Education Specialist

UN Children's Fund, Malawi

Skill Required:, Education Management
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
6th September, 2019

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.

For every child, help:

UNICEF Malawi Country Programme (2019-2023) is aligned with the Government of Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS III) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The programme supports the Government of Malawi to meet its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights in line with international conventions and standards. The country programme is guided by the principles of children’s rights, equity, gender equality, inclusion and resilience, and supports evidence-based, integrative and innovative programming. The vision is that ‘all girls and boys in Malawi, especially the most disadvantaged and deprived, realize their rights’. The programme focuses on: early childhood (parenting, high-impact social services, early stimulation and learning), middle childhood and adolescence (learning, multi-sectoral services, active citizenship), communities (decentralized services and systems, community ownership, social norms), programme effectiveness (monitoring, evaluation, HACT, Innovation, Social Protection and Social Policy and External Communication. The programme is based on ‘leaving no child behind’, realizing ‘rights for all children in Malawi’.

Three pillars have been envisioned to comprise the new country programme that are supportive of a rights-based, equity-focused and life-cycle approach, including (1) Early childhood (ECD), aged 0-5, with a focus on the first 1,000 days; (2) School-aged children, aged 6 up to 18, with a focus on young adolescents, aged 10-14; and (3) Child-friendly, resilient communities that support an enabling environment for the realization of the goals of the other two pillars encompassing the full life cycle of childhood. While some strategic interventions will be at scale, the country programme will predominantly concentrate on the convergence and integration of strategic interventions around the interrelated pillars in a core set of districts and traditional authorities, selected using various criteria, including multi-dimensional child poverty.

The position has been necessitated by the felt needs of 3-6 years old children who are technically in the pre-school age and, therefore, require specified learning protocol and support. It is also important that the children in this age group achieve a well-defined learning outcome as per the laid down curriculum in a centre-based or any other setting. As per the current Country Programme all the services required by children of this age group lie with pillar-1 which has the expertise for health, nutrition, early stimulation and parenting. The position is expected to provide additional support to the integrated ECD framework support in the area of early learning.

The objective of this temporary appointment is to provide technical support and advice to the development, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) element of the ECD programme, for the purpose of strengthening and expanding systems-level support to the country on early learning outcomes.

How can you make a difference?

  • The incumbent will function in a matrix management model, where there will be a matrixed reporting line. The Education Specialist (Early Childhood Education (ECE) will perform under the direct technical supervision of Education Manager (Pillar 2) and functional support supervision of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Specialist (Pillar 1) in planning and implementation of early learning strategies.
  • Under the overall guidance and direction of both the Early Childhood Development Specialist and the Education Manager, the Education Specialist (ECE) is expected to provide technical guidance, operational support and coordination throughout all stages of programming to facilitate the management and delivery of results through key global, regional and country partnerships for early childhood care and education.
  • The Specialist contributes to the design of effective programmatic and partnership strategies for early learning as part of the broader education programme, and to the achievement of concrete and sustainable results according to plans, allocation, results based-management approaches and methodology (RBM), as well as UNICEF’s Strategic Plans, standards of performance and accountability frameworks.
  • The Specialist is expected to focus on design and support of quality early learning experiences in Community Based Care Centres (CBCC), homes and classrooms, via quality curricula, teacher training modules, parenting programmes, etc. and work closely with ECD Specialist, who oversees multi-sectoral early childhood development (ECD) across all sectors.

Summary of key functions/accountabilities:

The Specialist is expected to provide technical support as part of the education team and in partnership with counterparts and partners with a specific focus on the following elements:

  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) sub-sector analysis, policy & costed plans, drawing on available global and regional tools and frameworks, and contributing to the development of Malawi specific guidance as relevant. As a result, planned ECE sub-sector analyses and planning activities are completed, all sector analysis and planning processes supported by UNICEF include ECE, all with comprehensive and system-level attention to ECE.
  • Design and oversight of research on early childhood and school readiness looking at evidence on programmes and policies relevant to the country context. As a result, experience and perspectives on school readiness, including school readiness assessment, are compiled and used to guide new developments in this area.
  • Integration of ECE quality standards in existing EMIS and Quality assurance systems is strengthened. As a result, countries are progressively supported to develop or strengthen mechanisms to systematically implement quality standards so that data can be collected and used at centre/school and national-level to strengthen quality of ECE provision.
  • Collect, compile, catalogue and analyse data and resources related to early childhood education in collaboration with other partners. As a result, a 2019 country update on ECE is compiled and finalized.
  • Develop, review and finalise communication materials, reports, briefs, concept notes, proposals and other related outputs with a focus on ECE. As a result, UNICEF is able to effectively communicate and report on programmes and results in ECE, and also to mobilize new resources and partnerships for ECE.
  • Strengthen the programmatic links between ECD and ECE interventions, initiatives, analysis in Policies. As a result, countries and partners have a better understanding and support to create effective continuum strategies and programmes that benefit children and increase effectiveness.

Toward the aim of achieving the tasks and associated results outlined above, the Specialist is expected to fulfil the following functions:


  • Support the preparation, design and updating of the situation analysis for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) to ensure that current and comprehensive data on ECE is available to guide UNICEF’s strategic policy, advocacy, intervention and development efforts on education programmes.
  • Help supervisor set priorities, strategies, design and implementation plans. Keep abreast of development trends to enhance programme management, efficiency and delivery.
  • Participate in strategic programme discussion on the planning of education programmes. Formulate, design and prepare programme proposals for ECE, ensuring alignment with UNICEF’s Strategic Plans and Country Programme and coherence/integration with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), regional strategies and national priorities, plans and competencies.
  • Establish specific goals, objectives, strategies and implementation plans for ECE programme using results-based planning terminology and methodology (RBM). Prepare required documentations for programme review and approval.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with internal colleagues and partners to discuss strategies and methodologies, and to determine national priorities to ensure the achievement of concrete and sustainable results.
  • Provide technical and operational support throughout all stages of programming processes and to ensure integration, coherence and harmonization of programmes/projects with other UNICEF sectors and achievement of results as planned and allocated.


  • Plan and collaborate with internal colleagues and external partners to establish monitoring benchmarks, performance indicators and other UNICEF/UN system indicators to assess/strengthen performance accountability, coherence and delivery of concrete and sustainable results for the assigned sector on education programmes.
  • Participate in monitoring and evaluation exercises, programme reviews and annual reviews with the government and other counterparts to assess progress and to determine required action/interventions to achieve results.
  • Prepare and assess monitoring and evaluation reports to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses in programme management.
  • Identify lessons learned and use knowledge gained for development planning and timely intervention to achieve goals.
  • Actively monitor programmes/projects through field visits and surveys, and exchange information with stakeholders to assess progress, identify bottlenecks and potential problems, and take timely decisions to resolve issues and/or refer to relevant officials for timely resolution.
  • Monitor and verify the optimum and appropriate use of sectoral programme resources (financial, administrative and other assets) confirming compliance with organizational rules, regulations/procedures and donor commitments, standards of accountability and integrity, ensuring timely reporting and liquidation of resources.
  • Prepare regular and mandated programme reports for management, donors and partners to keep them informed of programme progress.


  • Provide technical guidance and operational support to government counterparts, NGO partners, UN system partners and country office partners and donors on interpretation, application and understanding of UNICEF policies, strategies, processes and best practices and approaches on education and related issues to support programme management, implementation and delivery of results.
  • Arrange/coordinate availability of technical experts with Regional Office/HQ to ensure timely and appropriate support throughout the programming process.
  • Participate in education programme meetings including programme development and contingency planning to provide technical and operational information, advice and support.
  • Draft policy papers, briefs and other strategic programme materials for management use


  • Build and sustain effective close working partnerships with relevant government counterparts, national stakeholders, global partners, donors, and academia through active networking, advocacy and effective communication to build capacity, exchange knowledge/expertise and to reinforce cooperation to achieve sustainable and broad results on education programmes.
  • Prepare communication and information materials for CO programme advocacy to promote awareness, establish partnerships and support fund raising for education programmes.
  • Participate and/or represent UNICEF in appropriate inter-agency (UNCT) discussions on education and related issues to collaborate with inter-agency partners/colleagues on UNDAF planning and preparation of programmes/projects ensuring organizational position, interests and priorities are fully considered and integrated in the UNDAF process in development planning and agenda setting.


  • Apply and introduce innovative approaches and good practices to build the capacity of partners and stakeholders and to support the implementation and delivery of concrete and sustainable programme results.
  • Keep abreast, research, benchmark, and implement best practices in education management. Assess, institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned.

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

  • An advanced university degree in education, early childhood, economics, psychology, sociology, public policy or another relevant technical field.
  • A minimum of five years of professional experience in programme planning, management, and/or research within the field of education.
  • Familiarity with UN systems preferred.

Expected technical competencies:

  • Good knowledge of global developments in early childhood and education systems and international engagement strategies, including the application of the equity lens and human rights perspectives to programming.
  • Good education sector planning knowledge/ability, especially including early childhood education, cost-effectiveness and efficiency issues, key institutional structures, components and processes, as well as governance issues.
  • Good 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.
  • Good ability to support engagement with partners e.g. Global Partnership for Education, Regional institutions and partnerships, Inter-sectoral partnerships such as in ECD, as well as networking with other key partners.
  • Good understanding of gender, inclusion and inequity issues in relation to early childhood education and development and the application of gender / equity analysis to policy and planning in education.
  • Solid communication skills, including strong written and spoken English language appropriate for diverse audiences and purposes.


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