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5 Dec 2020

Research and Learning Lead

Job Description

Montrose is an international development project management and consultancy company providing support to clients operating in the developing world. Specialised in the sectors of health, education, rural livelihoods and private sector development, our clients include bilateral and multilateral development agencies, the private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other development stakeholders.


Background Montrose is part of the consortium led by Mott MacDonald, and also comprising BBC Media Action, Windle Trust, and Leonard Cheshire, is implementing the second phase of the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS 2) programme between 2019 and 2024. GESS 2, which is part of DFID South Sudan’s Essential Services Team portfolio, builds on the success of GESS 1 (2013-18). The overall goal of GESS 2 is to transform the life chances of a generation of South Sudanese children (particularly but not exclusively girls) through education, while stabilising priority areas of the education sector and concurrently seeking to deliver improved quality education. At outcome level, the programme will seek to improve girls’ educational attainment from that already achieved during GESS 1; building further gains on school enrolment, reducing barriers to education, and promoting equity in access for all children.

Therefore, the GESS 2 programme outputs include

  •  Output 1) Community Mobilisation and Behavioural Change – communication and radio programmes informing over 2.5million people of the benefits of education to girls and disabled children. Active twitter and blog accounts, in addition to holding high-profile events in the UK and South Sudan. Community and school-based groups to tackle the root cause of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
  •  Output 2) Cash transfers to girls, conditional upon a girl’s enrolment and attendance in school. All girls from Primary 5- 8 and Secondary 1- 4 will be targeted over the lifetime of GESS 2. The supplier will be required to rigorously monitor girls who have already been validated to receive Cash Transfers during the early stages of the programme.
  •  Output 3) Capitation grants to schools: All not-for-profit schools in South Sudan which are able to provide budgets and accountability will receive capitation grants. Capitation grant funding made available by DFID (through GESS 2) will be used to pay secondary schools, and capitation grant funding made available by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS)) will be used to pay primary schools. GESS 2 will reach a minimum of 4,100 unique primary schools and 350 unique secondary schools with capitation grants.
  •  Output 4) Learning Groups/Quality of Education & Resilience – Support to teachers and education managers to improve learning quality and pupil attainment. This is divided into four sub-components including:
    •  Teacher professional development (including training, and SLPs)
    •  Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), including emphasis on functional literacy, numeracy, and life skills
    •  School based girls mentoring programme
    •  School governance improvement, including training and support to national, state, country, and payam MoGEI officials, and SMCs/PTAs
  •  Output 5) Building a knowledge base for support to girls’ education, including use of the Schools’ Attendance Monitoring System (SAMS), with daily reporting of teacher and pupil attendance by (wherever possible) text messages from mobile phones (SMS) (complementary to the GRSS Education Management Information System [EMIS), and further academic research into the barriers and solutions to girls and disabled children’s education in South Sudan.

All outputs integrate the cross-cutting themes of Disability, Gender, Safeguarding, Conflict Sensitivity and Value for Money (VfM) in their delivery. Whilst the core management consortium of GESS2 comprises Mott MacDonald, BBC Media Action, Leonard Cheshire, Windle Trust, and Montrose, the delivery of services on the ground across South Sudan will be carried out by subcontracted implementing partner NGOs in each of the 10 formers states. These organisations will be in place before the end of 2019 and are referred to as the ‘Regional Anchors’. They have a ToR which comprises elements of all five GESS2 outputs listed above, and lead in delivery of all five outputs at sub-national level.

Overview of Montroses Scope of work for the Client

Montrose leads in the delivery of Output 5 and contributes to the delivery of Output 4. The following tasks have been identified for this technical engagement under each of these outputs in the phase shown below.

Phase 2 – Implementation phase (August 2019-March 2024)

This phase will span a duration of 4 years and 10 months and will comprise two contractual break points scheduled 12 months and 36 months after the contract start date to review implementation phase performance.

During the implementation phase, Montrose shall contribute and or be responsible for producing the following deliverables per output.

Output 5 specific deliverables – timelines to be agreed with Mott MacDonald:

  • Work with the Director for Research in the Directorate of Planning and Budgeting to strengthen capacity in MoGEI for evidence-based policy formulation and resource allocation
  • Establish a research advisory group from the consortium, government, and local and international academic institutions to draw in multi-disciplinary expertise and country knowledge. Specifically, the consultant is to work with but is not limited to working with Knowledge, Evaluation, Research and Learning (KERL) Technical Working Group (TWG) and temporary taskforce teams[1]. The KERL TWG will have three standing sub-technical working groups for focused meetings and engagement whose members will be drawn based on interests and technical expertise. The sub WGs shall include: (1) Data and Statistics Technical Working Group; (2) Research Technical Working Group; and (3) Learning Outcomes Assessments Technical Working Group. Taskforce teams
  • Share research findings in an attractive and accessible format
  • Conduct two evaluation studies. A midline in Year 3 and an endline study in Year 5 of the project
  • Conduct annual learning assessments. GESS 1 endline findings are to be used as the GESS 2 baseline values.
  • Complete 17 qualitative or mixed methods research studies that are to be determined and further refined based on consultations with the GESS 2 Research Advisory Group. During preliminary consultations at the GESS 2 programme opening meeting, Montrose proposed the following:
    •  Two research studies will be conducted by BBC Media Action in the form of photovoice research studies with communities to help understand the impact of GESS 2 activities.
    •  Three research studies on disability inclusion, including a scoping study focusing on the current level of inclusion of children with disabilities in education, will be conducted by Leonard Cheshire. However, this is yet to be confirmed.
    •  12 research studies will potentially cover topics such as an operational analysis of the Schools’ Attendance Monitoring system (SAMS); and qualitative studies on the effectiveness of GESS 2 activities on the quality learning, for instance use of teaching and learning materials (TLMs), teacher-student time on task, and effectiveness of ALP in improving the literacy of students, among other things. A research coordination matrix was developed following consultations from each output lead. This shall guide the main research agenda for the programme.

All research should be informed by education sector priorities.

Output 4 specific deliverables – as agreed with Mott MacDonald:

  • Contribute to developing low cost teaching materials and scripted lesson plans for upper primary (P5 to P8) and secondary (S1 to S4) under the Teacher Professional Development component of this output. Target is 2,500 teachers.
  • Support the refining and rolling out of the ALP and potentially proposing the development of two types of ALP for South Sudan – a ‘normal curriculum’, for delivery in existing schools as evening classes (as per current policy), and a ‘pastoralist curriculum’, specifically tailored to nomadic/pastoralist communities, as is used in Karamoja in Uganda, for example. Target is 50,000 learners in total.
  • Contribute to the Girls’ mentoring programme targeting 70,000 learners. A barrier encountered was lack of female teachers in many schools, and therefore a lack of suitable mentors. If required, Montrose shall offer disability inclusion expertise drawn from its current evaluation work with the Girls’ Education Challenge project in Uganda that aim to improve the life chances of girls with disabilities (GWDs) in Kampala.

Montrose shall also contribute and or be responsible for producing the Forecast and Expenditure reports; Activity Reports, and the Risk Register on a monthly basis; Asset Register bi-annually; detailed progress reports both quarterly and annually; annual audit reports; quarterly VFM reports; and an Exit/Transition Strategy nine months before the end of programme.

Purpose of the Consultancy

The consultant will serve on a full-time basis as Research and Learning Lead as part of the team carrying out this consultancy. He/she will be responsible for providing long term technical assistance to the GESS 2 project primarily responsible for the strategic implementation of Output 5 deliverables in country. The position is full time in South Sudan.

Duty station: Juba, with frequent travel to various and remote locations in South Sudan.

Specific Roles and Responsibilities of the consultant

The following are the specific roles and responsibilities of the Consultant for each phase of the work:

Phase 2 – Implementation phase


  • Lead and coordinate the periodic meeting of the RAG in country, including sharing meeting notes with the RAG and wider GESS 2 team/consortium members.
  • Attend and where necessary coordinate relevant technical working group (TWG) meetings with MoGEI. These should include but are not limited to Basic and Secondary Education TWG, learning assessment TWG, Data and Statistics TWG, and Research, Monitoring and Evaluation TWG.
  • Plan and lead capacity building sessions on research and learning evaluation with MoGEI – particularly with the newly appointed Director for Research in the Directorate of Planning and Budgeting.
  • Contribute to the development of the GESS 2 periodic progress reports submitted on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual basis to DFID as assigned by Mott MacDonald contracted GESS 2 Team Leader. Final list of reports will be communicated later. It is expected that the consultant and KERL Technical lead shall play a bigger role in the development of the annual progress reports.
  •  As required, participate in other project monitoring activities such as field monitoring visits, trainings for Regional Anchors, and M&E training for GESS 2 project staff, among other duties

This task shall be implemented in close collaboration with other members of the Output 5 team, with whom the consultant will share an office, and who are contracted by GESS2 lead organisation, Mott MacDonald.


  • Liaise with MoGEI Director for Research in the Directorate of Planning and Budgeting, RAG, the relevant TWG, and other GESS 2 output leads to ensure that the research is in line with MoGEI and education sector needs. This will also include collecting stakeholders’ inputs into research design and ensuring GESS 2 operational research is in line with MoGEI research agenda.
  • Based on the consultant’s country knowledge and various stakeholder inputs, develop research design for each of the research studies included in the coordination matrix[2] and ensure alignment to the South Sudanese context. The research designs shall be documented in an inception report.
    • The consultant and the KERL technical lead shall draft inception reports that include introduction, methodology/technical approach, ethical considerations, limitation to the study and risk management. All draft inception reports will be submitted to Montrose Senior Quality Assurance Adviser for review and approved by the research technical working group before the study can be carried out
    • Revise inception report based on comments from Senior Quality Assurance Adviser
  • Lead sampling for research studies, learning assessments and evaluation studies (using GESS2 beneficiary data as reported through SAMS).
    • Share data sets with KERL technical lead and Montrose project team in Kampala
    • Facilitate the random sampling of girls and schools to be followed during the longitudinal and cross-sectional studies
    • Sensitise other output leads of the benefit and need to use girls and schools that are part of the sample as participants for their independent research studies. This workshop or meeting should also include awareness on attribution and how this can be avoided
  • Ensure that MoGEI is aware of all research studies and evaluation studies being carried out under Output 5. This will include, where possible, presenting research study inception reports for all research studies to relevant MoGEI department to collect their input. The research studies shall include the 17 independent research studies[3], two evaluation studies, and five annual learning assessments.
  • Where possible, lead research studies conducted under output 5, including managing/ supervising data collection
    • Coordinate logistics for research studies including enumerator mobilisation, contracting, enumerator trainings, flights, management of enumerators team leads, obtaining relevant letters of permissions, data collection plans etc. This will be done in collaboration with the Montrose project team and enumerator chief team leader
    • Coordinate data collection exercises for 12 independent research studies conducted by Montrose under Output 5
    • In collaboration with enumerator chief team leader and Montrose GESS 2 Project Manager for, coordinate payment of enumerators subsequent to successful completion of field work.
  • Data analysis and report writing
    • Conduct data analysis of data collected, where possible. If data analysis is done by an external data analysist, then the consultant must quality assure all analysis that is submitted prior to it being used in the report
    • Lead the writing of assigned research study reports and submit reports to Montrose GESS 2 project Manager for formatting and submission to the KERL Technical Lead and or the Senior Quality Assurance Adviser for review
    • Contribute to writing sections of research study reports where necessary and submit sections to the KERL Technical lead or other STTA technical lead for compilation and submission to Montrose GESS 2 project manager and the Senior Quality Assurance Adviser for review
    • Review study reports and or sections of study reports based on comments from Senior Quality Assurance Adviser, KERL lead or other STTA technical lead
  • In collaboration with the Mott MacDonald GESS 2 project manager, liaise with company specific M&E or research teams to ensure that research studies conducted by Leonard Cheshire and BBC Media Action are conducted in country successfully and the necessary reports are shared with Montrose project team or directly to GESS 2 Project Manager, as advised, for review. It is expected that these teams shall have their own enumerator teams and lead their own data collection, however, this will have to be confirmed
  • Review study designs from consortium partners and STTA, ensure agreed research protocol and quality standards are followed


  • In collaboration with the relevant in-country stakeholders particularly the GESS 2 Team Leader, from Mott MacDonald, coordinate the dissemination of any research findings within the GESS 2 team and among other stakeholders.
    • Ensure research findings are presented in a user-friendly and easy to read format. Coordinate with Montrose GESS 2 Project Manager and GESS 2 Communications Manager to ensure appropriate branding applies
    • Identify stakeholders that would best benefit from research findings and organise dissemination meetings
    • Participate in making presentations to consortium members and or other stakeholders
    • Any other duties that evolve as the programme progresses.

Relationship with the team

  • The Research and Learning Lead will be responsible for ensuring that all material produced as a part of this consultancy is up to the highest technical standard and quality.
  • The Consultant will submit all deliverables to the Montrose GESS 2 Project Manager in accordance with the internal deadlines set in the deliverables section below or as communicated but the team.
  • The Consultant will liaise with KERL Technical Lead, and Montrose GESS 2 Project Manager, on any other technical issues.
  • The Consultant will liaise with GESS 2 Team Leader, on any other technical issues in-country.


The following deliverables will be submitted under this project:

  • Monthly and Quarterly Research and Learning, and or Activity progress reports.
  • Coordinated and attended TWG and RAG meetings
  • Present research coordination matrix and research study designs to TWG
  • Successfully completed field work for 17 research studies
  • Successfully completed field work for 2 programme evaluation studies
  • Successfully completed field work for 5 annual learning assessments
  • Draft sections of 12 research study, 2 programme evaluation studies and 5 annual learning assessments reports
  • Finalise sections of 12 research study reports, 2 programme evaluation studies and 5 annual learning assessments reports
  • Capacity building sessions with MoGEI and GESS 2 in country team where necessary
  • 3 research study reports from or delivered by Leonard Cheshire
  • 2 photovoice research study reports from or delivered BBC Media Action

Required skills and experience

The consultant must have:

  • Proven experience in providing technical assistance to operational research in education for complex environments;
  • Knowledge and experience working in South Sudan education sector or other fragile and conflict affected contexts;
  • Thorough familiarity with principles and current approaches to monitoring, evaluation and research methodologies using both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Understanding of donor expectations and trends for monitoring, evaluation, research and learning
  • Demonstrated ability to transfer knowledge to diverse audiences through training, mentoring, and other formal and non-formal methods
  • Excellent analytical and computer skills
  • Experience with statistical software and educations management information systems
  • Strong communication skills and cultural awareness
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines and work under pressure
  • Excellent written English and ability to lead research report writing, with exceptional attention to detail

In addition, the consultant is expected to have:

  • A degree in the related field such as M&E, Statistics, Education, Operations Research, Quantitative Analysis etc.
  • 10 years’ experience in education research and learning in a development context including the development of M&E frameworks, plans, and research strategies
  • A high degree of initiative, flexibility and creativity
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Fluency in English, knowledge of simple Arabic will be an asset

How to Apply

If you meet the above qualifications and are interested in this opportunity, please submit your application Here by the 31 December 2020. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until a suitable candidate is identified.

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[1] From time to time, Taskforce Teams with limited timeframe will be formed to perform a particular task as agreed by the members and endorsed by decision making authorities

[2] This is an excel spreadsheet that was developed during the inception phase as a compilation of all possible research studies under this each element of GESS 2.

[3] 5 of the studies will be led by Leonard Cheshire, 2 studies will be conducted by BBC Media Action while 12 research studies shall be conducted by Montrose.

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