Become a Project Researcher
We are looking for three enthusiastic individuals to join our research team! Two researchers will be based in either Kenya or Uganda over the summer of 2017, and one will be desk-based in the UK, working to explore new challenges and key opportunities for EPAfrica.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 disadvantaged rural schools.
The Project Researcher Role
Be part of a thriving research team at the core of EPAfrica!
This year we will be recruiting one desk-based and two in-country project researchers to further EPAfrica’s knowledge and understanding of leading issues in both Kenya and Uganda. Undertaking research with EPAfrica is a unique opportunity to impact the way we do things.
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 of technical & vocational schools and teaching methods, however applicants can suggest a variety of topics.
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.
Desk-based / Remote
EPAfrica is currently looking to expand our knowledge regarding the educational context in East Africa. We are looking for a keen volunteer to support the Research Workstream lead in producing a document detailing the current educational context in both Kenya and Uganda.
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.
Once accepted you will develop your research project and complete your ethics approval form with the help of the EPAfrica research workstream lead.
Possible research topics include:
1. Technical / vocational / farm schools in East Africa (Uganda)
2. The role of information technology in East African schools
3. Teaching methods in East Africa (tbc)
4. Entrepreneurs & local entrepreneurial activity in East Africa
5. Factors affecting student health & well-being
Please contact our research workstream lead Jessi (jessica.savage-hanford
You will be based in the UK, working from home and in regular contact with the research workstream lead, to develop a document describing the current educational context in East Africa. Research would be internet / book based, and would potentially include identifying and conducting interviews with key informants. Your work would seek to better EPAfrica’s understanding of the Kenyan and Ugandan education systems.
Research can be undertaken as part of your university studies, but the key outcome would be a report produced for EPAfrica’s purposes. Once accepted you will develop the report along with the research workstream lead. The report would be delivered in autumn 2017.
Please contact our research workstream lead Jessi (jessica.savage-hanford
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.
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
You will work and make friends with our enthusiastic partners in Africa
Victoria, Project Worker, 2015
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 2017, and attend a debrief around this time in which you will have a change 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.
Your research project will run through the year, and can be flexible to accommodate your work and/or studies. You will work with the research workstream lead to develop a plan, and you will produce, in partnership with the Research Workstream lead, a document outlining the current educational context in East Africa for EPAfrica that is sensitive to the needs and interests of the charity.
What will I be doing day to day?
There is no typical day for a Project Worker. Our model gives volunteers the freedom to manage their time and resources as they see fit, depending on the needs of their school.
I am LGBTQ. Will I be safe in East Africa?
EPAfrica welcomes applicants from all backgrounds, and many LBTQ Project Workers have thoroughly enjoyed their experience with us. However, volunteers are advised to think carefully before discussing their sexual orientation with East Africans, as attitudes are usually much more conservative than in the UK. Crucially, all Project Workers are briefed on this issue in UK-based training sessions, and EPAfrica has several LGBTQ former Project Workers who will be happy to offer advice and guidance on the subject.
Why don’t EPAfrica volunteers teach?
We believe that teaching for a short period of time is not an effective way of improving the quality of education in our partner schools. Our volunteers are not trained teachers, and have only a basic understanding of the Kenyan education system. Instead, they give time, money and a fresh perspective to help develop interventions that will remain effective after they leave.
Should I be skeptical of international volunteering projects?
Yes. International development is complicated, and voluntary projects are often perceived as being mainly for the benefit of the volunteers. However, we believe that creating real change in our schools and providing a meaningful development opportunity for our volunteers are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, these aims are bound together and form the basis of EPAfrica’s mission statement.
We strive to avoid ‘voluntourism’ at all costs. We interview all applicants, and only accept those who demonstrate clear understanding of the challenges surrounding international volunteering. We engage with multiple school stakeholders whilst planning projects, employ local contractors for building work and purchase resources from local suppliers. We work in each school for a minimum of two years, and are developing methods of creating networks between EPAfrica schools.
Our Board of Trustees and external Board of Advisors ensure that we engage in regular critical reflection on the ethics, effectiveness and sustainability of our work.
Who can apply?
EPAfrica recruits students and young professionals from Oxford, Cambridge and London. The majority of our volunteers are undergraduates or students who have just completed their courses, but we also welcome applications from postgraduate students and young professionals.
Will there be an opportunity for me to travel?
Yes. All Project Workers have one holiday week, usually after 6 weeks of the project. Many Project Workers also choose to stay on after the project has finished to undertake further travel in East Africa. We offer a selection of return flight dates, to allow flexibility for further travel plans.
Are Kenya and Uganda safe?
EPAfrica works in areas of Kenya and Uganda that are safe. While all volunteers travel at their own risk, we constantly take advice on risk from multiple sources, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, various media outlets and friends of the charity in East Africa. If our risk assessment changes during the course of the project, we have a comprehensive evacuation plan, and all summer Project Managers take part in crisis management training.
Although there are areas of Kenya and Uganda that the FCO advises against travelling to, these are a very long way from the sites EPAfrica works in.
How will I stay healthy in East Africa?
EPAfrica provides health training to all volunteers that has been designed with input from qualified doctors and a national malaria expert. In addition to discussion of malaria prophylaxis and prevention, the training covers topics including water purification, food poisoning, infectious diseases and mental health. Drawing on more than 20 years’ experience, EPAfrica makes every effort to help its volunteers to stay healthy. However, volunteers are responsible for their own health whilst in East Africa, and it should be noted that the supporting Summer Team not medically trained. Volunteers also complete a first aid training session to help them feel more prepared to deal with minor incidents.
Can I book my own flights?
Yes, in special circumstances this can be permitted, although we prefer Project Workers to travel with the main group where possible. If you book your own flights, you can fundraise to cover these costs as normal. Your fundraising target will be reduced by the cost of the main group flights, which is subject to change.
How is EPAfrica managed?
EPAfrica is entirely volunteer run, managed mainly by past Project Workers who remain inspired by our work. EPAfrica’s six-strong Management Committee is responsible for the day-to-day management of the charity, whilst strategy, risk and governance are the responsibility of a dedicated Board of Trustees. The Trustees brings vast experience from their professional careers. The Board of Trustees also take advice from an external Board of Advisors.
Any other questions?
What if I am not a student?
We welcome applications from young professionals and those undertaking pre-university placements in London, Oxford and Cambridge.
Want to be a Project Researcher?
We are currently accepting applications for Project Researchers from students and young professionals in London, Warwick, Cambridge and Oxford. 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 (jessica.savage-hanford
If your application is successful we will be in touch to organise an interview so that we can get to know each-other better.