**Deadline expired** Expressions of interest sought for Action Research Team, VSO, Malawi

Expression of interest for Action Research Team.

Action-Based Research Programme: Design and implementation services for the Unlocking Talent through Technology project in Malawi.

Full details on VSO’s website.

VSO is an International development organisation that contributes towards addressing poverty and disadvantage through the placement of International and National skilled professional volunteers with national partners who work in its thematic areas of Inclusive Education, Health and Secure Livelihoods.

We will be running a tender process with the intention of awarding a contract for the provision of action research and are seeking expressions of interest from suitably experienced and qualified organisations.


Since 2014, VSO Malawi has been implementing the Unlocking Talent through Technology (UT) to address Malawi’s chronic poor learning outcomes and increase the quality of education. Through its UT programme, VSO Malawi, in partnership with onebillion and with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Malawi, is ensuring access to proven tablet based learning apps by children across Malawi. The goal of the programme is the attainment of literacy and numeracy core competencies in primary school age children in Malawi, or in simpler words, for children to have achieved significant learning outcomes by accessing curriculum aligned digital education technology (DET) at school based learning centres (LC). It targets early grade learners, in-service and pre-service teachers, Teacher Training College (TTC) lecturers, Primary Education Advisors (PEA), out-of-school youth and children with special learning needs. To date, the UT programme has been implemented within purpose built learning centres, with learners accessing the intervention on an individual basis through a hand-held tablet connected to a set of headphones.

Three evaluation trials of the UT approach have been conducted to date and results showed children receiving the UT intervention made significantly greater learning gains than children receiving standard classroom practice.  

Action research objectives

Aiming to improve the implementation and reach of the Unlocking Talent programme in Malawi, VSO Malawi would like to engage an experienced action research service provider to conduct a series of action-based research studies within the programme.

The action research team will design, plan and conduct a participatory, gender-sensitive and inclusive action research over the next 2 years focusing on three components:

  1. How do different modes of implementation affect learning within UT;
  2. What is the impact of using UT across different modes of implementation on teaching practice; and
  3. Can UT be used effectively with different user groups to enhance reach.

The role of the researchers will focus on training practitioners; including teachers, inspectors and advisors to become researchers. The research will be carried out by practitioners under the supervision of the professional action research team. The professional action research team will train and mentor practitioners in this process.

Required skills and experience

Prospective service providers must have experience of conducting action-based research in education settings, similar to UT projects to UT including.  Bidders should have:

  • Post graduate degree in Education, Social Science or other development related field for the team leader           
  • Experience in training practitioners including teachers, inspectors, advisors to investigate their own practices to improve children’s learning outcomes.
  • Expertise and experience in conducting action research in an education setting.
  • Skills in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, drawing findings from multiple sources and handling potential contradictions between data sets.
  • Knowledge and experience required on conducting action research with children, the education sector, disability and gender to ensure that the action research design and research methods are as relevant and meaningful as possible given the aims and objectives of the project and the context in which it is being delivered.
  • Manage a potentially large-scale and complex multi-site research process from end-to-end, including conducting training, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on each action research component
  • It is particularly important that the team has the appropriate country knowledge /experience and language proficiency required to conduct the research required

Expressions of interest: all expressions of interest must be received by VSO by 28th March 2019 12 noon Malawian Time and must be submitted electronically (emailed) to the following email address:  


The EOI must include a contact name, company name, company address, phone and email address.

Tender documents: tender documents will be sent to those who expressed an interest shortly after the close of the EOI period.

Anticipated contract start date: May, 2019

VSO reserves the right not to award a contract.


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