Education Research Specialist

United Nations Children's Fund

Florence, Italy

Job organizational context:

  • The Innocenti Global Office of Research and Foresight (Innocenti) undertakes and commissions research on emerging or current issues of relevance for children in order to inform the strategic directions, policies and programmes of UNICEF and its partners. The Office explores emerging issues, identifies research gaps, brings together existing researchers, and supports or undertakes research and data collection to address critical questions and to inform global debates.
  • Every Child has the right to learn. Although more children than ever before are enrolled in school, the duty-bearers obligated to realize this right for every child are collectively failing to improve learning, and this failure is deep, broad and with significant consequences for children and young people. Many children lack the knowledge and skills to realize their full potential and maximize their contribution to their communities. Seven out ten children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read a simple text by the age of 10. The breadth and depth of this learning crisis provides the greatest global challenge to preparing children and adolescents for life, work and active citizenship.
  • UNICEF vision for education is that ‘every child learns’, articulated in the 2019-2030 Education Strategy across three inter-related goals: (i) equitable access to learning opportunities; (ii) improved learning and skills for all; (iii) improved learning and protection for children in emergencies and transitions. The generation and use at country level of research and robust evidence are key for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Education Strategy and the UNICEF Strategic Plan for 2022-2025.
  • UNICEF needs to enhance its emphasis on generating and using evidence and data in education, a contribution that will be crucial in supporting education system strengthening and policy dialogue and decision-making at country level for advancing foundational learning results for all children and adolescents, in particular the most vulnerable.

Purpose of the post:

  • Innocenti aims to strengthen UNICEF capacity to deliver the production and use of high quality research for education and learning outcomes.
  • The post-holder will work with colleagues in Innocenti, Headquarters, Regional and Country offices, as well as, other parts of UNICEF, to build on the existing research and to develop new ones. The role will also involve project management and fostering the development of partnerships and mobilizing resources for the generation of research and data and their utilization by decision and policy makers at country level.
  • The position will report to the Chief, Education Research.

Key functions, accountabilities and related duties/tasks:

Research and its use (50%)

  • Support the implementation and expansion of the research portfolio on education and foundational learning, including on strategic topics such as teacher policies and management, education systems and cross-sectoral issues.
  • Develop proposals and mobilize resources to support education and foundational learning research and its use at country level; 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 and on time.
  • Develop and implement quantitative and qualitative methodologies for research on teacher policies, education systems and cross-sectoral issues; deliver rigorous research in a timely and efficient manner and ensure the use of their findings at country level.
  • Develop and implement research and evaluation methodologies in relation to the theories of change and their assumed causal pathways of the 2019-2030 UNICEF Education Strategy and of the education component of the UNICEF Strategic Plans
  • Supervise consultants and maintain close relationship with UNICEF HQ, Field Offices and National Committees.

 Technical guidance and support (30%)

  • Provide guidance and quality assurance on education and foundational learning research design to Ministries of Education and UNICEF field offices
  • Strengthen the capacity of Ministries of Education and UNICEF field offices for co-creation design of research in the areas of education and foundational learning, with a focus on teacher policies and management and education systems
  • Strengthen and support the use of research and evaluation findings for policy dialogue and education system strengthening at country level.
  • Support, collaborate in or coordinate research initiated or requested by UNICEF Country and Regional Offices or HQ according to agreed organizational priorities.

Knowledge exchange and dissemination (10%)

  • Contribute to the dissemination and exchange of research findings and related policy recommendations and best practices related to education, in particular on teacher policies and management, education systems and cross-sectoral issues.
  • Synthetize and organize materials and contribute to the relevant sections of the OoR website.
  • Prepare inputs and participate in relevant conferences, workshops and meetings, including through effective dissemination of key research outcomes for effective use at country level
  • Support and participate in networks of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the areas of education and foundational learning.

Contribution to the Innocenti work programme and support to the cross-cutting research agenda (10%)

  • Contribute to the overall research activities of the Office and to the use of their findings by policy and decision makers at country level.
  • Participate in and/facilitate interdisciplinary research through involvement in selected cross functional teams and consultations, including Annual Results report and participation in office seminars
  • Develop joint proposals and contribute to fundraising for research and evidence.
  • Act as a resource person for key UNICEF meetings and advocacy activities as requested by the manager.

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


  • Advanced university degree in economics, social policy, statistics or related Social Sciences.


  • A minimum of five years of progressively responsible professional work experience at national or international levels in the area of education research, education data analysis or education economics analysis, with developing country level experience essential;
  • Demonstrated experience in both quantitative and qualitative research projects, methods and analysis;
  • Extensive knowledge of advanced statistical analysis software packages;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to work well as part of a team and to forge and manage partnerships;
  • Demonstrated experience in project management (including supervision of consultants) and in resource mobilization;
  • 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 an asset.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English required; ability to work in a second UN working language desirable.