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Research Specialist (Education) #117150 - P3 - 2-year fixed term, Global Office of Research & Foresight (GORaF), Florence, Italy
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
P3 Mid-level Professional Full-time Internationallly Recruited
Job Expired 10 Mar 2024
Posted 1 month ago
Job Description

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, Education 

Organizational Context:  

UNICEF Innocenti undertakes and commissions research on emerging or current issues of relevance for children and child rights. The office links research and global trends analyses to influence policies, programming, and advocacy, as well as innovations, and to drive future strategies and vision of the organization and the child rights agenda more broadly amongst governments, private sector, and other institutions.

• UNICEF Innocenti uses foresight to set the agenda for children uncovering emerging trends and deepening understanding of key issues facing girls and boys and serving as a go-to office for advising UNICEF and a diversity of actors, including governments, the United Nations, private sector, civil society and children and young people themselves in the face of the continually changing global economy, political and security environment.

• UNICEF Innocenti also strives to lead global discourse by creating an enabling environment and platform for children and young people along with global influencers and decision-makers to transform their contributions into future strategies, policies and actions of UNICEF and the world. Thereby positioning children and UNICEF at the centre of the global conversation through prominent external engagement, communication, and influence.

Purpose for the job:

UNICEF Innocenti has a dedicated research team focused on producing high-quality evidence to inform and improve education programmes and systems. Since 2018, the team has been leading and supporting education research in over 40 countries around the world. As part of the research portfolio for UNICEF Innocenti there is a strong focus on foundational learning, early childhood education and inclusive education.


Under the guidance and general supervision of the Education Manager (Level 4), the Research Specialist - Education will support the co-creation and delivery of research of education programmes. The Education Specialist will be responsible for managing research built into education programmes which include early childhood education and inclusive education programmes. The Specialist will provide technical guidance to country offices, regional offices, and headquarters based on research in education in support of UNICEF education priorities, and the priorities of UNICEF Innocenti

Key functions, accountabilities and related duties/tasks:

1. Research planning and coordination
2. Oversight of Research Designs, Methods, and Analysis
3. Technical Guidance and Capacity Building
4. Resource Mobilization, Knowledge Exchange and Partnerships

1. Research planning and coordination
 Plan, coordinate and implement research with Government counterparts, implementing partners and other research’s potential beneficiaries.
 Manage and supervise researchers to deliver research in a timely and efficient manner, including through quality assurance of concept notes, proposals and research deliverables.
 Supervise and provide technical guidance for research field work in the participating countries.
 Maintain and strengthen donor networks through routine communications and reporting; and ensure donor contributions are well managed, donor expectations are met, and donor reports are completed with high quality.
 Participate in strategic programme discussions on embedding research within planning of education programmes with country offices, regional offices and UNICEF HQ.
 Contribute to the overall research activities of the office and to the use of their findings by decision makers at country level.
 Participate in and/facilitate interdisciplinary research through involvement in selected cross functional teams and consultations, including Annual Reports report and office seminars.


2. Oversight of Research Designs, Methods and Analysis
 Provide oversight and overall guidance on the design and use of mixed methods research built into education programmes and systems, with Ministries of Education and UNICEF field offices.
 Review, quality assure and provide input to research methods and data collection tools ensuring their contextual fit, and their fit for the stage of implementation of the programme under study. Methods will include - implementation research, participatory action research, behavioral insights, mixed-methods experimental / quasi-experimental impact evaluations.
 Help strengthen and support the use of research findings for policy dialogue, programme improvement and system strengthening.
 Lead on analysis and synthesis of evidence for education programmes with a particular focus on early childhood and inclusive education programmes.

3. Technical Guidance and Capacity Building
• Strengthen the capacity of Government counterparts and UNICEF field offices for the design and implementation of research.
• Provide guidance and quality assurance of research on education to Governments and UNICEF field offices.
• Strengthen and support the use of research for policy dialogue and capacity strengthening of Government and Implementing partners at country level.
• Lead on codification and curation of research methods and instruments based on the implementation phase of implementation and context of an education programme.

4. Resource Mobilization, Knowledge Exchange and Partnerships
• Contribute to the dissemination and exchange of research findings and related policy recommendations and best practices.
• Establish and maintain partnerships with networks of researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and donors to identify global / regional / country priorities and fundraising windows.
• Synthesize and organize materials and contribute to relevant sections of UNICEF Innocenti and partners websites.
• Prepare inputs and participate in relevant conferences, workshops, and meetings at global, regional and country level.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in one of the following fields is required: education, economics, social policy or other social sciences.
     A minimum of five years of progressively responsible professional work experience at national or international levels education research, with low/middle-income country level experience essential.
     Demonstrated experience in management of projects across multiple countries.
     Demonstrated experience and knowledge of some of the areas related to digital learning research
     Experience in implementation research and in developing identification strategies for mixed methods impact evaluations is an asset.
     Demonstrated ability to work well as part of a team and to forge and manage partnerships.
     Excellent written and oral communication skills.
     Commitment to UNICEF’s core values of care, respect, integrity, transparency and accountability.
     Ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment.
     Experience working in the UN or other international development organization is an asset.
  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.

Technical competencies must be demonstrated in the following areas:

• Some understanding of the overall global development context, including issues such as: poverty, conflict and the impact of these factors on education and vice-versa; and inter-sectoral approaches to address such issues in collaboration with other sectors (including Social Policy, Child Protection, Nutrition, WASH, Health, and Communications within UNICEF).
• Some knowledge of global developments in education and international engagement strategies, including the application of the equity lens and human rights perspectives to programming.
• Some ability to support policy dialogue: translation of analytical findings and evidence into development programme and policy discussions around equity and learning with partners, including government, development partners, CSOs and academia in relevant areas.
• Strong mixed-methods research capacity, including understanding both quantitative and qualitative research methods; experimental and quasi-experimental research methods, and participatory research methods.
• Some education sector planning knowledge/ability, including the range of modalities for delivering education, linkages between different sub-sectors (e.g. ECD, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Inclusive Education), cost-effectiveness and efficiency issues, key institutional structures, components and processes, as well as governance issues.
• Some programme management in education, including programme design, costing, monitoring and evaluation and reporting.
• Some ability to support engagement with partners e.g. Sector Wide Approaches, Global Partnership for Education, Education in Emergency Clusters, Education Provider Forums, Delivering as One, Inter-sectoral partnerships such as in ECD, as well as networking with other key partners.
• Some understanding of gender and inequity issues in relation to education and development and the application of gender / equity analysis to policy and planning in education.

For every Child, you demonstrate...

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: UNICEF Values

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF is committed to promote the protection and safeguarding of all children. 


Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance. Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments are also subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid). Should you be selected for a position with UNICEF, you either must be inoculated as required or receive a medical exemption from the relevant department of the UN. Otherwise, the selection will be cancelled.

All selected candidates will undergo rigorous reference and background checks and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

This position is no longer open.