TaRL Africa Postdoctoral Fellow

Teaching at the Right Level Africa (TaRL Africa) seeks a postdoctoral research fellow to join the TaRL Africa Central team. 

Country: US or France
Education: PhD
Language requirement: English, French
Length of commitment: Two years
Start date: 1 June 2020
Application deadline: 22 March 2020 

Teaching at the Right Level Africa (TaRL Africa) seeks a postdoctoral research fellow to join the TaRL Africa Central team. The fellow will be supervised by Abhijit Banerjee and Tavneet Suri and will work closely with the TaRL Africa Learning Director.

About TaRL Africa

TaRL Africa is a new initiative jointly led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the NGO Pratham 

Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL), an approach developed by the Indian NGO Pratham, aims to build foundational skills in math and reading for all children. At the instructional level, the approach works by assessing children’s learning levels using a simple tool, grouping children based on learning levels rather than age or grade, using a range of engaging teaching and learning activities, focusing on foundational skills, and tracking children’s progress. When TaRL is implemented within government systems, teachers receive strong academic support through mentors who are part of the government system. Ongoing, onsite monitoring and support, as well as reviews at different levels of the school system, all contribute to the effectiveness of the program.

A series of randomized evaluations by J-PAL affiliated researchers over the past fifteen years have shown that TaRL consistently improves learning outcomes when implemented well and has led to some of the largest learning gains among rigorously evaluated education programs. The iterative process of innovation and evaluation in collaboration with J-PAL has helped Pratham to refine and adapt TaRL over time, which has now reached millions of children in India and Africa.

Learning Team

Learning has always been at the core of the TaRL approach. As the approach moves to scale in Africa, continued adaptation to the local contexts and testing marginal innovations for efficiency and cost-effectiveness will be critical to TaRL’s long-term success. This new position will report to the Learning Director and work closely with TaRL Africa central team and country team staff.

The postdoctoral fellow will work to start new studies on the TaRL approach, focusing on those which can inform the program’s ability to cost-effectively reach the most children. The fellow can choose to be based at MIT or at the Paris School of Economics (PSE). The fellow will be supervised by Abhijit Banerjee (who will be based at PSE next year) and Tavneet Suri (based at MIT). The fellow will work closely with the TaRL Africa Learning Director, TaRL Africa Research Manager, and TaRL Africa central team and country team staff.

The fellow will join this team at an exciting time. The base of the approach, the scale, and the research agenda has been built. S/he can leverage this base to flexibly start many studies which will inform how TaRL continues to scale across the continent.


  • 50% time devoted to TaRL Africa:
    • Craft and implement new studies related to TaRL Africa, following the priorities delineated in the TaRL Africa learning agenda. In particular, the team is interested in new studies focused on teacher mentoring and support. 
    • Work with the TaRL Africa Learning Director, Research Manager and Research Associates to support qualitative and monitoring studies in each of the direct support countries
    • Participate in discussions about the TaRL Africa research lessons and learning goals for the future, including participating in TaRL meetings, webinars and conferences as appropriate
  • Approximately 50% time devoted to postdoc’s individual research, preferably focused on a related field

Minimum requirements

  • A PhD in economics, public policy, or a related field
  • Demonstrated interest in education policy
  • Strong STATA or R programming skills
  • Demonstrated experience in starting new, policy-relevant research projects
  • At least one working paper, with published journal articles an added advantage
  • Excellent communication skills in English including writing, conversing and presenting


  • Experience researching primary education interventions in Africa
  • Experience working in Africa, preferably in one of the countries scaling TaRL 
  • French language ability
  • African nationality


How to Apply

Applicants are required to submit:

  • A letter of motivation clearly addressing your qualifications
  • A CV including details of any conference presentations, working papers and/or publications
  • The names and contact details of 2 academic references

Interested candidates should fill in the application form: tarl.info/apply-postdoc.

The application deadline is 22 March, 2020. If you have questions, please direct them to info@teachingattherightlevel.org (note: applications received by email will not be considered). Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Shortlisted candidates will take a written test, go through an interview process, and will have reference checks before a final offer.