Knowledge and Research Director


Job Title: Knowledge and Research Director

Location: Kampala, Uganda / Accra, Ghana / London, UK

Reporting to: Director

Direct Reports: Initially none

Salary: Competitive


To lead ESSA’s development, management and communication of digital and non-digital knowledge and network resources on Tertiary Education in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular emphasis on the link of Tertiary Education and the labour-markets. Building a knowledge hub with a proactive approach to capitalise on knowledge so that key information is available to support investment and decision making across the continent. To provide support and guidance to ESSA programmes and partners with research activities.

The Education Commission report, “The Learning Generation” concluded that the education sector should invest in a “global ‘ecosystem’ for education that will promote cross-border learning and sharing of innovations and grow the capacity of leaders and practitioners.” ESSA will contribute to this vision and build on the core themes of the Commission’s recently developed Knowledge Sharing Framework (2018) that highlights knowledge sharing and networks as critical to achieve SDG 4.

There is lack of human and systemic network infrastructure to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, best practices and effective innovations across borders. ESSA will contribute to closing this gap by collating and curating the existing knowledge, (co)creating what is missing and communicating in an appropriate way so that a maximum of stakeholders can capitalise on these resources.

Building upon ESSA's existing resources and relationships the Knowledge and Research Director will design and implement ESSA’s contribution to the sharing of knowledge and the accessibility of networks in Tertiary Education in sub-Saharan Africa, building on what ESSA has already put in place.

To Apply

Please submit your CV and a Supporting Statement (no more than two sides of A4) at the following link:

ESSA is committed to diversity in its workforce, and welcome applications regardless of sex, gender, race, age, sexuality, belief or disability.      


If you wish to have an informal discussion about this opportunity, please contact Fiona Wansborough at or Eva Farina at

Recruitment Timetable

Deadline for applications:  14 May  2019           

Interviews with Prospectus: 20 – 24 May  2019  

First Panel Interviews: 17 June 2019

Final Interviews: 4 July 2019

Si vous souhaitez télécharger la description de poste en français, cliquez ici

Screenshot 2019-04-12 at 09.51.43.jpg

Key Responsibilities

  • Explore, develop and formulate ESSA’s contribution to collate, create and communicate useful and usable knowledge on Tertiary Education in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on education and work, as well as to capitalise on it for policy and practice.

  • Identify and map existing Tertiary Education digital and non-digital knowledge repositories and networks, analysing their effectiveness to transfer knowledge between stakeholders. Contributions and attempts to closing the gap between research and policy/practice of education are of particular interest

  • Shape, on the basis of this comparator analysis, how ESSA can be most impactful; what knowledge is required, how is it made available and who are target audiences

  • Develop and implement knowledge transfer plans, effective learning management systems and solid information architecture design at the institutional Tertiary Education level.

  • Design and manage a pilot ‘Knowledge Hub’ that has potential for scale. This will be made  available to public and private investors in order to develop a better understanding of the field and harness evidence to inform their decision-making

  • Collaborate with national governments and other partners to leverage their funding for both the development and integration of knowledge (public goods) into national Tertiary Education systems

  • Work with the ESSA team to capitalize on the knowledge ESSA has already generated. Design, build and manage networks of global communities that can benefit the exchange of knowledge and collaboration to support Tertiary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Providing guidance and support to the ESSA team and partner institutions to understand the spaces they operate in

  • Build ESSA’s network of research institutions and researchers, in Africa and beyond

  • Lead on ESSA’s current and future programmes that aim to support the visibility and accessibility of African researchers and research on education (please consult the African Education Research Database which has been created in cooperation with the REAL Centre at University of Cambridge) 
    Co-Design and manage other research and knowledge related ESSA initiatives to come

  • Support the development and implementation of our monitoring, learning and evaluation plan

Screenshot 2019-04-12 at 09.51.43.jpg




  • Master’s degree in Education, Public Health, Public Policy, International Development, Consultancy or other relevant field required. PhD highly desirable.



  • Considerable experience in knowledge and networks management (e.g. in education, business, public health or other relevant fields)

  • Experience of leading or overseeing research and analytical functions in academic or non-academic institutions (such as advisory or strategy firms)

  • Experience in managing research and other projects highly desirable

  • Has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, and can evidence deep knowledge of Tertiary Education in at least one country

  • Knowledge of labour-markets in Africa, and the specific links to education/professional training highly desirable


Screenshot 2019-04-12 at 09.51.43.jpg


Technical skills:

  • Blends academic and practical experience and understanding of how to apply and share knowledge, such as in philanthropic organisations

  • Strong interest in Africa, and in education and the role it plays in development

  • Strong digital understanding and, if possible, experience with the creation and/or the management of online resources, in other words: digitally savvy.

  • Understanding of knowledge transfer plans and procedures, effective learning management systems and solid information architecture design

  • Proven track record in qualitative research

  • Experience in creating, managing and sustaining networks

  • Excellent communication skills, diplomatic and credible with senior leaders.  Intellectually rigorous and thrives with ambiguity


Leadership and management:

  • Ensures that initiatives and priorities effectively deliver objectives and are aligned with ESSA’s strategic priorities

  • Entrepreneurial approach, with the ability to work remotely and succeed in a start-up and globally dispersed working environment 

  • Displays resilient and motivational leadership across ESSA

  • Collaborates closely with colleagues across all areas of ESSA, contributing essentially to strengthen the organisation.

  • Readiness and ability to manage a growing team, as soon as the resourcing situation allows.

  • Leads by example, acting as a role model for integrity and fairness, and promoting a culture of opportunity, collaboration, equality and diversity

  • Promotes the sharing of expertise and supports learning opportunities across ESSA


  • Makes sound and timely decisions based on an analysis of relevant information

  • Acts proactively and thinks strategically to anticipate ESSAs needs

  • Delivers innovative solutions to complex problems

  • Demonstrates excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills

  • Credible when communicating decisions and managing others’ expectations

  • Able to challenge and influence, building and maintaining effective relationships within and outside ESSA

  • Applies professional and ethical judgement, taking responsibility for their own performance.

  • Willingness and ability to travel internationally.


  • Fluent written and spoken English is essential.  Working knowledge of French highly desirable.