SmartStart Recent Available Job Opportunity – Apply Now!

Posted on :

18 Nov, 2020

Category :

Education Jobs

SmartStart is a national early learning programme that is looking for a dynamic, creative and self-driven individual with experience in training materials and adult learning to support our programme design team. Experience in the Early Childhood development skills and experience preferable.



Job Title: Early Learning Materials and Instructional Design Manager
Location: Johannesburg
Employment Type: Full-time Position

Universal access to a comprehensive package of early childhood development (ECD) services must be achieved quickly if we are to improve outcomes for children at population-level in South Africa. An estimated 1.24 million 3 – 5½ year-old children are either not attending an early learning programme, are attending inappropriate provision or their attendance/circumstances are unknown. Of these, over 920,000 are poor children (in quintiles 1 and 2). This means that poor children constitute 75 per cent of the total provisioning gap.In other words, children who are most in need are most likely to miss out.
In order to close this gap and achieve universal access for all 3 – 5-year-olds, over 100,000 new early learning practitioners and assistants are needed, and over 40,000 new venues. By implication, without a human resource pipeline and sufficient venues for early learning programmes, it will be impossible to improve access for children. What is more, in order to reach the high numbers of excluded children, system capacity must be expanded at an unprecedented rate in a relatively short timeframe.

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.

The successful candidate will have a deep knowledge and experience in early learning and evidence based approaches supported by strong understanding of instructional design and materials development.

The early learning materials and instruction design manager will be responsible for:

  • The development and ongoing evaluation and review of SmartStart’s early learning curriculum and supporting materials
  • The development and constant review and improvement of early learning messaging in support of behaviour change and learning across the network (parents, early learning practitioners)
  • The design and development of learning interventions and materials for the SmartStart Network
  • Development of training of trainers to ensure they are equipped to facilitate learning as intended
  • Quality assurance of learning interventions
  • Leveraging new adult learning technologies for all target groups in SmartStart network

Key responsibilities:

  • Conceptualize, design and develop appropriate (evidence based) learning interventions (and associated collateral) for target groups in the network, in partnership with Early Learning Programme Lead and Network lead, as required. *(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
  • Work with network and brand teams to ensure early learning messaging is consistent, impactful and appropriated for the SmartStart brand
  • Conduct in field evaluation and review of SmartStart’s training programmes
  • Pilot learning interventions in field and adjust to ensure achievement of learning outcomes
  • Support the training manager to ensure effective training of trainers to facilitate learning as intended
  • Support the trainer manager as needed to conduct quality assurance visits to ensure that learning is facilitated as intended
  • Work with Trainer 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

Accountable for:

  • Impactful early learning curriculum and materials, training and programmes
  • Supporting the SmartStart early learning messaging and activities are developed to achieve early learning outcomes for children
  • The quality of learning interventions
  • The quality of learning materials and collateral
  • Supporting the trainer manager to ensure trainers are adequately equipping trainers to deliver and facilitate learning interventions
  • Consolidating learning from field and making appropriate updates in response to learning
  • Ensure training is reviewed regularly and materials updated as needed

Measures of success:

  • Successful learners (learning evaluation forms and SETA throughput rates)
  • Effective Practice of target groups
  • Affordable solutions (as per budgets)
  • Brand aligned materials

Qualities and skills:

  • Committed to the purpose of SmartStart
  • Strong understand of effective early learning practices and methodology
  • Passionate about adult learning
  • Driven by results
  • Understanding of scalable delivery
  • Ability to manage detail
  • Creative learning intervention design skills
  • Advanced facilitation skills
  • Ability to inspire, develop and lead SmartStart trainers to deliver transformational learning interventions
  • Supplier management (creative design, production teams etc.)
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Desire to learn from the field to keep current and purposeful


  • Be in possession of a Bachelors’ degree and a valid driver’s license
  • Early childhood development content knowledge with a specific focus on early learning
  • At least three (3) years experience in managing early learning training/ training design interventions
  • Learning intervention design experience
  • Extensive facilitation and project management experience
  • Experience of social impact organisations, initiatives or programmes
  • Preferably QA experience but not essential

This role is required to travel around South Africa as part of programme review and engagement to the various SmartStart sites, specifically with a focus on training review and quality assurance.


SEND YOUR CV AND MOTIVATION LETTER  to [email protected] and [email protected] Please title the subject of your email: Early learning and instructional design manager.


Application Deadline: Friday, 27 November, 2020

Should you not receive feedback within two weeks after the closing date, please consider your application unsuccessful.

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