Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA) Research and Learning Consultancy At UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Protection Officer (RSD) at 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.

Organizational context

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is seeking a research consultant to produce two learning papers for the Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA) programme, situated in the headquarters-based Education Section in Denmark. These Learning papers will explore what the “Messy Middle” of scaling looks like for the Education in Emergencies (EiE) sector and will zoom in on key themes and areas to build the evidence base of what are the key enablers in overcoming these scaling challenges.

The Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA) identifies promising interventions (innovations) that address the educational needs of children living in protracted crises supports these innovators to build their evaluation capacity and provides technical and capacity building to assist them to scale up their innovations. The HEA will generate evidence and lessons learned on “what works” with respect to the implementation and expansion of education innovations in emergency and protracted crises by providing external evaluations of interventions’ effectiveness and potential to scale; strengthening the capacity of organizations to document processes and undertake rigorous evaluations; and documenting lessons learned on taking innovations to scale in refugee settings.

The HEA is working with several organizations (referred to as the innovation teams), supporting them to develop systems and processes to support taking a promising refugee education innovation to scale. The HEA is expected to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding successful scaling of innovative projects and approaches to education for conflict-affected populations. It is therefore important that knowledge products and evidence are generated through research on core themes identified from the outcomes of the first phase of the HEA and in the process of implementing the second phase.

The HEA supports a cohort of humanitarian education innovations through capacity building, mentorship, and financial support. The HEA’s work is critical to both UNHCR and other partners’ understanding of how to assess, scale and share learnings from interventions which support refugees’ access to quality education. To expand its support for innovations at a critical stage in the scaling journey – the ‘Messy Middle’ – as well as to address a lack of comprehensive information, evidence, and real-world examples of how to effectively navigate this stage, the HEA is also convening a community of practice (CoP) to bring different actors together to exchange evidence, good practices and lessons learned. The CoP will bring together actors from the unique intersection between sectors – EiE, education, research, humanitarian innovation and scaling – where the HEA operates.

As an output of this community of practice, these learning papers will generate emerging evidence on what enables innovations to pass through the “Messy Middle” and effectively scale. The papers will further the understanding of the “Messy Middle” stage of scaling, its challenges in an EiE context and most importantly, the enablers of scaling, including what action is needed from different actors to support innovators as they navigate the complexities and uncertainties of scaling. These papers will contribute to growing the global evidence base on what works in EiE contexts, benefitting the EiE community.


The Consultant should propose a methodology for carrying out the assignment, which must be approved by UNHCR HEA. The Consultant is expected to produce analysis that include learning-relevant conclusions, drawing upon the practice, experience, and first-hand knowledge of different stakeholders, as well as the corroborating theoretical and empirical research evidence. Building on a combination of primary and secondary sources, the methodology should include but not be limited to: a review of existing published and grey literature, desk study of relevant primary and secondary data, as well as consultations and interviews with relevant stakeholders after discussions with HEA.

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

To undertake this work, the HEA team envisages the following activities to be necessary. These can be expanded by the consultant during the inception period:

● Workplan and agreed detailed methodology for each paper, to include documentation of stakeholders/data collection processes and agreement on review processes;

● Bi-weekly check-in meetings with HEA Project Team;

● Agreed parameters for the format for the paper including length, referencing style, literature and any graphics to be included;

● Liaison with a creative design firm contracted by the HEA to produce graphics for the papers;

● Substantive contribution to the dissemination of the findings with the HEA team, including working with the Communications Officer on dissemination plan, key messaging, and leading on sharing findings to different stakeholders;

● Participation in HEA dissemination events to validate findings and identify recommendations;

● Contribution to at least two HEA community of practice events; a launch workshop and a presentation of the findings;

● Leading discussions with HEA cohorts on the community of practice to ensure input into the papers with real-world examples and identification of key debates;

● Drafting, review and finalization papers and submit to HEA.

The research consultant will produce a two learning papers, each around 20 pages. The first paper will be submitted for review in July and finalized in August. The second paper will be submitted for review in September and finalized in October.

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

Applications are welcomed from research consultants who demonstrate the following:

• Academic background in education or other related fields; preference for a Master’s degree in Education;

• Five years or more of experience in conducting research/analysis on sustainable scale, evidence use and innovative financing to scale humanitarian innovations;

• Demonstrated experience in the production of publishable and/or peer-reviewed work on education and/or other relevant fields. Publications on the subject of humanitarian scaling and innovation are highly desirable;

• Familiarity with actors and key issues in humanitarian innovation and scaling is required;

• Strong knowledge and demonstrable experience of the humanitarian education sector and the challenges faced by organizations operating in humanitarian settings (desirable);

• Strong interpersonal skills, existing networks and ability to convene stakeholders to participate in research;

• Familiarity with actors and key issues in education in emergencies and policy debates on sustainable scale, evidence use, and research uptake (desirable);

• Willingness to contribute to the broader HEA programme, including events, community of practice and workshops;

• Demonstrated ability to deliver against short timelines and work collaboratively with the HEA Programme;

• Excellent written and oral skills in English; fluency in French or Arabic (desirable).


The successful candidate will be working home-based with mission travels to two different locations (Uganda or Kenya and Denmark) – to be confirmed.


The consultancy is planned to be home-based.

Duration: from 01 June until 31 December 2022.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their letter of motivation and Personal History Form (PHF) to indicating DRS/2022/006; First Name/Last Name, HEA Research and Learning 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


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