Research Consultant: Second Early Grade Reading Programme, Pretoria, South Africa, 12 months (South African nationals only)

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. 

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. 

And we never give up. 

For every child, EDUCATION. 

Education UNICEF South Africa – committed to ensuring quality learning for every child.

It is no exaggeration to say that the most effective way to bring about meaningful socio-economic transformation in South Africa is to improve the teaching and learning of literacy in the early grades, specifically in schools serving historically disadvantaged communities. As such, this has been a leading priority for UNICEF, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and other partners in the Early Grade Reading Programmes (EGRP).

There have been several initiatives and efforts to contribute to reading improvements including material development, advocacy, and collaborations. However, there is growing recognition that teachers need support in implementing the curriculum, especially when it comes to teaching reading in the early grades. A large body of evidence suggests that teachers play a critical role-perhaps the most critical- in shaping how much a child learns in a year and his/her future productivity. Yet, across the world, teacher quality is highly variable.

South Africa (SA) has also been conducting similar research on effective teacher support interventions. The DBE has led 10 years of Early Grade Reading Studies (EGRS) in 5 randomised control trials (RCTs). Structured Learning Programmes with lesson plans, integrated reading material and various coaching models have been developed and tested. The main lesson is that to improve literacy levels, SA should invest in teachers with ongoing intensive support. This is because one-on-one coaching for teachers has proved to be part of the most effective reading intervention. Mechanisms for improving implementation of the curriculum consist of daily lesson plans, integrated home language reading materials, and alternative forms of professional development support (on-site coaching, virtual coaching, just-in-time training).

Based on the EGRS studies, a home language intervention in the Foundation Phase is recommended, as it will have a positive impact on home language and English as First Additional language (EFAL) This current scale-up is the Second Early Grade Reading Programme (EGRP II). The two-year intervention will roll out high-quality teacher professional development support across Grades 1 to 3 in all eligible Setswana Home Language non-fee paying monograde and multigrade primary schools of the Frances Baard and John Taolo Gaetsewe districts in Northern Cape from January 2024 through to December 2025.

This full-time consultancy will contribute to the implementation of work plan priorities through direct technical support to the DBE. The consultancy will be based on a full-time basis with the DBE.

How can you make a difference? 

The purpose of this assignment is to provide technical and related support on the implementation and evaluation of the EGRP II across the Frances Baard and John Taolo Gaetsewe districts in Northern Cape. The consultant will be embedded at the DBE and supervised by the UNICEF Education Manager.

The primary location for the consultant will be the DBE offices in Pretoria. However, there will be substantial traveling to the Northern Cape for administrative support, monitoring and implementation support.
AWPs to be covered:

  • To support and provide project management and monitoring: 50%
  • Support report writing and stakeholder communication: 15%
  • Undertake periodic data collection, cleaning, analysis and support of research and M&E: 15%
  • Assist in the overall scaling up of sectoral reading interventions and plans as required to support the DBE: 15%

Scope of work: 

1. Project facilitation and monitoring (30%)
With oversight from a Project Management Team, the Research Consultant will be responsible for coordination, and communication amongst all stakeholders in the project: Donors, the data collection agency, the implementing service provider, and the Provincial Education Department as well as schools where necessary. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Conducting routine monitoring and evaluation of project compliance and progress by gathering and compiling necessary field-level data, reviewing work plans and reports, conducting site visits, and maintaining ongoing contact with implementing partners, at least two days a month.
  • Conducting telephonic monitoring on key aspects of the intervention including coaching.
  • Supporting stakeholder engagement such as drafting letters and completing calls between stakeholders, e.g. from DBE to provincial education departments, or to school principals.
  • Facilitate and support capacity building e.g. inception workshops, and trainings with stakeholders and service providers Supporting contractual obligations between various stakeholders and service providers and advising the Project Management Team of any arising issues to be aware of.

2. Admin and communication (15%)
The Research Consultant will be responsible for project administration, supporting the drafting of project progress reports to donors, partners and the Project Management Team to satisfy each organisations particular reporting requirements.
Responsibilities in this area will include:

  • Arranging logistics and administration of project management meetings, steering committee meetings, and other meetings with stakeholders.
  • Arranging logistics and administration of trips to project sites (schools and training venues) to monitor project activities, about 2 days a month.
  • Assisting with applications for funding proposal conceptualization.
  • Consolidate data and information for drafting progress reports, partners, Project Management Team and contribute to the National Structures (Steering Committees and Task Teams).
  • Compiling documents, data and any other information needed to draft reports.
  • Planning and organizing activities for fieldwork: including scheduling, booking accommodation and car hire, arranging contracts and payments to fieldworkers.
  • Asset record keeping and ensuring all documentation is filed correctly and timeously.
  • Support the communication plan on various components of the work including drafting pamphlets and other promotional content, developing and updating the DBE website on the project; and initiating and participating in advocacy efforts with various campaigns.
  • Support the planning of the EGR Indaba.

3. Research, data cleaning and analysis (35%)
The implementation design builds on previous EGRS studies however a new area on an integrated multigrade intervention with coaching is part of the innovations in EGRP II. The Research Assocaite will be expected to conduct research on this to equip the PMT to provide appropriate oversight on this. The illustrative tasks include:

  • Producing a concept note on the range of multigrade education approaches, successes and challenges appropriate for a developing country context.
  • Identifying indicators and monitoring data sources appropriate for multigrade schooling. Then track and report on these periodically.
  • Producing a broader report on multigrade schooling in South Africa based on analysing administrative data as well as lessons from EGRP II.
  • Conducting a review of the information uploaded on the revised app for EGRP II with a particular focus on the multigrade lesson plans.
  • Analysing tablet usage data from teachers and producing an annual report.

In addition, the evaluation side of the project will generate a considerable amount of learner performance data and background information about schools, teachers and parents. This will inform the research and evaluation component of the project. The DBE in collaboration with external researchers is responsible for the data analysis and impact evaluation reports. However, support is required with the data cleaning and analysis from the project administrator.
Illustrative examples of tasks include:

  • Transferring data between statistical packages, such as Microsoft Excel, STATA and SPSS
  • Deriving new variables, such as reading test scores
  • Conducting data integrity checks, e.g. investigating patterns indicating fieldworker fraud
  • Analysis of data, ranging from descriptive analysis to running multivariate regression
  • Preparing data and user manuals for public release of the data
  • Investigating various platforms and formats for the public release of the project data
  • Contribute to writing the research reports on data collected from the project

4. Support the scale up of sectoral reading interventions and plans (20%)
The EGRP II is part of the DBE’s broader sectoral reading strategy and plans. Current efforts are underway to update a sector reading plan for 2023-2024. The consultant is expected to contribute to this in several ways. Illustrative tasks include:

  • Support the drafting an implementation and scale-up plan for full implementation of EGRP across all languages in Northern Cape.
  • Replicating and extending scale-up implementation plans and budgets for national implementation across multiple languages.
  • Supporting a lesson plan and LTSM review process for the Foundation Phase. This includes conducting an initial lesson plan mapping.
  • Conducting a mapping of literacy interventions nationally.

Tasks and Deliverables: 




Project Facilitation and Monitoring

  • Liaising with implementation and evaluation service providers to ensure programme fidelity
  • Reporting on trainings and other monitoring
  • Supporting stakeholder engagement and meetings
  • Donor related financial reporting

Training and Attendance Reports, Minutes

Quarterly, as and when needed



Research, data cleaning and analysis

  • Support the mapping of schools
  • Support the analysis of the tablet usage
  • Support the analysis of the multigrade lesson plans
  • Analyse the baseline report
  • Analyse the endline report
  • School Mapping report
  • Multigrade lesson plan mapping report and presentation
  • Concept note on multigrade schools
  • Tablet usage analysis
  • Reading and analysis of baseline and endline reports

Ongoing 2024-2025


Twice a year

Admin and communication

  • Compile meeting minutes for the Project Management Team, Steering Committee and Reference Group meetings
  • School and training visits
  • Record keeping
  • Communication plan draft and communication pieces
  • Support all programme communication
  • Plan Early Grade Reading Indaba to present results
  • Drafting progress reports to key stakeholders
  • Assist with applications for funding
  • Meeting minutes for Project Management Team, Steering Committee and Reference group meetings
  • Event and travel
  • Training reports
  • Updated records
  • Executed communication plan and communication pieces presented when needed
  • Early Grade Reading Indaba event reports
  • Progress reports to key stakeholders
  • Submitted funding applications



30x meeting minutes

30x visits

30x trainings

3 x communication pieces

2x Indaba

4x progress reports

Support the Scaling up sectoral reading

Support LTSM and Lesson plan reviews


3x reviews

Support the evaluation of the intervention

Contributions to evaluation questions and quality assurance of training and fieldwork


Deliverable: report

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have… 

  • A university degree in Economics, Linguistics or Education, Public Administration, Development, or related fields
  • A minimum of five years of relevant professional experience in 
    • Linguistics, education, public admin, development of any other related discipline
    • Administration
    • Research
  • Writing samples / published work will be an added advantage
  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset
  • Additional skills and training
    • Project Management
    • A post-graduate qualification
  • Fluency in English is required
  • Knowledge of a local language (Setswana, Afrikaans) is considered an asset

For every Child, you demonstrate… 

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability, and Sustainability (CRITAS). 

To view our competency framework, please visit  here

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment. 

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check. 


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process. 

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws. 

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts. 

Advertised: 10 May 2024 South Africa Standard Time
Deadline: 20 May 2024 South Africa Standard Time

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