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Role purpose

VVOB – education for development in partnership with Teaching at the Right Level Africa (TaRL Africa) seeks a Research and Learning Advisor to support the research, learning and evidence generation for the “Catch Up - TaRL” programme in Zambia. This role provides an excellent opportunity to be part of a leading evidence-based initiative tackling low learning levels.


The role will be based in Lusaka, with frequent travel within Zambia. The position is suitable for candidates interested in public-policy research and impact evaluation. 


VVOB – education for development is a non-profit organisation that focuses on improving the quality of education. VVOB has its global headquarters in Brussels and is currently implementing education programmes in 10 countries.

TaRL Africa is a joint venture by Pratham and J-PAL. The TaRL Africa team supports partners working to address the learning crisis in primary schools in Africa through the evidence-based TaRL approach.


The evidence-based Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) approach, pioneered by Pratham in India, helps learners develop basic reading and numeracy skills. It has been evaluated and proven to be effective by many randomized evaluations. In a TaRL classroom: learners are assessed on basic reading and numeracy using a simple tool; grouped by learning level, rather than by grade, for a dedicated time when they focus building foundational skills through activities and materials appropriate for each group. As learners progress, they move to the next learning group and continue to grow.


In Zambia, the TaRL approach is locally known as “Catch Up” and was piloted by the Zambia Ministry of General Education (MoGE) in 2016-17. It is currently being implemented by MoGE in all 1800 primary schools in the 27 districts of Southern and Eastern province, with support from VVOB, TaRL Africa, Unicef and USAID.  MoGE has an ambition of making it a national programme, and preparations for expansion into new provinces in 2021 are underway.


The research advisor position is based at the VVOB office in Lusaka, Zambia, and the jobholder will report to both the VVOB Catch Up Education Manager and TaRL Africa. The research advisor position will work under close supervision of the Principal Investigator (PI) TaRL Africa and PI VVOB Zambia. This post is a local position open to Zambian nationals or Zambian residents.

Main responsibilities

The Research and Learning Advisor will oversee research activities under the learning agenda for Zambia’s TaRL programme - Catch Up. This includes working to design and manage research and evaluations applying quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches. 


Key responsibilities include:

  • Scoping, designing and testing research and learning initiatives;
    • Supporting design and pilot of possible program assessment models
    • Designing pilot assessment and monitoring systems
    • Overseeing and supporting pilot implementation including training of stakeholders
    • Monitoring pilot process and providing periodic reports
    • Training and supervising enumerators on data collection
    • Analyzing, reporting and disseminating pilot outcomes
    • Supporting design of potential rigorous evaluations
  • Supporting rigorous evaluation (RCT) design and roll-out;
    • Assisting the Principal Investigator in developing instruments for each round of data collection
    • Digitizing data collection instruments
    • Training enumerators on data collection instruments
    • Overseeing data collection, and ensuring that it complies with standards for data quality
    • Monitoring the quality of the implementation of interventions
    • Assisting with applications to local and international institutional review boards
    • Writing high-quality documents for the evaluation, including training manuals, process reports and reports of results from the different rounds of data collection
  • Working in close collaboration with the research team and partner organizations to track overall progress on the project and ensure adherence to timelines and the project-plan.
  • Join and contribute to learning team meetings and brainstorming on other TaRL Africa research projects. 
  • Engage internal and external stakeholders.
  • Creatively communicate research lessons and results with the TaRL community and more broadly (ex. through blogs, podcasts, newsletters, etc.).

Education and qualification

  • Minimum a Bachelor degree, preferably a Master degree in social sciences, development studies, education, economics, public health, statistics, or a related field.
  • For Master degree holders, minimum one year of experience working in a similar research-focused position, for Bachelor degree holders, minimum 3 years work experience in a research-focused position.
  • Demonstrated experience with data collection platforms and data analysis software, such as Stata or R.
  • Excellent communication skills in English, including writing, conversing and presenting.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with cross-cultural teams.
  • Desire to help improve learning outcomes for learners at scale.
  • Willingness to travel frequently and flexibly, including in very rural areas.


VVOB core competencies:

  • Results and goal oriented
  • Lifelong learning and improvement
  • Cooperation within a team and with other stakeholders


Function specific competencies:

  • Reliability
  • Strong communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Strong organizing skills
  • 360° empathy
  • Proactivity and work with minimum supervision


Experience with working in the education sector in Zambia.

Application process - how to apply?

Interested candidates should send their CV and motivational letter by email to - the subject line of your email should read as follows:


All applications that do not have this subject line will not be considered. 

Deadline: Wednesday 18th November 2020 - 17:00 Central African Time (CAT).

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.