ESSA Job offer: Research Manager (East Africa)

Job type: Full time - Twelve (12) months, from July 2021
Location: Kenya or Uganda (other countries in East Africa considered)
Salary: Competitive - dependent on experience
Hours of work: Full time - 35 hours per week
Travel: 25%
Reporting to: Director of Research and Insight
Direct Reports: None


ESSA Job offer: Research Manager (East Africa)

Students in SSA

Job details

Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) is a charity improving education in sub-Saharan Africa so that young people achieve their ambitions and strengthen society.  

We support university and college leaders, employers, policymakers, and young people to turn evidence into practical solutions and maximize resources. By working together, we improve education policies and delivery. 

Our goal is to increase access to university or college, improve the quality of education, and enable young people to transition into work. 

This will support more than 1.4 million current students at over 500 universities and colleges in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia to achieve their ambitions, and create more opportunities for the millions that will follow. 

Our values are at the heart of everything we do, and they are:

  • Evidence-driven: We are driven by data and evidence to find what works best, building an evidence alliance for education in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Solutions-focused: We seek the highest impact for young people and educators in sub-Saharan Africa with the cost-effective funds we invest.

  • Strengthening Trust: We strive to create supportive environments, building trust with the communities we work with.

  • Always learning: Everyone’s opinion is valuable; we develop solutions through teamwork.

The Research Manager (East Africa) role is a new and important position within the ESSA team.

The successful applicant will design and conduct cutting-edge research in sub-Saharan Africa generally, but with a particular focus on tertiary education in the East African Community.

Areas of research interest will include understanding the impact of inadequate faculty to student ratios on the quality of education, as well as understanding the link between tertiary education and young people’s ability to find decent employment post-education.

The role holder will develop key professional relationships with a range of research/project implementation partners, policymakers, and practitioners in this region and beyond. (S)he will provide these stakeholders with relevant data and insight to make evidence-based decisions and will help to publicise ESSA’s achievements extensively.

Main Responsibilities

  • Lead and/or support the development and management of new and ongoing tertiary education research projects at ESSA, using primary and secondary research methods, quantitative and qualitative analyses, etc. Also conduct focus group discussions, interviews, surveys, etc., to enrich ESSA’s research. Analyse research findings to generate new insights for solving problems, especially given the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning in East Africa.

  • Provide project management function for research projects, including ensuring that monitoring, evaluation and learning is firmly embedded and relevant metrics captured.

  • Keep track of trends in tertiary education research in East Africa, identify and build a network of key stakeholders such as national government officials, influencers, partners and funders that ESSA could engage with to increase use of our research evidence and impact, and to leverage additional funding.

  • Provide expertise to help shape how ESSA could be most effective in closing the gap between research evidence and its translation into practice/impact for education and youth employment.

  • Collaborate with ESSA’s research team and other staff members (including the communications team, interns, volunteers, and external consultants), and with partner organisations in East Africa and beyond, to achieve ESSA’s vision and mission.

  • Organise or contribute to ESSA’s events such as webinars, conferences, and roundtable events, to seek external views, communicate ESSA’s work and increase its impact in and outside Africa.

  • Seek opportunities to represent ESSA and its ground-breaking work at external events.

Person Specification


  • Educated to Masters-level in a relevant discipline (e.g. education, economics or other social science, international development, or a related discipline).

  • Significant experience (>5 years) of conducting or coordinating research in an academic, government, industrial/commercial or non-profit organisation, ideally in a developing country.

  • Familiarity with research design, conducting primary and secondary research, quantitative and qualitative research, as well as survey design and implementation. Also, able to process, critically analyse and synthesize research data to capture evidence-based knowledge and insights.

  • A good understanding of how to apply monitoring, evaluation and learning in research projects.

  • Proven ability to generate and communicate important research data and evidence through information briefs, academic publications, planning tools, and reports for diverse audiences.

  • Experience of organising and/or participating in stakeholder consultations, conferences, workshops, and webinars, engaging with people at all levels from different backgrounds and with viewpoints.

  • Ability to build and manage work relationships internally, as well as with external agencies.

  • A team player who has cultural awareness/sensitivity; is committed to respecting and valuing equality, diversity, and inclusion, and understands how these apply to their own area of work.

  • Ability to work independently with accuracy, using own initiative and under minimal supervision.

  • Excellent attention to detail, commitment to high standards and ability to meet tight deadlines.

  • Proactive, efficient, creative, collaborative, ethical, entrepreneurial and a problem-solver.

  • Self-motivated, strong interpersonal, organisational, project/stakeholder/people management.

  • Computer literate, including familiarity with information databases and Microsoft Office suite.


  • Knowledge of research in international development, particularly tertiary education in Africa.

  • Educated to PhD level in a relevant discipline (see above).

  • Resident in sub-Saharan Africa and able to work in an internationally dispersed team.

  • Experience of working in a cross-functional team, or with a large employer of youth in Africa.

  • French speaking

Equality & Diversity

The importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) underpins our mission and values at ESSA. We prioritise inclusion and celebrate the breadth of knowledge and experience working across different cultures brings to the organisation.

EDI at ESSA is embodied in the current composition of our Board of Trustees and our workforce, which strongly reflects the communities we work in, and we actively encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and cultures.


To apply please complete the form by clicking on the linkPlease ensure that your CV and cover letter are saved using your given name and surname.  For example, Samuel.Nyarko_C.V

The closing date for applications is the 28th May 2021 at 1700hrs GMT.

You can also download a PDF file of the job description:

 Research Manager (East Africa) Job Description (PDF)