Internship- Education Unit

United Nations Children's Fund, Italy

Skill Required:, Education AdvisingResearch and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
24th March, 2021

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

  • UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti is looking for interns for four months from 1 April to 31 July 2021. The internship is full-time and to be done with the Research on Education and Development (READ) team of the UNICEF Office of Research, with two months remotely (teleworking) at the beginning of the internship and the two remaining months in Florence, Italy (if travel is possible without restrictions)
  • The Office of Research-Innocenti (OoR-Innocenti) is the dedicated research office of UNICEF. It 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, Governments and their 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 policy dialogue and implementation at country level.
  • Every Child has the right to learn. However, the gap between what education systems is providing in terms of learning achievements, and what children, communities and economies need, is growing. 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 of research and robust evidence are key for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Education Strategy and the UNICEF Strategic Plan for 2018-2021 as reflected in the Priorities for research and data in support of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan – Using the power of evidence to drive change for children.
  • Education is a key focus of UNICEF Innocenti, which constitutes a primary source of robust, comparative evidence on education and learning to support solutions for education systems, policies and programmes. Working with UNICEF Headquarters, regional and country offices as well as universities and international partners, the education team supports 50+ countries worldwide in conducting evidence-based reviews and field research through multi-country studies.
  • ‘Time to Teach’, one of READ team’s research projects, focuses on the determinants of teacher motivation, attendance and of time on task in 20 countries across Africa, influencing national policy and building national capacities in mixed-methods research through in-country training. ‘Time to teach’ is so far active in East and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa and Morocco.
  • Since 2019, in line with UNICEF Foundational Learning and Numeracy (FLN) Programme, Data Must Speak (DMS) identifies positive deviant schools (i.e. schools that outperform others in terms of learning, equity and retention even though they operate with equivalent resources and contexts). The research explores why those positive deviant schools are outperforming others and investigates how these behaviors/practices could be optimally scaled in lower performing schools. DMS is demand-driven and uses a co-creation and co-implementation mixed-methods approach combining quantitative, qualitative and participatory implementation research as well as behavioral and scaling science, to improve uptake, replicability and sustainability. The research is being undertaken in nine countries across 2 continents.
  • READs innovation in education research portfolio aims to understand how innovations both technology and practice related can be leveraged and scaled up to improve outcomes for marginalized children in and out of school. The digital learning programme investigates the development, implementation and effectiveness of digital learning across various settings (no/low/high connectivity), modalities of use (blended/remote learning), populations, and education goals. Building mixed methods research into large scale digital learning partnerships such as the UNICEF-Akelius foundation partnership and the Learning Passport provides evidence on how to operationalize Reimagine Educations goal of delivering world class digital learning solutions to marginalized children. Currently research is being undertaken with digital learning in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Lebanon, Mauritania, Serbia and Timor Leste. The Let Us Learn (LUL) programme investigates how innovations in education delivery, from early childhood education, through primary and secondary school, through to vocational training can increase opportunities to access and improve learning for the most marginalized children with a specific focus on girls. LUL programme and mixed methods research is undertaken in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal.
  • The early years of a child’s life are critical to building the foundations of learning that help them succeed in school and beyond. READ is establishing a new research portfolio focused on early childhood education. Priority activities for this year include an evidence review of what works, how and in what context, in improving equitable access to and learning quality in pre-primary education. The team is also developing and trialling resources to support parents and caregivers of children with disabilities during remote learning.

How can you make a difference?

  • The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti aims to select full-time interns to support the production and use of high-quality mixed-methods education research for supporting education system strengthening and policy dialogue at country level and addressing the learning crisis, in particular for the most vulnerable children.
  • The interns will support the smooth implementation of multiple READ research projects such as ‘Time to Teach’, ‘Data Must Speak’, ‘Let us Learn’ or others by i) reviewing and synthesizing existing evidence; ii) contributing to quantitative and qualitative research, iii) supporting the production of country studies, blog posts, and other externally facing research documents as well as contributing to synthesis reports; and iv) contributing to new research proposals.

Specific activities to be completed to achieve the objectives
To support the implementation of Innocenti’s research portfolio on education and learning, the interns will perform the following activities:

 Research and dissemination (90%)

  •  Support the implementation of quantitative and qualitative methodologies for research. This may involve the cleaning, coding and analysis of survey, interview and focus group discussion data.
  •  Contribute to the production of written outputs including policy reports, working papers, blog posts and policy briefs. This may involve undertaking literature and policy reviews, conducting comparative analyses, writing up findings, and working with a team of copyeditors and graphic designers.
  •  Contribute to the development of new research proposals on education systems and on learning at local level (in and outside the school).
  •  Support research dissemination. This may include supporting the organization of dissemination events (remote or onsite) and the development of background documentation (e.g., concept notes, invitations, media products, infographics, slide decks, etc.).

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

  •  Contribute to the overall research activities of the Office.
  •  Support interdisciplinary research through involvement in selected cross functional teams and consultations and participation in office seminars.

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


The candidates should:

  •  Be enrolled in the last year of a master's or Ph.D. programme at an accredited institution or be a recent graduate (have graduated within the past two years) in Education, Economics, Statistics or other fields in Social Sciences related to the work of UNICEF.
  •  Have experience in qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
  •  Be fluent and have excellent reading and writing skills in English. Knowledge of French and Portuguese will be an advantage.
  •  Have strong academic performance as demonstrated by recent university or institution records or, if not available, a reference letter from an academic supervisor.
  •  Have no immediate relatives (father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother) working in any UNICEF offices in the world.
  •  Have comprehensive health insurance coverage for the entire duration of the internship (UNICEF does not arrange health insurance for interns).

Required competencies:

  • Technical - strong understanding of various qualitative and quantitative methodologies and analysis.
  • Technical - strong research and analytical skills and ability to conduct critical literature reviews.
  •  Technical - excellent knowledge and command of Excel and of statistical software.
  •  Communication - effectively presents thoughts and ideas including complex technical concepts, in a clear, concise and readily understood manner, both verbally and in writing. Listens to and acknowledges others’ perspectives and views.
  •  Managing resources – be efficient and effective. The candidate is comfortable with organizing and managing time and information to achieve defined goals and optimum results, working to strict deadlines.
  •  Flexibility - works effectively on multiple assignments simultaneously and adapts to changing demands and circumstances.
  •  Flexibility - ability to work both independently and as part of a team.


  • Experience in research on issues related to education, in particular, teacher management, early childhood education, digital learning and education data systems.
  • Experience in drafting policy-relevant reports.
  • Research publications in refereed/peer-reviewed journals.


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