Call for Applications: The Africa Fellows in Education Program 2023/2024

Submit your application for the Africa Fellows in Education (AFE) Program 2023/2024.
The deadline to submit applications is May 21st, 2023 (23:59 GMT).


An indispensable element of successful long-term economic development is a skilled population.  However, the major problem in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, is the low quality of education. For example, the majority of children in these countries completes primary school without acquiring functional literacy and numeracy skills, reflecting educational systems that are struggling to prepare large numbers of students.1  

Numerous factors contribute to this challenge, and a wide array of potential solutions has been proposed to tackle it. Transparent and analytically useful data from student assessments are perhaps the most important initial step toward improving school performance. When properly constructed, these data identify the range of possible performance levels and encourages analyses that can improve low performing school systems.

However, there is a lack of national testing and participation in regional or international assessments due to several factors, including costs, lack of capacity to conduct assessments, and aversion to possible embarrassment from the results. Notably, some of these issues are being addressed by broad-based efforts of regional and international organizations to support the expansion of comparable student assessments.

Still, a closely related issue remains unaddressed: the lack of local capacity to use student outcome data effectively to improve policy and schools. While it might be initially possible to swap external people for trained local researchers – this is neither sustainable nor conducive to the development of sound and well-informed decision-making in schools.

The Africa Fellows in Education Program (AFE) aims to address this local capacity gap and improve education decision-making across Sub-Saharan Africa. AFE will support a network of local policy fellows with enhanced skills in evaluating existing educational research, developing and using performance data to make better decisions, and introducing rigorous evidence into the decision-making process.  Having a network of highly competent researchers across a region both reinforces the value of using systematic evidence in decision-making and supports broad improvement in policies. Local expert researchers will also form a constituency for expanding and improving the assessment structures in each country. The Fellows will be able to identify and produce high-quality research utilized in educational decision-making.  They will also become active in outreach to policymakers and civil society actors and advocate for sound, analytically based local policies.

In sum, the objective of the AFE is to build a group of Africa-based leaders capable of developing evidence and shaping educational policies that are relevant to their countries.  They would be part of a global network of such people and, if successful, could also help build out local networks of strong advocates for the improvement of schools.

The Call for applications 

The Global Education Analytics Institute (GEAI), in collaboration with PEP, invites young African researchers who are motivated to work on educational improvement and could benefit from additional support to submit an expression of interest in the Africa Fellows in Education Program. The program enables the fellows to participate in a two-year research and policy development fellowship that introduces them to relevant research and analytical experiences and to international networks of researchers and policy advisers.

The Global Education Analytics Institute (GEAI) and The Africa Fellows in Education Program (AFE) is supported by the Yidan Prize.

Details on the structure of the AFE Program 

The proposed program is organized around a combination of in-country activities and network/training opportunities abroad. Under the two out-of-country segments, it is expected that the successful fellows will have the opportunity to attend two of the most prominent international conferences on the economics of education – the CESifo Economics of Education conference and the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) conference. (The exact conference and travel schedule is subject to change based on the prevailing circumstances.) In addition to these conferences, the fellows will participate in a series of short courses designed to be most suitable to their needs, covering topics such as evaluation methods, communications, incentive structures, and other related areas, while also providing fellows with the opportunity to foster international connections. Further, they will have a series of lectures around testing and performance measurement.  This introduction will enable fellows to understand the use of large-scale testing data from various international and regional assessments and will also sensitize them to general issues around the use of standardized testing. The first two weeks of training will be in September 2023 and the other two-week training session will be held in March 2024.

While in their home countries, the fellows will develop a research/evaluation project to be carried out (mainly) in the second year under program supervision and with local scientific mentors. The initiative will engage a part-time local facilitator to monitor the progress of each fellow and to reinforce new skills. This approach will lead to fellows exploring the existing state of local assessments and evaluations of educational issues. Both during the fellowship period and afterward, a team of advisors from Stanford University and other organizations in Africa and internationally will provide direct support and supervision.

Fellows are expected to complete the project in two years, organize in-country policy outreach workshops to disseminate the research findings, and present the final report at the GEAI-PEP-organized conference in June 2025.  

See also Africa Fellows for Education - Terms of References

Funding Information 

Funding includes a $35K research (cash) grant. Other expenses, with a value of up to $25K, for mentorship, study visits, conference travel, and in-country workshops to share research findings and training will be covered directly by the Program.

Eligibility criteria 

To be eligible for this call, applicants must: 

  • Be a national of a Sub-Saharan African country; 

  • Have an MA or Ph.D.  degree, preferably in Economics, education policy, social/public policy, development studies or international development, with a strong focus on education. While a Ph.D. is not mandatory, GEAI encourages fresh Ph.D. graduates who can benefit from mentorship and additional training to become solid researchers; 

  • Be proficient in quantitative data analysis, with a strong knowledge of data analysis software such as R and Stata;  

  • Not be older than 35 years old; 

  • Demonstrate interest in education policy research and analysis; 

  • Have an affiliation at a research or higher education institution in a Sub-Saharan African country, and intend to do so for the foreseeable future; 

  • Qualified females are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Application Process 

The Africa Fellows application process is managed by GEAI, in collaboration with PEP. The applications will be assessed based on a number of factors, including prior preparation and quality of essay (see below). The expression of interest by the applicants should include:  

  1. A two-page statement of interest; 

  1. A two-page essay. In this essay, the applicant must think and write about a specific education problem in their home country and how such a problem could be scientifically evaluated using quantitative methods. The essay must be prepared in English; 

  1. A detailed and updated CV with at least two (2) referees whom the selection committee can contact.  

Applications must be submitted via the PEP intranet system (see detailed procedure below), before the 21st of May 2023 (23:59 GMT).

Here are the steps to submit your application:
  1. STEP 1: Register on the PEP website: click Register (see also the top right corner of the PEP website, next to "Login") and fill out all required information.

    • Your profile will be activated within 24 hours.  Your username is the email address that you use to register.

  1. STEP 2: Access your PEP account. Once your profile has been activated, you can access your PEP account  by clicking on the Login button (also top right corner above).

  2. STEP 3: Complete your "profile": click on your name (top right corner of your PEP account page).

    • Include all information relevant for this application - birthday, highest diploma, institution, position, etc. (see eligibility criteria) - and upload your updated CV.

    • We also strongly encourage to include a photo and short professional bio.

    • When finished, click on SUBMIT at the bottom of your profile page.

  3. STEP 4: Go to the menu under "My workspace" (top left corner) and click on "Submit a proposal".

    • Follow the instructions and upload your statement of interest and essay as one/combined document.

  1. Once finished, to make sure that the submission was successful, return to your PEP account and click on "My Projects" (under "My workspace). Select the project and go to "Documents" to find or replace/update your document.

                                      Up to 4 awards will be announced in June 2023. 

Africa Fellows for Education - Terms of References 

The objective of the AFE is to build a group of Africa-based leaders capable of developing evidence and shaping educational policies that are relevant for their countries.  They would be part of a global network of such people and, if successful, could also help build local networks of strong advocates for improvement of schools. 

The program enables the fellows to participate in two-year research and policy development fellowships that introduce them both to relevant research and analytical experiences and to international networks of researchers and policy advisers. 

The Fellow’s Key responsibilities 

During the two years of the program, each fellow will be expected to achieve the following milestones:   

  1. By the end of the first year, and having consulted with relevant policy makers/stakeholders, write a concept research proposal focusing on a specific education problem in their home country or any other Sub-Saharan African country. Motivate the selected (education) research issues and objectives, outline the data sources and proposed methodology, and provide a clear plan for completing the project by June 2025.   

  1. Attend all short-term training courses arranged by GEAI, in collaboration with PEP.   

  1. Over the two years, work closely with local and international scientific mentors to develop and complete the research project. 

  1. Present the project’s work-in-progress and final reports at local and international conferences organized by GEAI and its partners.  

  1. Complete the project in two years and present the final report at the GEAI-PEP organized conference in June 2025. The final report must be rigorous enough to meet contemporary research and evaluation standards. 

  1. Write a policy brief based on the final technical research report.  

  1. Write a policy blog 

  1. Organize in-country policy outreach workshops to disseminate the research findings. 



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