Head of Education - Baghdad, Iraq

Programming Baghdad, Iraq


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps has worked across Iraq’s 18 governorates since 2003, implementing relief and development programming, more than a third of which has focused on the specific needs of internally displaced persons. Mercy Corps Iraq’s goal is to work with new and existing civil society, public and private sector partners to meet immediate and long-term needs by strengthening communities’ ability to rebuild amidst increasing crisis. Mercy Corps Iraq focuses on (1) a relief-to-resilience pathway to meet the needs of conflict-affected communities leveraging agency expertise in conflict management and civil society development (2) a humanitarian response that empowers conflict-affected populations to meet their own needs (3) partnering with conflict-affected adolescents to address their diverse needs, promoting leadership and linkages with civil society.

Through its education program, Mercy Corps is delivering both informal and formal education opportunities for youth and adolescents across Iraq. Through youth centers operated in partnership with local CBOs, Mercy Corps is providing psychosocial support and life skills building for vulnerable young people across the country. Alongside side, Mercy Corps is delivering an adapted version of the Ministry of Education’s Accelerated Learning Curriculum, through centers established by Mercy Corps. Through mediation, counselling and direct support to young people who have lost from one to four years of their education, Mercy Corps’ education programs seeks to ensure improved socio-emotional wellbeing of young people as well as increased ability of displaced, returnee and vulnerable host community youth, especially girls and young women, to enroll in education.


General Position Summary

The Head of Education will report to the Deputy Country Director (DCD). He/She will be responsible for managing the successful implementation of Mercy Corps’ informal and formal youth psychosocial support and education programs, targeting young vulnerable youth across Iraq.

S/he will work with the youth psychosocial support and education teams to ensure that the resources of the programs meet their targets and deliverables on time and that target beneficiaries are mobilized. The job demands regular interaction and coordination with youth and education authorities, partners and UNICEF;, the Head of Education will coordinate activity implementation with these partners.

The Head of Education will have a strong technical background in order to advance Mercy Corps Iraq’s informal and formal education portfolio in Iraq inclusive of youth psychosocial support programs, taking programming to the next level, while promoting sustainability of models proven successful of the last four years.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Provide program technical guidance, coordination, supervision and monitoring designed to meet program objectives, deliverables and goals
  • Lead the informal and formal education activities based on a strong contextual understanding of Iraq and in line with Mercy Corps’ values
  • Provide technical input for Mercy Corps’ education programs and teams
  • Ensure inclusion of national technical staff and other key stakeholders into strategy process
  • Promote the development of a holistic strategy through creating linkages with other sectors strategies (WASH, Livelihoods, Cash)
  • Actively seek new funding initiatives to expand Mercy Corps’ education programs, in line with the agreed country strategy and vision


Program Management
  • Supervise and monitor the implementation of youth PSS and education activities, ensuring that all the activities are compliant with grant requirements and MC internal policies and good practices.
  • Work with DCD to identify, build and manage collaborative partnerships with partners, donors, and other stakeholders
  • Communicate effectively to ensure overall program targets and donor obligations are met
  • Engage with MEL in the development of surveys, need assessments, data and information collection, design interventions accordingly for on-going education programs to build the capacity of Mercy Corps staff, as well as project stakeholders
  • Provide technical oversight to the field teams and mentor senior staff in the design of youth PSS and education activities, including reviewing program manuals and curriculums to ensure the resources utilized through the program are contextually relevant and responsive to the needs of the communities the programs seek to serve
  • Communicate work plans to program staff and to the DCD
  • Working with the MEL Manager to ensure the tracking, monitoring and quality reporting of all education activities.
  • Complete budget pipeline planning, monitoring and monthly follow up in collaboration with Mercy Corps staff and in collaboration with the DCD
  • Ensure documentation and filing of project activities in compliance with Mercy Corps policies and procedures.
  • Understand and appropriately apply education and youth related guidelines and principles, and promote the use of best practices across all program activities
  • Understand and follow Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards.
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Safeguarding Policy, minimum protection standards and Do No Harm principles and ensure that these cross-cutting issues are addressed across the programs from design through to implementation.
  • Ensure that program implementation is conducted with the respect to the security protocols, responsive to communities and partners and consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan
  • Work in coordination with sector leads across the country portfolio to promote integrated programming where relevant.


Team Management
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback via regular performance reviews.
  • Supervise, hire and orient new team members as necessary.
  • Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and reach objectives.
  • Manage performance development plans and identify opportunities for skill development
  • Contribute to country team-building efforts, help team members identify problem-solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.
  • Other duties as assigned by the DCD
Influence & Representation
  • Establish effective advocacy at national, provincial and local government levels towards the importance of providing required regulations and activities to facilitate reentering education
  • Ensure coordination with related Directorate of Education (DoE) and Directorate of Youth to obtain approvals to support implementation and joint activities
  • Develop and maintain effective coordination with community stakeholders, government bodies/officials, civil society bodies and humanitarian partners with an eye towards long-term, cooperative and collaborative relationship-building.
  • Primary participant in cluster working groups and meetings on education and protection, and establish Mercy Corps as a lead agency in the provision of education programs in Iraq
Finance & Compliance Management
  • Prepare procurement and forecasting plan based on the program cycle
  • Manage grant budgets
  • Ensure all necessary requests (procurement requests, purchase orders, etc.) are accurately prepared and submitted on time
  • Ensure internal and donor compliance through a strong knowledge of donor rules and regulations.
  • Stay informed of incidents as they arise through the field and are raised through the program coordination mechanism. Ensure matters are raised with the DCD in a timely manner
  • Enhance internal and external compliance through supporting incident-reporting mechanisms when needed.
  • Maintain and coordinate reporting and documentation of education activities.
  • Timely preparation bi-weekly, quarterly and interim donor reports for relevant activities under the guidance of the DCD and the Grants team.


  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.


Organizational Learning 
  • As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries
  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
    to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

Youth PSS and Education Program Managers and their respective teams

Reports Directly To: Deputy Country Director

Works Directly With: Youth PSS, Education and MEL team members, Grants and regional/HQ technical advisors, as well as in-country support departments (finance, HR, Operations, Security)  


Knowledge and Experience

  • Bachelor’s in relevant field (education, humanitarian assistance or related social science field). or Master’s Degree preferred.
  • 5-7 years overall programmatic managerial experience, including minimum 3 years of experience in management of education programs
  • Experience in complex and complicated settings with time sensitive deliverables in unstable environments
  • CAAFAG experience is a plus.
  • Strong technical background in a broad range of youth development interventions including education in emergencies
  • Strong experience of mentoring a team, identifying talent and building their capacity
  • Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.
  • Knowledge of humanitarian standards and codes, including INEE
  • Knowledge of participatory approaches and community sensitization and mobilization.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage and communicate effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment.
  • Demonstrated flexibility and creativity in planning and problem solving.
  • Experience with the development, implementation and compliance of USAID/DoS, GAC and EC funds
  • Ability to effectively represent Mercy Corps and its interests to key stakeholders including host governments, and national and international NGOs.
  • Excellent oral and written English skills required; proficiency in Arabic is a plus
  • Previous experience in similar contexts.


Success Factors

A successful candidate will have a strong technical background and will have demonstrated management of similar projects in the past. S/he will have the capacity to deliver and meet deadlines, be conscientious, with an excellent sense of judgment and have an ability to foster solid working relationships with communities, GOs, INGOs, and NGOs and other stakeholders. S/he will have an ability to work simultaneously on multiple tasks with strong computer literacy and exceptional organizational skills. S/he will be passionate about mentoring and building team capacities, vision driven and with excellent leadership skills.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Baghdad, Iraq and is unaccompanied.  Accommodation is in a shared guesthouse with a private room and shared bathroom. This position is eligible for hardship allowance and R&R breaks. Travel by air and road within Iraq is required to support all Mercy Corps Iraq’s offices and programs (at least 50% travel).


Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps' policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.


Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision.  Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.