National Research Specialist at Room to Read

By | December 11, 2019

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 Board (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 reading and writing skills so that they can succeed in future schooling and, later, in the modern workplace. Room to Read is a partner with Chemonics International implementing the Soma Umenye Project.

Position Overview:

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, policymakers, 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 the 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 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.

Duties & Responsibilities:

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 GoR Early Grade Reading Research Agenda workshops 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 Soma Umenye 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 practice team to make the 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.


  • 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 the 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 a commitment to meeting challenging deadlines
  • Rwanda nationality
  • Fluency Kinyarwanda and English

Location(s) Rwanda

To be successful at Room to Read, you will also: 

  • Have a passion for our mission and a strong desire to impact a dynamic nonprofit organization
  • Be a proactive and innovative thinker who achieves results and creates positive change
  • Have a very high level of personal and professional integrity and trustworthiness
  • Embrace diversity and a commitment to collaboration
  • Thrive in a fast-paced and fun environment

Room to Read is proud to be an equal opportunity employer committed to identifying and developing the skills and leadership of people from diverse backgrounds. EOE/M/F/Vet/Disabled

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