NGO Pulse Jobs – Early Learning Strategy and Design Manager

Website SANGONeT

Job Description:

Even where early learning programmes do exist, quality is highly variable. This is significant, because research suggests that children generally only benefit from attendance at early learning programmes if a certain level of quality is provided. The issue of quality tends to be linked to poverty. Both registered and unregistered early learning programmes in poor communities are more likely to have inadequate play and learning materials and to be provided by practitioners with little or no training.

Early learning programmes have the potential to create direct employment and support micro-enterprise development for a new cadre of trained ECD practitioners. There is also an exciting opportunity to support the expansion of early learning programmes using existing premises, including homes – meaning that scale-up is not slowed or made unaffordable by thousands of building projects.

A systems-intervention is needed which can close the provisioning gap in two ways: First, by integrating every stage on the service delivery continuum; and second, by providing the architecture and systems for establishing and managing programmes at scale. This type of national delivery platform offers a new way of thinking about the provision of early learning. It solves for the human resource and venues dilemmas together, by linking the challenges of recruitment and training with the operationalisation and resourcing of new programmes in a variety of existing premises, including homes. Crucially, in areas where ECD NGOs are already active, a national delivery platform acts as an equal partner, harnessing their experience and assets, linking up their contributions and providing the systems for growth.

A national early learning delivery platform is not simply a bigger NGO or service. It is a new approach which is designed at the outset for scale and provides the operational architecture and systems that enable it to keep expanding until all children are reached.

SmartStart is South Africa’s first full-service early learning delivery platform. Under a social franchise model, implementing partners (‘Franchisors’) license and support early learning practitioners to deliver the same evidence-based programme for 3-5 year-olds. The programme is supported by operational tools and play materials, a network of ‘Clubs’, and training, licensing and quality assurance processes implemented by a national team of Coaches. Recruitment and community activation systems help to stimulate both the supply and demand sides.

In the five years since set-up, the social franchise model has initiated and set up in excess of 7000 ECD micro- entrepreneurs and enabled SmartStart to reach over 75,000 children. In 2019, an independent evaluation of the progress of 199 children attending 69 SmartStart programmes confirmed that it was achieving positive outcomes for children. Using the standardised Early Learning Outcomes Measure (ELOM) tool, the researchers found that 62% of children were achieving the expected standard for their age at endline, compared to 32% at baseline.

SmartStart has shown what is possible, and as government incentives align with provider interests, a number of early learning delivery platforms could emerge.

SmartStart is looking for a high energy, impactful and creative thinker to join its team as early learning materials and content manager.. The successful candidate will have a deep knowledge and experience of evidence-based approaches to early learning and development supported by strong understanding of instructional design and materials development.

  • The development and ongoing improvement of SmartStart’s training and learning activities with a specific focus on early learning curriculum and supporting materials and tools
  • The development and ongoing review of early learning messaging and materials in support of behaviour change and across the network (parents, early learning practitioners)
  • Development of training of trainers to ensure SmartStart trainers are equipped to facilitate learning as intended
  • Management and development of training materials and processes in support of whole SmartStart value chain (not just early learning)
  • Quality assurance of training and learning activities
  • Leveraging new adult learning technologies for all target groups in SmartStart network
  • S/he will work closely in support of all the departments to ensure consistent early learning messaging and impactful training interventions. S/he will also monitor infield implementations to assure quality. In field experience should inform continuous updates and improvements of learning interventions where necessary.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Conceptualise, design and develop appropriate (evidence-based) training and learning activities (and associated collateral) for target groups in the network, in partnership with Programme Lesign and evelopment Lead. *(Target groups include: SmartStarters, principals, parents and caregivers, Club Leaders, Club Coaches, Franchisors, Hub Team Members)
  • Conceptualise, design and review appropriate evidence-based early learning materials and curriculum and support materials.
  • Develop content and tools for parents and caregivers in support of home learning.
  • Work with Network and Brand teams to ensure early learning messaging is consistent, impactful and appropriated for the SmartStart brand.
  • Ensure alignment with SETA (and ECD qualifications) and strategise and develop career pathing opportunities for SmartStarters
  • Conduct in field evaluation and review of SmartStart’s training programmes.
  • Pilot training and learning activities in field and adjust to ensure achievement of learning outcomes.
  • Ensure effective training of trainers to facilitate learning as intended.
  • Support the Training Manager as needed to conduct quality assurance visits to ensure that learning is facilitated as intended.
  • Work with Training Manager to continuously improve all adult learning interventions.
  • Ensure that Trainer Guides and trainings are reviewed and updated as needed.
  • Innovate and leverage learning technologies for scale and impact – including new remote learning opportunities across the SmartStart network.
  • Contribute to the ongoing refinement of the Programme Quality Assurance tool.
  • Contribute to the design of periodic programme evaluations.
  • Accountable for
  • Impactful and high quality early learning curriculum and materials, training and programmes.
  • Supporting SmartStart early learning messaging and activities to improve early learning outcomes for children.
  • The quality of training and learning activities and associated collatoral
  • Supporting the Training Manager to ensure trainers are adequately equipped to deliver and facilitate learning interventions.
  • Consolidating learning from field and making appropriate updates in response to learning
  • Ensuring training is reviewed regularly and materials updated as needed.

Job Requirements:

  • Committed to the purpose of SmartStart and to improving outcomes for young children
  • Extensive and demonstrable understanding of the theoretical framework for effective early learning
  • Excellent writing and editing skills for different audiences
  • Excellent materials design and development skills
  • Understanding of scalable delivery
  • Ability to manage own workload and take initiative
  • Ability to design creative trainings and learning activities
  • Advanced facilitation skills
  • Passionate about early learning and ability to inspire, develop and lead SmartStart trainers to deliver transformational learning interventions
  • Supplier management skills (creative design, production teams etc.)
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team and across departments
  • Desire and ability to learn from the field and from emerging research to keep current and purposeful
  • Be in possession of a Bachelors’ degree and a valid driver’s license
  • At least five (5) years experience at management level, managing early learning training/early learning materials development interventions
  • Learning intervention design experience
  • Extensive facilitation experience
  • Extensive project management experience
  • Experience of social impact organisations, initiatives or programmes
  • Preferably quality assurance experience but not essential

Job Details:

Company: SANGONeT

Vacancy Type:  Full Time

Job Location: Johannesburg

Application Deadline: N/A


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