Program Director, Johannesburg

Program Director: Early Childhood Development (ECD)

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Remuneration: Competitive

Close Date: This position remains open until filled

Start Date: As soon as possible


About Sesame Workshop International

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, Takalani Sesame and so much more. Sesame Street is their pioneering television show that has been helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder since 1969, and now reaching more than 150 countries. Sesame is a beloved household name in dozens of languages, and it means learning – and fun – in all of them. Takalani Sesame is the South African adaptation launched in 2000 and currently broadcasting on SABC, produced in partnership with Kwasukasukela, the Department of Basic Education and Sanlam. Takalani addresses a range of early childhood development needs from literacy, math, life skills, and HIV awareness to instilling in children a greater sense of self and nurturing their readiness for lifelong learning. The TV and radio broadcast is complemented by outreach programs. As they continue pursuing their vision of creating a better world in which all children reach their highest potential, Takalani Sesame is poised for a new dawn of exciting growth, with a mission to use the combined power of media and play to inspire the builders of tomorrow to grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

About the Role

Sesame Workshop International South Africa has an opportunity for an education or childhood development expert to join their growing team as Program Director – Early Childhood Development, contributing to the exciting new vision for Takalani Sesame. With a passion for media and working with children, you will be the education subject matter expert leading their strategy to catalyse transformational ECD outcomes for preschool children in South Africa including providing technical content leadership for various Takalani Sesame mass media and community engagement initiatives. You will also provide research, monitoring and evaluation support to ensure interventions are based on research evidence and demonstrate social impact. Project management of new and ongoing initiatives, partnership building, contribution to resource mobilization efforts and organizational governance processes will also be key components of the role.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

ECD Subject Matter expert

  • Develop and execute ECD strategy for Takalani Sesame.
  • Lead the planning and implementation of community level ECD interventions in line with the strategy.
  • Lead in developing the educational curriculum for the Takalani TV show and other mass media content, including guiding decisions on which messages are best suited for mass media (one-way) and community engagement (two-way) channels.
  • Provide expert advice to media production teams to ensure that content is consistently aligned to curricular messages.
  • Working with other Sesame Workshop project teams, develop guides and training materials, plan and deliver/facilitate workshops/trainings for Takalani partners, teachers, parents, caregivers and other ECD stakeholders.
  • Provide thought leadership including convening multi-stakeholder engagement forums, representing Takalani at external events such as conferences, workshops and other ECD stakeholder gatherings.

Research, Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Working with Sesame Workshop’s Content Research Department, oversee formative and summative research activities including contributing to the development of research protocols and obtaining necessary ethics approvals.
  • Manage local consultants and other content research vendors.
  • Develop and implement monitoring and evaluation plans for specific projects including instrument development, data gathering and report generation.
  • Identify project challenges, synthesize lessons and recommend research-based corrections, applying collaborative, flexible, and practical thinking.

Project Management and Partnership Building

  • Lead in developing work plans and inception of new projects in line with the contractual requirements of funders.
  • Recruit and supervise project managers, consultants and other staff, ensuring their scope of work is clearly defined and performance agreements are in place.
  • Oversee quality assurance of project deliverables in line with Sesame Workshop’s program standards.
  • Serve as the liaison point between local project staff and other Sesame Workshop international project teams.
  • Prepare and submit relevant project reports to funders and Sesame Workshop.
  • Establish Sesame Workshop South Africa as a leader in the ECD space.
  • Build and manage partnerships with similar minded organisations in the ECD space.
  • Support the Managing Director in fundraising efforts through developing project concept notes, leading relevant aspects of proposal writing, and creating pitches and other fundraising materials.
  • Participate in meetings with current and prospective funders and other resource mobilization partners.

Qualifications, Skills and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree with specialization in Early Childhood Development, Education, Developmental Psychology or another field related to child development.
  • Minimum 10 years’ experience in the education sector, at least 5 years managing or supporting educational interventions targeting children from birth to six years.
  • Excellent verbal and written English skills.
  • Professional experience in designing and delivering early childhood learning initiatives, parenting programs, social and behavior change communication (SBCC) interventions and/or related services in low-resource settings.
  • Familiarity with workings of the South African Department of Basic Education.
  • Indepth understanding of the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, the National Curriculum Framework for Children from Birth to Four, as well as other relevant policy frameworks and curriculum standards.
  • Good research, monitoring and evaluation skills.
  • Demonstrated project cycle management skills.
  • Demonstrated cross-cultural communication skills and related competencies.
  • Ability to work well individually and as part of a multidisciplinary team in multiple geographical locations.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills in English, with excellent attention to detail.
  • MS Office skills including ability to prepare professional and appealing reports and presentations.
  • Flexible, creative, solution-oriented thinking.
  • Commitment to working with young children, parents, care givers and families.
  • Willingness to travel to and work in low-resource settings (up to 25%).

How to Apply

Applications must be addressed to KM Global Consulting and sent directly to stating SWI-PM-SA in the subject line.