Mott MacDonald,Research Specialist Jobs Vacancy

Estimated Level of Effort:               Full-time
Estimated Dates:                               March 2018 – May 2021
Assignment Location:                       Based in Kigali, Rwanda – possible travel in-country
Project Summary
Soma Umenye is a five-year USAID-funded activity that aims to improve reading outcomes in Kinyarwanda for at least 1
million children in public and government-aided schools in Rwanda. Covering all 30 districts of Rwanda and working in close collaboration with the Rwanda Education Boad (REB) and the Rwandan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), Soma Umenye will contribute to Rwanda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and the Government of Rwanda’s national development priority of ensuring that Rwandan primary-grade students acquire the fundamental competency of literacy so that they can succeed in future schooling and, later, in the modern workplace.
Project Goals
Soma Umenye aims to achieve the following two goals:
  • To improve reading outcomes in Kinyarwanda for at least 1 million children (unique direct beneficiaries) in public and government-aided schools in Rwanda by the end of P3; and
  • To ensure that at least 70 percent of P1-P3 students can read grade-level text with fluency and comprehension.
To achieve the above goals, it requires close collaboration with all education stakeholders under the technical leadership of MINEDUC and REB.
The Research Specialist will lead on Sub-IR 2.3: Research-Based Policies and Curricula in Support of Early Grade Reading Instruction Implemented IR 2: Systemic Capacity for Early Grade Reading Instruction Improved of the Soma Umenye (SU) Project in Rwanda, ensuring timely and effective delivery of these activities.  This full-time staff member is responsible for facilitating periodic updates of the GoR Early Grade Reading Research Agenda, coordinating and supporting Soma Umenye’s early grade reading research activities, and convening researchers, policy makers, and practitioners to advance evidence-based decision making for early grade reading programs and policies in Rwanda and the region.
The Research Specialist will carry out the following functions:  1) coordinate and oversee the implementation of a GoR Early Grade Reading Research Agenda; 2) support commissioning and management of research; 3) foster capacity building in early grade reading research in Rwanda; and 4) promote the use of evidence in early grade reading policy and practice.  All of these activities will be undertaken in close collaboration with the REB and MINEDUC and other key stakeholders in Rwanda.
The Research Specialist will provide technical support in the procurement and management of anticipated studies being managed by Chemonics, as part of the Soma Umenye partnership. This support includes preparation of terms of references and scopes of work, coordination of the technical evaluation of proposals, and technical oversight of research studies commissioned by Chemonics from inception to final implementation. The Research Specialist will also provide input into the design of other Soma Umenye partner research activities.
The Research Specialist will work with URCE, MINEDUC, REB and other research institutions to identify capacity building needs in early grade reading research and coordinate initiatives to build expertise in researchers involved in Soma Umenye-sponsored research studies and upcoming scholars interested in the field.
The Research Specialist will define and oversee a strategy to strengthen coordination among the between the research, policy, and practice communities focused on early grade reading in Rwanda. The research coordinator will support REB and SU partners in integrating early grade research findings into educational practices, materials and guides, policy briefs and other related products.  
The Research Specialist, with support from a pool of research specialists and the Senior System Strengthening Specialist, will carry out specific tasks within the following areas:
  • Organize an annual GoR Early Grade Reading Research Agenda workshop to review and update the Agenda based on evolving program and program priorities and emerging evidence.
  • Assist REB to validate and disseminate the research agenda at forums and workshops involving SU partners, research institutions, national/regional MEN representatives, and other agencies working on early grade reading.
  • Define and oversee a strategy to enhance coordination, knowledge sharing and collaboration among Soma Umenye partners and early grade reading research stakeholders in Rwanda.
  • Provide technical support to the administrative team in developing Request for Proposals and evaluation of proposals.
  • In collaboration with other Soma Umenye team members, oversee the management, implementation and quality assurance of research studies being managed by Chemonics under the Soma Umenye partnership. Provide input into research-related activities and studies being managed by other Soma Umenye partners (e.g., Cambridge Education, Room to Read).
  • Support capacity building for national research institutions by organizing workshops and forums and other initiatives.
  • Liaise with the Policy Specialist and practice team to make best use of research findings to inform practice, including in the development and improvement of teaching and learning materials and training programs and policy- and systems strengthening related efforts.
  • Develop, plan, coordinate and facilitate seminars, forums, roundtables and other events on early grade reading research-related themes.
Qualifications and Experience:
  • A degree in a relevant field, such as education, social sciences, or international development;
  • At least 5 years’ experience in the education sector; a focus on early grade reading would be an asset;
  • Extensive work experience in research, data collection and analysis;
  • Knowledge of the Rwandan education system;
  • Knowledge of the current state of early grade reading research and measurement strategies would be an asset;
  • Experience working with government counterparts to advance development outcomes;
  • Knowledge of strategies for institutional and individual capacity building would be an asset;
  • Strong organizational abilities including strong team management abilities;
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and networking skills;
  • Strong computer skills in MS Office;
  • Strong project management skills;
  • Demonstrable attention to detail and accuracy;
  • Clear thinking and effective decision making, ability to retain composure under pressure;
  • Flexible approach with commitment to meeting challenging deadlines
Cover letters should be no longer than 1 typed page and should fully speak to the qualification and competencies requested for this position.