Programme d’Enseignement Ciblé (PEC) – Côte d’Ivoire Observation and Qualitative Research Proposal Request

Location: Côte d’Ivoire
Deadline: 3 March 2021


The purpose of this announcement is to solicit proposal requests for the engagement of qualified researchers or research firms for the provision of professional research services to further advance the objective of Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) which is to help children develop basic reading and mathematics skills, opening doors to a brighter future.

TaRL Africa is a new partnership between Education NGO Pratham, and research centre The Abdul-Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have been working together to create cost-effective, scalable literacy and numeracy interventions for more than 15 years. The fruits of these efforts have been the development of what is now referred to as the TaRL approach.

The TaRL approach works by dividing children in upper primary into groups based on learning levels rather than age or grade. In Côte d’Ivoire, the TaRL approach is referred to as Programme d’Enseignement Ciblé (PEC). It was originally piloted in 50 schools in the regions of Méagui and Gabiadji and expanded to 200 schools in 2019/2020 funded by the Jacob’s Foundation’s Transforming Education in Ivory Coast (TRECC) Program and Cemoi. TRECC is working with public and private organizations to develop a sustainable ecosystem that will ensure access to quality education in Côte d’Ivoire.


Project Objective

 As Ministries of Education have begun piloting and scaling the TaRL approach in Africa, a key challenge that has emerged is how governments can support teachers through training, mentoring and monitoring fully within the government’s existing systems. Given the importance of teacher support as identified in the TaRL Africa Learning Agenda, building these support functions effectively into government systems is critical to the long-term impact of TaRL. However, building these systems can be expensive and difficult. By further adapting how these support functions sit within local settings and testing these adaptations, the TaRL Africa team hopes to further support governments in effectively improving learning outcomes for all learners.

The inception part of the research and the purpose of the proposal, is focused on descriptive work to understand mentoring needs, classroom operations and dynamics between teachers and their mentors. That is:

    1. Understand the current classroom management, teacher mentoring, training, and support systems (PEC and non-PEC). This includes speaking to the existing designated teachers and mentors about their current roles and responsibilities, challenges faced, reporting hierarchy, incentive structures, etc.
    2. Understand mentoring, training and support system needs by various stakeholders.
    3. Identify the areas where different mentoring, training, and support elements can be integrated into the existing systems.
    4. Explore the potential use of technology or other non-technological solutions to improve upon current teacher mentoring, training, and support systems.

This will guide the development of innovative pilot tools that will be tested in the next research phase to support cost effective scale-up by governments.

Research Design

To effectively reach our goals above, and with support from the Principal Investigator and Research Manager from TaRL Africa, the researcher or research firm is expected to carry out 3-5 months of descriptive work. The descriptive work will be done in 2 parts:

In-depth observational research to understand the dynamics of in-class PEC activities including teaching and mentoring. In particular:

    • Understand the status quo teacher support systems and the dynamics related to it.
    • Understand teachers’ interaction with different aspects of the PEC program including their in-class teaching of PEC and their mentor interactions.
    • Understand how children are engaging and understanding teaching in the classroom.
    • Uncover potential innovations and adaptations that enhance teacher support that can be piloted to inform more cost effective large scale models in the future.
    • Understand French language application to PEC specifically and its classroom delivery. That is:
      1. Critically assess how the alphabetic nature of French written language affects the PEC approach.
      2. Observe how PEC in French and teaching in mother tongue are being taught and interacted with in the classroom. 

Note: Due to the specialization required for activity ‘e’ above, kindly let us know in your application, if you are able to carry out this piece of work and state your previous experience carrying out such research.

For this piece of work, we foresee the need for the researcher or research firm to be embedded within a small sample of PEC schools to observe the daily operations, engagement and output within classrooms and school staff while implementing PEC.

Larger scale qualitative research surveying a wider sample of PEC practitioners/ stakeholders to understand perceptions, feedback and areas for improvement on the current PEC and non-PEC mentoring, monitoring and training models. This will help the TaRL Africa team explore existing mentoring and training systems to see what innovations and changes can be piloted to scale-up PEC effectively.  Surveys for this work have already been drafted by the TaRL Africa study team.  They will need to be piloted, refined and potentially updated given findings from the deep dive work.

Thus the process will be a mixed method approach covering in-school observations and direct interviews with school and other government staff.

 Research Sample Size

To effectively draw out the necessary information across the different groups, we recommend the following sample for the 2 descriptive pieces:

In-depth observational research

We propose that this work involve observations of teachers teaching PEC as well as mentoring interactions in these PEC classes. It is foreseen this should involve repeated visits to a particular teacher’s classes, observing PEC delivery by the teacher, PEC mentor meetings and collecting mentor meeting record sheets.  For example, this could involve 4 visits to observe a PEC teacher’s class over 2 weeks with 1 of those visits including a pedagogical advisor mentoring session and 1 including a head teacher mentoring session.  We feel this exercise should be in-depth to unpack the dynamics of the teaching and mentoring interactions.  We propose this work happens with 24 teachers in 8 schools (schools will be selected based on predefined parameters of interest across a combination of low and high values of the parameters).  Kindly note that we are also open to alternative suggestions on this sample and approach.

Larger scale qualitative research

We propose a random sample be identified from each region to ensure all government cadre and geographic distinctions are covered. Furthermore, within each IEPP, the schools to be chosen should reflect variety along the three dimensions: 1) closeness to the “Ecole Centre” , 2) previous performance, possibly on national exams, 3) gender diversity and 4) ethnic diversity within the area where the school is located.

Within each school, two teachers should be chosen, from grade 3 to grade 5. The choice for these two grades for each specific school should be made so that overall, the sample has an equal number of teachers across the grades.

In summary, we propose the following study sample:


Sample IEPP

Sample Schools

Sample Respondents



8 PEC schools

8 non-PEC schools

1 inspector per region

1 pedagogical advisor per IEPP

In each school: 1 headmaster, 2 teachers per school

1 Statistician per IEPP



8 PEC schools

8 non-PEC schools

1 inspector per region

1 pedagogical advisor per IEPP

In each school: 1 headmaster, 2 teachers per school

1 Statistician per IEPP



4 PEC schools

4 non-PEC schools

1 inspector per region

1 pedagogical advisor per IEPP

In each school: 1 headmaster, 2 teachers per school

1 Statistician per IEPP




120 school level staff

5 pedagogical advisors

5 statisticians

3 inspectors

 Important note: Due to the effect of COVID-19 on school closures, PEC roll out was disrupted across all schools in Cote d’Ivoire. Notwithstanding this, both phases of the research should be completed by May 2021 (timeline is subject to change based on school re-opening and PEC implementation progress). Kindly ensure your proposal clearly lays out how you plan to achieve this (refer to Expected Deliverable below for more information).

 Researcher Role

The selected researcher or research firm will work closely with the Principal Investigator and the TaRL Africa Research Manager.  You will be required to:

  1. Suggest and contribute to the overall research design.
  2. Apply for clearance from Cote d’Ivoire Institutional Review Board.
  3. Review survey instruments, suggest revisions based on context and translate surveys into local languages (specifically French).
  4. [If needed] Code the surveys (English and French) into a programming language as agreed with the TaRL Africa team.
  5. Use a programme which ensures data security, is easy to use and offers offline capabilities
  6. Pilot survey in collaboration with TaRL Africa.
  7. Design high quality reporting protocols in collaboration with TaRL Africa.
  8. Conduct high-quality qualitative observational research within schools.
  9. Ensure quality of assessment data including carrying out data checks.
  10. Keep personally-identifiable information separated from the raw data in an encrypted file.
  11. Ensure to maintain respect for the school environment, school staff and government cadres.
  12. Collaborate closely with the Principal Investigator and TaRL Africa Research Manager, who will also be engaging in in-person monitoring and data checks to ensure quality. This likely includes daily phone calls during the data collection process and very close engagement in the planning phases.
  13. Share the raw data with the TaRL Africa team daily in French (and potentially English as well).
  14. Translate collected data into English based on agreed upon indicators or surveys of interest.
  15. Analyze collected data and write-up reports and presentations in English and French.
  16. Track overall progress on the project and ensure adherence to timelines, guidelines and the project-plan.

 Expected Deliverables

The total time allocated for the study is roughly 3-5 months. The work will be split into the 2 descriptive work pieces with the in depth observational research starting early 2021 and the larger qualitative study later in the year.



Expected Output


Observation Research Timeline*

Qualitative Research Timeline*

1.Set-Up Phase

Approval from the necessary Cote d’Ivoire Review Boards 

Coded surveys in English and French

Piloted survey

Consent received from the necessary people for teachers, mentors and government staff to be interviewed and observed

Approved IRB application

Finalized survey forms

Finalized roll out

Consent report

Reporting protocol

1.5-2 months

1.5 months

2.Data Collection

Collect survey data from study sample

Survey data submitted daily to Principal Investigator and TaRL Africa Research Manager

2-3 weeks

3-4 weeks

3.Data analysis and reporting

Analyse collected data and write-up report

Final findings report and presentation in English and French

1 month

1 month

*Timelines subject to change based on school re-opening and PEC implementation progress.


The successful researcher(s) must offer the following demonstrated experience, knowledge and competencies:

 General requirements:

  1. Master’s degree in a suitable social scientific discipline.
  2. A competitive budget.
  3. Experience collecting data in Cote d’Ivoire.
  4. Experience collecting education data and working with teachers and governments will be viewed as advantageous.
  5. Proficiency in qualitative data analysis software.
  6. Fluent/native in French and English.

 Research requirements:

Background in collecting high quality data ethically. This will be measured by:

    1. Reference checks with past clients or published research work.
    2. Strong research protocols.
    3. Proven track record of descriptive research (observational and qualitative) in industry or academic settings.
    4. Experience leading, designing and implementing descriptive research (observational and qualitative) with references available.
    5. Expert knowledge on descriptive research (observational and qualitative) and methodologies.
    6. Strong communication, observational and engagement skills.
    7. Perceptive to engagement dynamics and relations.
    8. Strong communication and rapport building skills.


Interested researchers must submit their written proposals in English to TaRL Africa’s Research Manager via email on [email protected] before the deadline. Proposals must contain:

Technical proposal for the 2 different descriptive research work, not to exceed 7 pages, including:

    1. Detailed workplan that describes your suggested data collection plan, including human resources that would be involved (e.g., number of enumerators).
    2. Budget for each of the research pieces. This should include all the costs of data collection, including: enumerator training workshops, transportation, any required software and printing.
    3. A brief description of the experience collecting data highlighting the following (please include the experience of enumerators you will likely work with on this project): experience working in Cote d’Ivoire, on education projects and with school officials.
    4. A list of up to three references who you would feel comfortable with us reaching out to.
    5. Curriculum vitae.

Kindly note that given the two different descriptive research pieces, we encourage researchers and research firms who only meet the criteria for one of the phases of the descriptive research work highlighted above to still send an application and detail which research aspect they are applying for.