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The Ins and Outs of Education Programming: A JPC’s Reflection

By Sher Yao

Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.

Hi everyone! My name is Sher, and I am a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) with UNICEF HQ (New York) and a Curriculum & Pedagogy Master of Education student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto (UofT). Initially, I entered this internship with a skeptical mindset about managing both a professional and academic life. However, while academia imparts a variety of learning strategies, working with UNICEF has taught me how to transform these theoretical ideas into programmatic realities. This internship is truly shaping up to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

JPC Sher on working towards the goals of SDG 4 'Quality Education'

As an Education Section JPC for the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) initiative, problem solving with the global education community (UNICEF country and regional offices, The World Bank, UNESCO, etc.) to reach the most marginalized children has become my day-to-day. I have the privilege of facilitating technical support for literacy and numeracy programme implementation in over 15 countries. Being part of a team has emphasized the importance of niche skillsets such as collaboration, communication and trust for successful partnerships. But the most empowering aspect of this journey is witnessing groups from diverse geographic locations working towards a shared goal – to ensure that at least 78 million children aged 10 or older have solid foundational skills by 2030.

The highlight of my internship was contributing to the FLN Hub, a public resource that provides actionable guidance to improve an education system’s capacity to deliver FLN. My education at UofT supplied the theories behind many FLN interventions, including formative assessments, parental engagement, and digital learning. It was through supporting the conceptualization and development of global public goods – including guidance, practical tools, and resources that I’ve been propelled to think more critically about external factors that influence learning. Furthermore, I am continuously motivated by my supervisors to think from various angles for equity-driven outputs. This experience has not only deepened my UNICEF tasks but has also generated many fresh perspectives for my grad work.

Sher's remote workspace

Although I started this UNICEF placement with a faint understanding of primary education programming, particularly in developing countries, I now have a confident grasp on the multifaceted aspects of supporting education policymaking at the global level. From working on guidance development, evidence generation, advocacy and communication, graphic design, to knowledge management, I have dabbled in each step of the process. But beyond the wealth of knowledge I acquired, working at a multilateral organization has also deepened my commitment to children. Going forward, I hope to dedicate my academic and professional career to ensuring that all children have access to quality education.

I am grateful to UNA-Canada’s IYIP program for connecting me with this internship. Thank you to my amazing UNICEF supervisors for guiding me every step of the way and for providing an opportunity to partake in this mobilizing journey.


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