Education Specialist – Alternative Learning and Area Programme


Mission and objectives

UNICEF helps build a world where the rights of every child are fully realized. It is our conviction that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created in 1946 to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. It has global authority to influence decision-makers, and a wide variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children’s survival, protection and development. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and Governments.


Primary education in Zambia once was near-universal but the system is significantly pressured due to population growth and years of under-investment (net enrolment rate for primary declined from 94.4% in 2014 to 81.8% in 2020. Access to secondary education has been also low with a Gross Enrollment Rate (GER) standing at 45.8% and is particularly challenging for adolescent girls who are disproportionately affected by child marriage and early pregnancy. The Government has taken bold steps to implement a series of education sector reforms, including the abolition of user fees for all secondary level learners and ECE learners including tuition fees, examination fees, and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fees, which brought in massive number of learners back into the system. The Government is now focusing on the expansion of infrastructure and teacher recruitment to ensure quality learning provision to all those who have now enrolled in the education system. As concerns learning quality, international and national assessments have shown poor learning outcomes in foundational areas such as literacy, numeracy and problem solving. COVID-19 further worsened the situation as only 4% of Grade 2 learners were able to read at the grade level (USAID 2021) and some 75.2% of the assessed Grade 5 learners did not meet the minimum level of reading proficiencies expected for the grade (Examination Council Zambia 2022). Key factors leading to this were overcrowding in classrooms, low levels of early childhood education, low right-age entry to Grade 1, limited education levels of teachers and weak pedagogical practices, lack of teaching and learning materials, and teacher and learner absenteeism. By age 18, children in Zambia can expect to complete an average of 9.2 years of education but acquire only the equivalent of 5.2 years of learning (World Bank 2018). The situation was further worsened by a series of school closures caused by the global COVID-19. Noting the profound learning crisis faced by Zambia, Ministry of Education (MoE) renewed its commitment to Foundational Literacy and Numeracy strengthening. UNICEF Zambia supports the Government of Zambia’s efforts in strengthening access, quality and equity of the education provisions from ECE level to lower secondary level, with strong focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged learners including refugee children. The flagship programme in Luapula and North-Western Provinces include Teaching at the Right Level (Catch-Up Programme) which aims to strengthen foundational literacy and numeracy skills of primary school children from both refugee settlements and host communities). Taking the lessons from the COVID-19 school closure, UNICEF Zambia’s education programme supports Ministry of Education (MoE) in strengthening distance and digital learning platforms and contents (called Learning Passport) that is open to all Zambians for their continuation of learning. The incumbent will support UNICEF’s Education team to effectively plan, implement and manage the education programmes, especially in the areas of alternative modes of education provision such as e-learning and distance education and the education programmes implemented in Luapula and North-Western Provinces. He/she will work closely with the Ministry of Education at national and local levels, UN agencies, private sector, other development partners and NGO counterparts.

Task description

Under the direct supervision of Chief of Education, The Education Specialist – Alternative Learning and Area Programme Support, will undertake the following tasks:

  • Support the implementation of UNICEF’s education programmes in Luapula Province and North-Western Province. This will include working with the UNICEF Education Team, the Ministry of Education Headquarters, Provincial and District Education Authorities, UNHCR and school personnel to plan, monitor and provide technical support on programme implementation;
  • Provide support to strengthening the cross-sectoral coordination with other sectors, e.g., nutrition, WASH, child protection and health, to support the needs of vulnerable learners including refugee children;
  • Support strengthening of the distance and digital learning platform (Learning Passport – LP) by developing teacher training modules on the effective use of blended learning, support MoE to identify existing digital contents (e-books, audio materials etc.) and uploading them to LP, and collaborate with UNICEF’s Communications Unit to support the Ministry of Education in developing dissemination strategies for wider use of LP;
  • Strengthen the monitoring mechanisms of learners enrolled in LP with the Ministry of Education; Liaise with UNICEF Global and Regional team on the latest digital learning development and on the progress of LP implementation and share Zambia’s experiences with other countries;
  • Support a series of on-going research pieces and studies including assessment of the alternative modes of education provision, school effectiveness study and language of instruction study to strengthen their findings and quality products and to help generate meaningful findings to improve quality of learning;
  • Based on field visit experiences, lessons learnt and information/data analysis, develop education advocacy materials (both internal and external) and contribute to fund raising activities for enhancing the learning of the most disadvantaged children and adolescents in Zambia;
  • Participate in a series of learning opportunities (on-line, country office level, regional trainings, and orientations) to be familiarised with UNICEF operations and programme areas;
  • Contribute to the development of the annual work plans and budgets of the education section;
  • Contribute to drafting of programme/project status reports required for management and donors, including budgetary reviews, programme analysis, annual reports, etc; Analyse collected data and information pertaining to education and prepare progress reports including monitoring and reporting indicators, segregated by age and gender.

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