Become a Project Researcher


EPAfrica is constantly striving to improve the way that it works, and one way of doing so is through research into relevant topics, carried out by its volunteers. This is an exciting opportunity to perform original research in the field and to better understand how we can improve education in East Africa.

We are looking for enthusiastic individuals to join our research team! Researchers can be based in either Kenya or Uganda over the summer of 2020, or be desk-based in the UK, working to explore new challenges and key opportunities for EPAfrica.

2020 APPLICATIONS SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19

How to apply

Do you want to...

Shape how EPAfrica operates



Experience a new culture

Develop research skills

Boost your career

Volunteering with EPAfrica is a fantastic opportunity to experience Kenyan and Ugandan culture whilst making a significant impact on improving the quality of education in disadvantaged rural schools.

The Project Researcher Role

We are currently accepting research proposals for a number of areas and applicants are encouraged to submit their own research proposals. We are particularly interested in developing our knowledge based on our research priorities below, however applicants can suggest a variety of topics relating to EPAfrica's five main goals.

The focus of these positions will be on understanding our impact on-site, collecting new data but also working to build on our existing research and aid the Monitoring & Evaluation Workstreams.

What Will I Be Doing?

You will be based in a local town, living in a shared house with the Project Manager and Project Coordinators. You would take the lead in creating, developing and delivering your own research project, liaising with EPAfrica schools and other local schools / institutions and carrying out such activities as collecting data, conducting interviews, distributing questionnaires and/or holding focus groups.

Your work would be directed at identifying key challenges faced by EPAfrica, and to offer recommendations for how we can improve and expand. Previous research has focused on a range of topics, which have been used to improve how we conduct our volunteer training, rethink how we select schools, identify what project workers can focus on in their schools, as well as enhance our understanding of the areas in which we work.

Research can be undertaken as part of your university studies, but outcomes should be geared towards finding tangible solutions to questions relevant for EPAfrica. See below for details of our research priorities for Summer 2020. Once accepted you will develop your research project and complete your ethics approval form with the help of the EPAfrica research workstream lead.

Please contact our Research Manager Reuben (reuben.acheson@epafrica.org.uk) for more information or with any enquiries you may have. Please note that you will be asked to upload a short proposal along with the online application form. This should take the form of a one-page A4 document outlining what you propose to research, why it would be of relevance to EPAfrica and how you plan to carry out this research.

Why EPAfrica?

This is a challenge, not a holiday. We encourage critical reflection that drives the quality of our work - whilst remaining optimistic and willing to act. Project Researchers in particular have the opportunity to impact the way we do things

We empower our volunteers, providing them with real responsibility and a fantastic personal development opportunity. It’s a chance to experience a new culture and make great friends! EPAfrica is a rapidly expanding community of talented young people, with alumni working in sectors including investment banking, civil service, management consultancy, teaching and international development.

We are proud to be entirely volunteer-run, managed at every level by former Project Workers who remain inspired by our work.

 

 

The Experience

east-africa-where-we-work
Based in Mbarara, Kisii or Kakamega

living in a central volunteer house and undertaking research in rural East African communities

 

exploring questions that are central to how EPAfrica works

 engaging with EPAfrica's network of schools and communities

 

You will gain skills and experience while working in a rural community

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You will work and make friends with our enthusiastic partners in Africa

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Victoria, Project Worker, 2015

Research Themes

This year we have 6 research priorities. The extent to which these projects run will be dependant on specialist recruitment, PW interest and overall summer team capacity. Research proposals based on the following themes will be gladly received:

  1. Girl Friendly Toilets: Monitoring and Evaluation, Implementation, and Best Practice
  2. Technology for learning
  3. Nutrition in schools: Exploration of NGO partnerships and intervention design
  4. Global Education Standards & EPAfrica: Investigation of global standards and how they can be applied to EPAfrica context
  5. Menstrual Cup Interventions: Exploration of NGO partnership
  6. Post-secondary opportunities & entrepreneurship

The Commitment

You will spend up to a total of ten weeks in East Africa. Our project runs between late June and early September: there is an orientation week, then Project Workers spend eight weeks working in schools, with a holiday week in the middle. Your research project will be designed to fit with this schedule, although it may be shorter in duration, depending on the project.

You will submit a report tailored for EPAfrica (not a copy of a dissertation) in November 2020, and attend a debrief around this time in which you will have a chance to discuss the impacts of your findings.

With our support you will fundraise enough to cover the cost of flights, vaccinations, and visa for East Africa, your basic living costs, and a small contribution to the cost of our central volunteer house in-country.

Frequently Asked Questions

I already have ethics approval from my university – do I still need to get approval from EPAfrica?

Yes, even if your project has received ethics approval from another institution, we still need to make sure your project complies with our own ethical requirements. You will likely be able to use the materials from your university process – for example any consent forms – and you should hand in your proof of university ethics approval to our ethics committee, along with your EPAfrica ethics approval form.

Can I use my time with EPAfrica to do my own / dissertation research?

EPAfrica is happy to support research in East Africa that is relevant to our mission. You should discuss your idea with our Research Workstream Lead in order to determine whether it is something EPAfrica would be able to support, and you may need to make sure your produce an output that EPAfrica can use – an academic thesis is usually not useful for us; rather we are looking for recommendations for how we can improve our work.

If you intend to do any research before, during or after your time volunteering with EPAfrica in or around the areas that we work please contact us in order that we can establish if your work will need ethical approval. If your research involves interaction with an past, present or potential EPAfrica partners we need to ensure that their consent to participate is not compromised by your affiliation with EPAfrica, a donor organisation.

Click here to read EPAfrica’s Research Ethics Guidance.

I have an idea for a research project but I have missed the deadline for ethics approval – can I still do my research?

After the deadline we cannot guarantee that you will get ethics approval, and without ethics approval you cannot undertake research in East Africa. However, you should speak with our Research Workstream Lead, and depending on the nature of your research and the time left before the summer it may still be possible to obtain ethics approval. However, we strongly prefer that you meet our deadlines – our ethics committee are all volunteers with full-time jobs, and reviewing research proposals takes time.

Once I have approval, what should I do with the outputs of my research?

You should write into your proposal how the outputs can be used by EPAfrica, and how you will disseminate your results. A useful output for EPAfrica is typically a summary of your research and your main findings, in addition to some recommendations on how your findings apply to our work and how we could improve what we do. We may ask you to present your findings at our summer debrief. We may also ask publish your work on our website.

Research Ethics

In order to facilitate high quality research, EPAfrica requires that the research it supports is carried out to a high ethical standard. Therefore any volunteer wishing to undertake a research project in association with EPAfrica, in an EPAfrica school, or whilst based in EPAfrica accommodation must obtain permission to do so beforehand by completing the ethical review process. This applies to project researchers, as well as to any other volunteers (coordinators, project managers, project workers) who wish to undertake any sort of research over the summer.

We invest in schools and the local community, and this means we must be very careful to ensure that our role as a donor does not influence whether or not potential participants give consent to be involved in research projects. Even if you plan to conduct research before or after your time volunteering with EPAfrica, we ask that you seek ethical approval as you will still be seen as a representative of EPAfrica, even if your volunteer role has officially ended.

The review process will help you to refine your research aims and methods, and will make sure you are equipped to carry out your research in an ethical way. You may need to prepare documents such as consent forms or information sheets to give to participants, and you will need to consider any risks associated with your research (both to yourself, the charity and to your participants). Our experienced ethics committee and research workstream will be on hand to guide you through this process. In order to give time to the ethics committee to review and approve your proposal, you must submit your proposal by the end of April at the latest.

Develop your research idea
February - April

Work closely with the Research Workstream lead to make sure your research is relevant and appropriate to EPAfrica’s work. Have a look at the ethics approval form – and even start to fill this in – as this will help you to structure and flesh-out your idea.

Complete ethics form
February - April

You will be assigned a member of the ethics committee to help you design your research proposal and fill out the ethics approval form. They will guide you on ethics best practice, and the risks that you will need to consider. This process will help you to refine your research methods and to do the necessary preparatory work for your project – for example you may need to make a research consent form and/or an information sheet to give to participants.

Submit ethics approval form
30th April

You must hand in your ethics approval form by 30th April at the latest. Beyond this date we cannot guarantee that you will be granted ethics approval before the start of the summer. You should submit with this form any accompanying documentation, e.g. consent forms, information sheets.

Ethics Approval
1st June

The ethics committee will endeavor to review your proposal within 4 weeks. During this time, they may ask you to adjust your proposal and/or accompanying documents in order to comply with our ethics requirements. You should have approval by 1st June, in order to carry out your research over the summer.

Ready to Apply?

We are currently accepting applications for Project Researchers from students and young professionals in London, Warwick, Cambridge and Oxford. (If you are based elsewhere please contact us to discuss). With your application we would like you to submit a short (one page) research proposal outlining your idea. Feel free to get in touch with our research lead (reuben.acheson@epafrica.org.uk) to discuss research ideas.

If your application is successful we will be in touch to organise an interview so that we can get to know each-other better.

2020 APPLICATIONS SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19

 

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