COVID-19 crisis through distance and hybrid education and the design and implementation of short and longer-term education sector response plans. Coordination with the CMU, other GPs and UN agencies is also strong, including through a very strong dialogue on human capital development and to address the COVID-19 crisis.

In light of the above, the unit is seeking a Senior Education Specialist/Economist, based in San Salvador, to lead the education policy dialogue, provide implementation support to the education portfolio, and lead and/or contribute to a program of high quality analytical and strategic advisory work on Central America. The Sr. Specialist/Economist will have a critical role in building and managing a high-quality regional team to develop and implement a regional program customized to the Central America context. The selected candidate will report to the Practice Manager for HCLED and is expected to work in close collaboration with the CMU, the other members of the education and HD team, and colleagues in other GPs based in San Salvador.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 4 year term appointment.

Duties and Accountabilities:

The Senior Education Specialist based in San Salvador is expected to:

• Work closely with the Practice Manager, the education team, the CMU and other sectors to identify, develop and support new business areas of engagement across Central American countries, including innovative financial products, technical advisory services and other services, as required. Providing effective guidance on strategies to respond to the COVID-19 crisis on education will be critical.

• Coordinate with the CMU on regional Central American policies, including the preparation of Systematic Country Diagnostics, Country Partnership Frameworks, HD analyses and strategies. Forge strong collaborations with other GPs, with emphasis on joint and/or complementary initiatives with Health and Social Protection, as well as other GPs, as needed.

• Forge strong regional and country level strategic partnerships with other partners and strategic stakeholders to carry the dialogue forward, with an emphasis on the United Nations Agencies, financial institutions, think tanks and NGOs.

• Lead, co-lead or participate in the preparation and supervision of education operations (IPFs, PforRs, DPFs) at various education levels, ensuring hands on technical assistance and providing just in time solutions to external clients.

• Provide and/or coordinate high quality customized analytical and advisory services, including analytical reports, impact evaluations, and just-in time TA, in several areas, including ECE/ECD; teaching and learning processes across education levels; strategies to address drop-outs; education spending efficiency and governance issues; secondary education, skills and TVET; among others. ECE/ECD is in high demand with a growing operational and analytical program. Providing guidance on strategies to effectively respond to the COVID crisis on education will be critical.

• Build and manage a high-quality regional team, composed by Staff, international experts and local support to develop and implement a regional program customized to the central America context, ensuring synergies, continuity and sustainability.

• Mentor and advise more junior staff in operational and analytical roles.

• Serve, as needed, as focal point in critical areas for the unit (and the GP).

Selection Criteria

The ideal candidate will combine excellent client dialogue and team management skills, excellent technical skills and a capacity to translate analytical findings into policy and innovative Bank operations to help clients shift policies in new directions or to pilot new approaches, and strong operational skills to provide effective implementation support for the Bank’s growing portfolio. The candidate should have:

• Advanced degree (Master’s or PhD) in economics, education, business or related fields

• Experience: A minimum of 8 years directly relevant work experience in education; and demonstrated expert-level knowledge of education policy

• Excellent client skills and sustained track record of leading policy dialogue and developing business in middle and lower-income countries

• Proven track-record of leading and/or working well with teams

• Experience working with development partners

• Strong technical skills and knowledge in at least a few of the key education sector areas mentioned above. Ability to translate analytical/technical skills and products into new programs, policies, and operational innovations and results

• Excellent operational skills and understanding of World Bank processes to be able to effectively lead (or advise) teams through all the stages of project preparation and supervision

• Track record of delivering high quality analytical and advisory services

• Track record of delivering high impact operations across education levels based on solid evidence

• Experience in ECE/ECD

• Fluency in Spanish and English

• Excellent communication skills

• Ability to juggle numerous competing demands and priorities, respond quickly to internal and external client requests, and set realistic priorities for self and others

• High levels of energy, initiative, and flexibility. Proactive attitude to challenges and flexibility in quickly adjusting to changing work program requirements


In addition to the above, the successful candidate is expected to demonstrate the following competencies:

Education knowledge and experience: Possesses technical skills, including an understanding of key core education issues with regard to quality, relevance, and equity at all levels. Has familiarity with analytical resources, data sets, indicators, tools for data analysis, and the use of evidence for education policy.

General economic knowledge and analytical skills: Possesses a demonstrated track record of working with economic and sectoral data and analytical and produce user-friendly written outputs.

Policy Dialogue Skills: Possesses political judgment, diplomatic acumen, and negotiating skills; applies cross-country development knowledge to discussions with clients and development partners; anticipates needs and requests in the field and develops/offers relevant tools to clients.

Knowledge and experience in development arena: Understands policy making processes; distills operationally relevant recommendations/lessons for clients; understanding of political economy issues as well as a good grasp of governance issues in a federal setting additional asset.

Integrative skills: Demonstrates strong integrative thinking and ability to support project teams in developing an integrated point of view around development challenges.

Analytical Services and Advisory (ASA) policy, strategic and technical analysis for country/sector Issues: Provides inputs to key ASA documents by analyzing relevant issues, soliciting input from others, and using data and facts to support conclusions and/or position.

Written and verbal communication: Delivers information effectively.

Client orientation: Takes personal responsibility and accountability for timely response to client queries, requests or needs, working to remove obstacles that may impede execution or overall success.

Drive for results: Takes personal ownership and accountability to meet deadlines and achieve agreed-upon results, and has the personal organization skills to do so.

Teamwork (collaboration) and inclusion: Collaborates with other team members and contributes productively to the team's work and output, demonstrating respect for different points of view.

Knowledge, learning, and communication: Actively seeks knowledge needed to complete assignments and shares knowledge with others, communicating and presenting information in a clear and organized manner.

Business judgment and analytical decision making: Analyzes facts and data to support sound, logical decisions regarding own and others' work.

Poverty has no borders, neither does excellence. We succeed because of our differences and we continuously search for qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the globe.

About World Bank

With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.

World Bank's mission is to end extreme poverty by reducing the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030, and to promote shared prosperity by increasing the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of people in every country.