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THE EDUCATION GLOBAL PRACTICE
Education is central to achieving the WBG’s twin goals: it is a reliable route out of poverty through large and consistent returns to income for individuals and as a driver for economic growth. It is also a prime vehicle for promoting shared prosperity. The main challenge in the education sector is to achieve “learning for all and learning for life”- that is, to ensure that all children and young people acquire the knowledge and skills they need for their lives and livelihoods. In the past two decades, the developing world has made great advances in education, most notably in enrolling and keeping children in school and in approaching gender equality. Despite these successes in expanding access to education, critical challenges remain: removing persistent educational barriers faced by the poorest people and those living in fragile and conflict-affected states and improving the quality of education so that schooling leads to real learning. In recent years, the WBG, and the broader education development community, have shifted their focus to include learning outcomes. Traditional input-driven programs have shown that they do not always lead to improved learning outcomes, so that the WBG’s education strategy highlights the need for a more comprehensive ‘systems approach’ to education reform, investments, and service delivery. This approach is about increasing accountability and targeting results, as a complement to providing inputs. It also requires strengthening the knowledge base on education, to highlight where systems are achieving results, where they are falling short, and what the most effective solutions are. These efforts are increasingly guided by the need to invest early; invest smartly; and invest for all. Through high-quality analytical work, collection of evidence, and practical know-how in these three areas, the WBG is helping its partner countries accelerate their progress in the education sector.
The Education Global Practice is led by a Global Director, who has overall responsibility for the practice, together with Regional Directors who oversee the human development program in the regions working with ten Practice Managers.
REGIONAL/ UNIT CONTEXT
The World Bank Group serves over 30 client countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LCR). Clients range from large sophisticated middle-income clients (MIC) to IDA countries to small Caribbean states to one fragile state. After a decade of sound economic management with solid social progress, Latin America has reached a development crossroads. With slower growth prospects and the threat in the reversal of fortunes for many, the region now faces new challenges, and improving productivity is now increasingly emerging as a key underlying factor to address them. Progress on this front will be critical for higher growth and to ensure that the social gains amassed over the economic boom of the past decade – one that expanded the middle class to more than one third of the entire population and lifted 80 million people out of poverty- are not eroded. Moreover, Latin America’s inequality continues to be high compared to other world regions; and the recent COVID-19 crisis has had a tremendous toll on the region, with the GDP expected to have decreased by about 7% in 2020.
High quality education for all is central in the pursuit of growth and equity. The Education Unit for LCR works with client countries – at the regional, sub-regional, national and sub-national levels – to address key education challenges. To cite some of the key challenges: (a) learning outcomes have tended to improve, but LCR is still facing a Learning Crisis – with a learning poverty of about 50% and on average, 15-year-old students three years behind in reading, mathematics, and science when compared to a student in an OECD country; (b) learning gaps between students from better-off and most disadvantaged backgrounds are very large; (c) enrollment has continued to increase in secondary education but completion remains a regional challenge, especially among the poorest; and (d) the supply of higher education has increased significantly, but relevance and inclusiveness are still important challenges. These challenges have by now been strongly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound impact on Latin America. The latest simulations estimate that the region would be faced with the largest expected increase in Learning Poverty levels with an increase up to 79%, and all other metrics, in primary, secondary and tertiary education, are evolving in very worrisome ways, especially for the most vulnerable children and youth. We are also expecting large increases in dropouts if learning gaps are not addressed.
To address these challenges and their underlying constraints, the unit’s education strategy centers on four key pillars: (a) investing in Early Childhood Education/Development; (b) measuring and improving teaching and learning; (c) addressing drop-outs and improving the skills of secondary and tertiary-school age youth; and (d) pursuing best practices in governance, management and financing. This also includes the effective use of ICT and learning spaces and a strong focus on inclusion. These pillars are consistent with the global education practice approach and the focus on learning poverty, as well as with the main strategic intervention areas to help countries cope and recover from the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector. These areas of intervention are focused on the return to schooling and recovery and acceleration of learning through: (i) safely and sustainably reopening all schools; (ii) implementing policies and strategies for re-enrolling all students and preventing dropouts; (iii) prioritizing and consolidating curricula; (iv) assessing learning levels; and (v) implementing at scale learning recovery strategies and programs. It is expected that the focus of FY23 will still largely be on helping LAC countries recover from the COVID-19 crisis on their education sector, while laying the ground for longer term improvements in education systems.
To implement its strategy, the unit has a large program comprising analytical and advisory (ASA) services as well as lending operations. It currently has a well-performing portfolio of 25 operations across most countries of the region, and education levels. The portfolio has increasingly used new lending instruments to support systemic reforms (including IPFs with PBCs, and the two first ever PforR in education in LCR in Brazil and Argentina). In part to respond to the challenges of the pandemic, a significant proportion of projects have been or are being restructured. The unit has a strong emphasis on bringing the best global evidence to inform its products and services for its clients, and in working strategically with clients to generate knowledge where the knowledge base is still nascent. lt produces innovative and programmatic ASA work, with analytical and just-in-time components, which is highly valued by our MIC clients, while also including a strong program of impact evaluations embedded in client engagements (operations or ASA). The unit also prides itself in its thought leadership through the preparation of rigorous regional studies to shed light on policy relevant issues in the region (teachers, school dropout, higher education, system and school management, impact of the pandemic, for example). We also stepped-up opportunities to share our work with the rest of the Bank through the Tuesday Talks and several BBLs and webinars, and our monthly COVID-19 dashboards. In FY22 we also launched a powerful Education Campaign, including a regional call for action on learning recovery and protection and a regional report (Two Years After: Saving a Generation), both attracting a huge media coverage. Moving forward, we have several new projects under preparation and/or in the pipeline, including, among others, in Brazil, Jamaica, The Caribbean, Paraguay, Argentina, with a strong focus on recovering from the pandemic and/or laying the ground for improving education in the longer-term, including supporting skills development, safe schools, and policies and strategies for schooling and learning recovery, and there is potential to do much more.
In Guyana, the World Bank has a strong and comprehensive engagement in the education sector, which represents the majority of the World Bank’s lending portfolio in country. This includes four ongoing investment projects (with scope for even more) that build on each other towards Guyana’s education objectives, as outlined in the Guyana Education Sector Plan 2021-25. The ongoing projects support all levels of education, from nursery to tertiary, in a lifecycle approach to education that balances addressing both access and quality challenges. The interventions include curriculum reform for Grades 1-9 and Nursery 1-2, teacher training and capacity building, skills development, construction of school facilities, early childhood education and pedagogy, leveraging EdTech for learning recovery and establishment of enhanced education management and information systems.
The Guyana Country Office is part of the Caribbean Country Management Unit (LCC3) c led by a Country Director with the support of an Operation Manager both based in Jamaica/Kingston, and headed by a Resident Representative for Guyana based in Guyana/Georgetown.
In light of the above, the unit is seeking a Senior Education Economist/Specialist, based in the Guyana Country Office, to lead and/or co-lead the education policy dialogue, portfolio and technical assistance engagement for Guyana. The economist/specialist may also participate in other regional or Caribbean education sector tasks. The selected candidate will report to the Practice Manager for the LCR education unit (HCLED) and is expected to work in close collaboration with the CMU (especially the Resident Representative), the other members of the education and Human Development team, and colleagues in other Global Practices (GPs) working on Guyana.
Duties and Accountabilities:
The Sr. Economist/Education Specialist based in the Guyana Country Office is expected to:
- Lead and/or co-lead the education dialogue in Guyana, with a strong focus on daily and strategic dialogue and ensuring the effective implementation of the existing project portfolio
- Guyana Secondary Education Improvement (P147924) US$23.5M – Closing June 30, 2023
- Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project (P159519) US$13.33M – Closing April 30, 2025
- Guyana Education Sector Program Project (P174244) US$6.7M – Closing June 30, 2024
- Guyana Strengthening Human Capital Through Education Project (P177741) US$44M – Closing June 30, 2027
- Lead, co-lead or support the supervision of the project portfolio and the preparation of new investment/policy lending operations and high quality customized analytical and advisory services, in several education areas, including the ones related to the current program
- Forge strong partnerships with other development partners and strategic stakeholders to carry the dialogue forward
- Contribute to the CMU and other GPs led cross-sectorial tasks (Systematic Country Diagnostic, Country Partnership Framework, Flagships, Development Policy Lending, etc)
- Mentor and advise more junior staff and consultants in operational and analytical roles
- Serve, as needed, as focal point in critical areas for the unit (and the GP).
The ideal candidate will combine excellent client dialogue and team management skills, strong operational skills to provide effective leadership and/or implementation support to the education portfolio, and excellent technical skills to provide just in time solutions to external clients.
The candidate should have:
- Advanced degree (Master’s or PhD) in economics, education, business or related fields
- Experience: A minimum of 8 years directly relevant work experience in education; and demonstrated expert-level knowledge of education policy
- Excellent client skills and sustained track record of leading policy dialogue and/or developing business in education
- Excellent operational skills to be able to effectively lead or co-lead operations and teams through all the stages of project preparation and supervision, including in low-income and low-capacity contexts
- Strong technical skills, and in-depth knowledge in at least some of the key education sector areas
- Track record of delivering and implementing high impact operations/interventions across education levels based on solid evidence
- Proven track-record of working well with teams
- Solid experience working with development partners
- Excellent communication and writing skills in English
- Ability to juggle numerous competing demands and priorities, respond quickly to internal and external client requests, and set realistic priorities for self and others
- High levels of energy, initiative, and flexibility. Proactive attitude to challenges and flexibility in quickly adjusting to changing work program requirements
WBG Managerial Competencies
World Bank Group Core Competencies
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