Research Associate, Iqraa Project, Morocco Employment Lab - J-PAL MENA

  • Morocco
Start Date (Earliest):
Start Date (Latest):
Length of Commitment:
Less than one year

I- Job summary

The Morocco Employment Lab (MEL) is looking to hire a Research Associate to support the evaluation of an innovative Arabic literacy curriculum for primary school students in Morocco, conducted by a team of international researchers.

This position will be based in our offices at the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic campus in Rabat.

About the Morocco Employment Lab (MEL)

Launched in September 2020 as part of a joint partnership between the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Center for International Development (CID), the Morocco Employment Lab (MEL) seeks to create a culture of evidence-based policymaking in Morocco through rigorous impact evaluations and capacity building.

MEL partners with key stakeholders in the labor and education sectors to help improve their policies and programs. Labor sector projects cover topics such as youth economic inclusion, job search assistance and intermediation and vocational training. Projects on education range from early childhood education to foundational literacy and teacher professional development. MEL aims to develop new research projects in additional sectors in the near future, such as health and social protection sectors.

MEL works across four complementary components to contribute to building a culture of evidence-based policy and ensuring that public policies and programs are informed by evidence:

  1. Identify policy priorities: The Morocco Employment Lab works with policymakers to diagnose key policy challenges, especially those compounded by COVID-19, identify data, highlight and prioritize knowledge gaps.
  2. Build capacity for evidence use: The Morocco Employment Lab hosts training workshops and events on how to generate and use evidence in policymaking. Tailored trainings are being delivered to researchers, civil service trainees, NGOs and government officials at different levels to create a broad understanding of how evidence can be used in policy and program design.
  3. Conduct impact evaluations: Together with its policy partners, the Morocco Employment Lab co-designs and implements a portfolio of impact evaluations that address the identified policy priority issues.
  4. Share evidence to inform policy: The Morocco Employment Lab disseminates research results to a wide range of stakeholders through large-scale policy symposiums, policy briefs, and online communication channels.

About the research project

Morocco ranked 48th of 50 countries in the most recent international study of primary school literacy (PIRLS). A key problem faced by Moroccan students learning to read is the difference between the colloquial Arabic used at home and the formal Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic; MSA) used for instruction. Learning MSA disruptions due to COVID-19 intensified the challenge of learning MSA. To address this learning gap, this evaluation aims to assess the impact of an innovative reading and oral grammar MSA curriculum for students entering primary school. The curriculum relies on insights from cognitive science to help students detect visual patterns and probabilistic structure in formal Arabic that they would not learn at home. This research project is a randomized evaluation conducted by a team of international researchers: Abdellah Chekayri (Al Akhawayn University), Mei-Ching Lien (Oregon State University), Helen Abadzi (University of Texas and formerly World Bank), Todd Pugatch (Oregon State University).

About the position

The position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the design and implementation of impact evaluations as well as data collection, management, and analysis, in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research. 

Research Associates work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to: designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot tests, refining the design and the survey instruments of the study, managing survey teams, negotiating contracts with survey firms, checking and analyzing data, cleaning data and assisting in the preliminary analysis, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos, and coordinating with the local partner running the program under evaluation. 

This position is based in Rabat, Morocco and can be either part time or full time, depending on the candidate’s availability.

II- Key Responsibilities 

The Research Associate is responsible for the supervision of the project and its successful implementation in the field, which includes:

  • Propose and, as appropriate, implement innovations in the different stages of a project in coordination with Principal Investigators
  • Maintain and grow effective relationships with implementing partners
  • Oversee and lead the field research activities, including the implementation of the evaluation, according to the research design in coordination with partners
  • Liaising with field staff running the evaluations and collaborating with them including travel to research field sites
  • Conduct background research in conjunction with field research activities
  • Designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, refining study design and surveying instruments
  • Supervise in person or phone data collection and ensure the good quality of the data
  • Assist with the preparation of administrative databases
  • Assist with data cleaning and preliminary data analysis
  • Any other work assigned by Principal Investigators

He/she will also be responsible for ensuring good communication and organization on a daily basis:

  • Facilitate, strengthen and maintain effective and efficient communication as the primary contact point with Principal Investigators.
  • Provide periodic updates on project activities to PIs and subject experts
  • Participate in the planning and design of any outreach activities
  • Ensure that project activities are on schedule and prepare project update reports according to agreements with funders and partners

III- Requirements

  • A Master's Degree in economics, public policy, math, statistics or related technical fields including training in microeconomics, econometrics, statistics, and advanced mathematics
  • Graduate-level coursework in economics is a plus
  • Experience with living in Morocco or a developing country is a strong advantage
  • Previous experience in development research preferred
  • Previous experience in education projects preferred
  • Very strong quantitative, organizational, and communication skills are necessary
  • Fluency in Arabic and an excellent command of English (compulsory). French command is a plus
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a team player
  • Demonstrated ability to manage high-level relationships with partner organizations
  • Prior experience working with large data sets and programming in Stata, SAS, R or other statistical programs is necessary. Familiarity with randomized controlled trials is a strong plus.

How to Apply

If you are interested, please share your CV and cover letter with Jamila Ayoub at [email protected] following these instructions: (1) In the subject line: Include your full name: first (given) name followed by last (family) name, followed by job title : “Research Associate- Iqraa project- Employment Lab, Morocco”.

Given the volume of applications received, only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.