Education is crucial for African youth to break out of poverty and make meaningful contributions to their communities. However, lack of access and affordability often impedes the academic journey of bright African students. This is where scholarships play a pivotal role by providing financial aid and opportunities to talented youth who wish to study further.
UNICEF, also known as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, offers many highly-valued scholarships, fellowships, and internships aimed explicitly at students from developing nations, including African countries. These programs enable African students to gain practical experience, acquire new skills, conduct influential research, and earn academic degrees from renowned universities.
In this blog post, we will look at the different UNICEF scholarship programs available for African students and provide information on eligibility criteria, the application process, and the selection process.
UNICEF is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. They were created in 1946 (headquartered in New York City) to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries devastated by World War II. They aim to ensure every child has the right to health, education, equality, and protection. UNICEF is active in over 190 countries and territories worldwide.
The organization believes quality education is the key to creating better futures. That’s why UNICEF collaborates with governments, NGOs, and universities globally to provide learning opportunities for children and youth, especially in disadvantaged regions like sub-Saharan Africa.
UNICEF helps empower children, especially girls, to reach their full potential and become contributing members of their communities. They offer scholarships, fellowships, and internships to provide educational opportunities for students from developing nations. They also run community schools, train teachers, and offer scholarships, particularly to African students for higher education.
UNICEF Scholarships for African Students
Here are some of the popular UNICEF scholarship programmes for which African students can apply:
UNICEF Internship Programme
The UNICEF Internship programme offers selected students an internship at UNICEF country offices and headquarters. It’s a great way for African students to gain work experience with UNICEF professionals, learn new skills, and gain insight into development work.
Interns work for 2-6 months on a project related to programme planning, research, policy development, etc. It provides a first-hand experience of UNICEF’s work while being mentored by experienced UNICEF staff.
UNICEF International Professional Fellowship Programme
This fellowship, offered by UNICEF UK, allows young professionals to work directly with UNICEF programme country offices for 1 year. The selected fellows get hands-on experience in programme management, research, policy development, advocacy etc.
Ideal for African students who have completed their education and have 2-3 years of work experience in a relevant field. Proficiency in English and French is required.
UNICEF Research Fellowship Programme
Offered for graduates and post-graduates, this research fellowship allows students to contribute to UNICEF’s research in a developing country for 3-6 months. From drafting papers to data collection and analysis, fellows work closely with UNICEF research teams on important projects.
Fellows receive a monthly stipend during the programme. It’s a great way for African students to conduct field research and expand their skills.
UNICEF Master’s International Programme (MIP)
MIP allows African students to combine a Master’s degree at a partner university with an internship at UNICEF country office. During the 10-11 month internship, students work on developing, implementing and monitoring UNICEF programmes.
Students can pursue MIP in social policy, international development, public health, statistics, and communications. UNICEF sponsors participation fees and provides a monthly stipend.
UNICEF Scholarships in China
In partnership with the Chinese government, UNICEF offers full scholarships for African students to pursue Master’s programmes in subjects like public health, education management, social policy and international development at select Chinese universities.
The scholarship covers tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, and insurance. Students also receive Chinese language training before the academic programme. It’s an excellent opportunity for African students looking to study in China.
UNICEF Field Ready Programme
Under this programme, UNICEF collaborates with technology companies like Field Ready to provide practical skills training to young people in developing countries to support humanitarian response.
African students can acquire skills in drone piloting, 3D printing, data collection, and geospatial analysis over 3-6 weeks of training boot camps. Participants get hands-on experience responding to simulated emergencies across Africa.
UNICEF Innovation Fund
UNICEF’s open-source Innovation Fund offers grants of up to $100,000 to provide seed funding for open-source technology solutions that can improve children’s lives.
African graduate students and technology entrepreneurs can apply for the grant to develop innovative prototypes and solutions in areas like health, education, communication, etc. Grantees receive mentorship and access to UNICEF’s network.
Eligibility Criteria for UNICEF Scholarships
Here are some of the basic eligibility criteria African students need to meet to apply for UNICEF scholarships:
- Citizenship from an African country
- Enrolled in or completed post-secondary education (Bachelor’s degree minimum)
- Proficiency in English or French language
- Work/volunteer experience in field of interest
- Specific academic background related to programme area
- Strong passion for social development and helping children
- Age limits for certain programmes (e.g., below 32 years for fellowships)
- Not having close relations working at UNICEF
- Meeting health requirements and having medical insurance
Students interested in UNICEF scholarships should thoroughly go through the application guide available on the official UNICEF website. Here are some key steps to follow:
- Browse through the various UNICEF scholarship programmes and identify one that matches your academic background, interests, and career goals. Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Carefully go through the application checklist to prepare all required documents. This includes transcripts, resumes/CVs, test scores (TOEFL/IELTS/GRE), letters of recommendation, writing samples, etc.
- Draft a compelling personal statement emphasizing your qualifications, relevant experience, passion for the program, and future goals. The statement should highlight how you will contribute to UNICEF’s mission.
- Populate the online application form with the required information and submit it along with supporting documents before the deadline. Double-check to ensure everything is accurate.
- Some programs may require extra documents – project proposals, answers to essay questions, special forms, etc. Submit those as specified.
- Follow up after submission to ensure your application is complete. Reach out to UNICEF if you have any questions.
- Make sure your referees submit letters of recommendation before the deadline. Follow up with them.
- You may need to provide multiple country/location preferences for fellowship programs. Do appropriate research.
- If invited for tests or interviews, thoroughly prepare yourself to perform well.
- Be responsive to any additional information UNICEF may request during the evaluation process.
Putting together a scholarship application for UNICEF requires great attention to detail, planning, and persistence. Follow the instructions carefully and focus on presenting your strengths and abilities in the best possible manner. Reach out for help if needed.
UNICEF follows a competitive review process to select the best scholarship applicants. Some key selection criteria include:
- Strong academic performance and relevant educational background
- Work, volunteer, and extracurricular experience
- Skills, knowledge and interest alignment with programme objectives
- Quality of personal statement and communication skills
- Recommendations from professors, employers, etc.
- Performance in tests like TOEFL, GRE, etc. if required for programme
- Interview performance (for some programmes)
UNICEF aims to maintain geographic diversity in selection while keeping merit as the driving criterion. Shortlisted applicants go through an extensive interview process before final selections are made.
UNICEF offers various valuable scholarships and fellowships specially tailored for African students to provide them with educational and professional development opportunities. These programmes allow students to gain field experience, conduct research, develop specialized skills, and contribute to UNICEF’s mission of helping vulnerable children.
African students who are passionate about social development and want global experience should strongly consider applying for UNICEF scholarships. The application process is competitive but rewarding. With thorough preparation and putting one’s best foot forward, African students have a strong chance at securing a UNICEF scholarship and making a meaningful impact.