Primary Education Consultancy – Review of access, quality and financing in primary education for refugee children

  • Contract
  • remote
  • TBD USD / Year
  • Salary: TBD

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is offering a home-based Individual Consultancy within the Education Section in the Division of Resilience and Solutions, Copenhagen.

UNHCR is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. We are in over 125 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.

Title: Primary Education Consultancy

Duty Station: Home-based

Duration: from 1 October 2022 until 15 February 2022

Contract Type: Individual Consultancy

Closing date: 03 September 2022

Start date: 1 October 2022

Organizational context

Providing refugee children with access to inclusive and equitable quality education remains an important strategic priority for UNHCR. UNHCR’s policy to pursue the inclusion of refugees in national education systems as provided for in SDG Goal 4, and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) is premised on creating productive and beneficial conditions for refugees and for host country nationals. However, access to education for refugee children remains low, with nearly half of school-aged refugee children estimated to be out of school. At the primary level, the pre-pandemic average gross enrolment rate was 68 percent with corresponding rates of only 34 percent and 5 percent at the secondary and tertiary levels, respectively. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive for all children and youth, with an estimated 24 million children and youth from pre-primary to university levels at risk of not returning to school globally. For refugee children, the pandemic has exacerbated their already existing vulnerabilities and deepened disparities in education access and quality.

With UNHCR’s limited resources, primary education was often prioritized as essential support for both protection and education pathways. Despite this prioritization, participation rates remain low, and most of the primary education budgets are directed at meeting recurrent costs, severe quality and capacity bottlenecks persist. In instances where the primary participation rates were improved, the quality of that education, and the inclusion of the most marginalized, remain major concerns.

This strategic review of UNHCR’s primary education work while considering efforts made over the years to strengthen primary education provision for refugee children will highlight key access, quality, and financing issues for this sub-sector in a changing operational environment made much more urgent by the lingering impact of the COVID-19(learning losses and effect on children’s wellbeing) and escalating displacement situation. The gap analysis and related recommendations will help inform the forthcoming Educate A Child funding proposal, and the review of, and recommendations for the development of, UNHCR’s additional resources and capacity on delivering access to quality primary education.

UNHCR aims to use the review outcome to increase the visibility of the needs of refugee children who are amongst the most marginalized, particularly those that are out of school and generate increased support and attention ahead of the 2030 deadline for meeting SDG Goal 4 targets. Additionally, the review is envisaged to provide UNHCR with both the strategic insights into current approaches to primary education support as well as what will be needed to better target support and effect change in strategies, programs, and priority interventions for improved education access for refugee children.

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations

To view occupational safety and health considerations for specific duty stations, please visit this link:

Specific Occupational Safety and Health Considerations to this assignment (if applicable): Covid-19 restrictions

Duties and responsibilities

UNHCR is seeking to recruit an individual consultant to undertake a review of primary education provision for refugee children across different contexts. The review will examine primary education access, quality, and financing taking into consideration the progress made, gaps, and issues including the education situation for out-of-school children (OOSC). Specific and practical recommendations will be made to inform improvements in primary education access, quality, and financing. The review, in addition to providing strategic insights on primary education provision for refugees, will also be used to inform the design of the and subsequent implementation of the upcoming programme phase of the UNHCR-Educate A Child (EAC) partnership that focusses on enrolment and retention of OOSC.

Detailed consultancy methodology will be agreed upon with the consultant but is envisaged to include a review of relevant literature, analysis of quantitative data sources, primary data collection and analysis, field visit to select countries (to be confirmed), and key informant interviews of relevant internal and external stakeholders at global, regional, and country levels.

The consultant’s scope of work includes the below tasks:

  • Preparation of an inception report that includes a detailed work plan, a list of key stakeholders to be engaged in the review, elaboration of assignment methodology, and a comprehensive desk review of relevant documents and materials with a focus on key review elements of access, quality, and financing in primary education.
  • Analysis of UNHCR’s support for primary education which covers a review of enrolment and funding trends, programmes, institutional capacity, and partnerships across various refugee situations and contexts. The long-standing UNHCR-Educate A Child (EAC) programme will be reviewed to identify high-impact and cost-effective interventions and strategies that contributed to supporting enrolment and retention of OOSC. The COVID-19 impact on education and response measures will be considered in the analysis.
  • Review the global education development agenda in primary education, priority focus areas for major education funders, the extent of support for refugee education, and the type of support mechanisms. This will be key to UNHCR engagement in ongoing efforts to meet SDG 4 targets.
  • Draft the primary education review report that provides an analysis and description of primary education access, quality, and financing as outlined in the consultancy purpose and includes recommendations to inform the design and implementation of the UNHCR-EAC programme. Following comments and feedback from UNHCR and other relevant stakeholders, prepare the final report
  • Develop a short technical brief on primary education that provides an outline description of key primary education issues and priorities to inform planning, implementation, and fundraising
  • Present review outcome at a stakeholder workshop and support with broader dissemination of the study at appropriate forums agreed with UNHCR

Key review deliverables and associated timeframe include:


  • Inception report with detailed work plan, methodology, review report outline, and development of review tools
  • Desk-based literature review, data collection, and key informant interviews

Timeframe: 1 Month

  • Data analysis and field visits to selected countries. A mix of countries with differing education contexts will be selected for the field visit.

Timeframe: 1.5 Months

  • Draft Primary education review report
  • Draft Primary education technical report

Timeframe: 1 month

  • Final Primary education review report with data sets
  • Primary education technical brief
  • Presentation of the report to stakeholders

Timeframe: 1 month

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

Qualification and experience required:


  • Advanced degree in education, international development, social science, or a related field.


  • Ten or more years of experience in strategic planning, policy analysis and development, management, and education development
  • Experience, particularly education in emergency and/or protracted contexts of forced displacement. A combination of humanitarian and development background-related education will be an asset.
  • Evidence of having undertaken similar assignments
  • Demonstrated experience in working with government partners and other stakeholders in public sector development programs
  • Experience in the application of mixed methods research; with strong experience conducting both quantitative and qualitative studies
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills
  • Proven record of project coordination experience involving multiple stakeholders

Key Competencies

  • Excellent written and oral communications skills in the English language. Fluency in French will be an added advantage
  • Advanced interpersonal skills
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • Creativity, positive attitude, and ability to adapt in the face of changing circumstances and/or tight deadlines.


The successful candidate will be working home-based with mission travels to two different counties in Eastern and West Africa, approximately 7 days of travel in each country (Mission countries and dates will be confirmed upon start of the assignment).


The consultancy is planned to be home-based.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their letter of motivation and Personal History Form (PHF) to [email protected] indicating DRS/2022/012; First Name/Last Name, Primary Education Consultancy in the subject of the email.

Personal History Forms are available at PHF Form / Supplementary Sheet.


Applications without PHF Form will not be considered.

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Closing date: 9/3/2022