Call for proposals
We have invited applications from research teams interested in developing proposals that can assist us in meeting our research objectives. We expect to fund approximately 70 research projects in India, Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland and South Africa within an overall budget of £2m.
We will be awarding funding across three categories.
FUNDING LEVEL: £5-10k
Project duration: 12 months
Start date: September 2021
FUNDING LEVEL: £10-30k
Project duration: 12 months
Start date: September 2021
These awards are intended to support innovative pilot activities and activities that have a strong capacity building element. They are targeted at non-academics new to research and at Early Career Researchers.
FUNDING LEVEL: £30-100k
Project duration: 18 months
Start date: July 2021
These awards are targeted at more experienced researchers and research teams. They should also be innovative in nature and support capacity building.
Aim of the call
Our aim is to generate new knowledge that can assist education policy makers, institutions, non-governmental and community-based organisations and businesses in our countries of research focus to implement education policies and practices that can contribute to equitable and environmentally sustainable development in the following areas:
- Skills and agency of young people and adults for sustainable livelihoods
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Climate action
We will do this through synthesising existing knowledge but also through funding new ‘plus funded’ projects in our countries of research focus. We are particularly interested in research aimed at meeting the needs of historically marginalised groups, including those most affected by poverty, women, youth, indigenous peoples, urban and rural dwellers.
A key objective of our work is to mobilise capacity to undertake existing and future research in the above areas. We will provide ongoing opportunities and support within our hubs in Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland and South Africa for those new to the research process as well as more experienced researchers to develop their research skills.
We are therefore inviting expressions of interest from research teams interested in developing proposals for plus funded research projects that can assist us in meeting our objectives.
We are particularly interested in proposals from researchers and research teams that demonstrate the ability to:
- Constructively draw on a range of relevant theoretical and practical insights including those derived from different disciplinary perspectives, local and indigenous knowledge systems
- Bring together different forms of expertise to tackle real world challenges including researchers, policy-makers, business people, education practitioners as well as expertise based in non-governmental and community organisations
Our countries of research focus are profoundly affected by a range of sustainability challenges, although these are manifested differently in each context. These include, but are not limited to, high levels of poverty and inequality including inequality linked to socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity and indigeneity; dependency on low-paid and precarious employment in the formal and informal sectors; high levels of youth unemployment; rapid processes of urbanisation with shifting patterns of movement and settlement between urban and rural areas; overcrowding and sub-standard accommodation, poor infrastructure including sanitation, spatial planning and services, natural disasters and food insecurity; vulnerability to the effects of climate change including increased risks of flooding and drought; periods of protracted conflict.
Although education and training are accorded a high priority in national, regional and global policy agendas there remains limited and highly unequal access to good quality education and lifelong learning opportunities. There are consistent concerns about the relevance of curricula for addressing the sustainability challenges identified above. Social and educational inequalities have been exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which has also resulted in some instances on a greater emphasis on remote learning and on public education within communities. Nevertheless, new ideas and practices are emerging both in formal education and training settings as well as in non-governmental and community-based organisations and businesses. These have the potential to challenge unsustainable policy and practices. To respond to the challenges facing education, training and wider forms of social learning, there is a need to identify and build on these initiatives and to mobilise capacity to realise transformative change. It requires being able to potentially draw on different kinds of expertise including expertise held by academics, educational practitioners, policy makers as well as those within non-governmental and community-based organisations. It also potentially requires being able to draw on insights from different academic disciplines as well as from indigenous and local knowledge of tackling sustainability challenges.
Funded projects will creatively address one or more of the following questions:
- How can education and training assist learners to achieve sustainable livelihoods? What kinds of skills, knowledge and attitudes are required by learners for them to achieve sustainable livelihoods? How can education and training support the agency of learners to achieve sustainable livelihoods?
- How can education and training support sustainable cities and communities? What skills, knowledge and attitudes are required by urban dwellers, planners, politicians and community leaders to support sustainable cities and communities? How can the location, planning, design and operation of educational institutions contribute to environmentally sustainable cities and communities?
- How can education contribute to climate action? What skills, knowledge and attitudes do learners need to mitigate climate change and/or adapt to its effects? How can formal and informal education and training mobilise capacity and agency for tackling the effects of climate change?
Who can apply
The project team will be composed of a Principal Investigator (PI) (responsible for the leadership of the project) and one or more Co-Investigators (Co-Is). The PI must be based in Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland or South Africa. Where an investigator is from is judged by the location of the institution at which they are employed. There are instances where an institution, such as an NGO, might be based in one country, but operate in another. In this instance, the application needs to demonstrate that the majority of work, including the work of the individual investigator, will be taking place in one of the countries of research focus.
No more than 10% of the total project cost may be allocated to an international (non-DAC) Co-Investigator’s institution. This 10% limit applies to the total cost for international Co-Investigators and third sector organisations that are not based in DAC list countries (more information on this is available under ‘ODA funding’ in the FAQ section below). The assessment panel will consider the composition of your team. Applications including/led by early-career, new and non-career researchers are strongly encouraged. We also encourage teams to work across local communities, with NGOs, third sector partners or with education stakeholders. We encourage groups to consider equality, diversity and inclusion when forming the group.
The host institution must be based in either Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland or South Africa. The application must be made through a host organisation (e.g. a University, Research Institute, an NGO, government department, business, school, community group social enterprise, arts or cultural organisation) where the appropriate authority has agreed for the application to take place. If you are interested in applying for funding but do not belong to an institution that is able to meet all criteria listed in the call document, please indicate this on the Expression of Interest form. We may be able to provide support to enable your institution to meet the criteria or pair you with another institution that is able to meet the criteria.
How to apply
The application process involves the following steps (please refer to country-specific call guidance for detailed timelines and submission deadlines):
- Applicants submit an expression of interest form
- Expressions of interest are evaluated by the peer review college and the country hub commissioning panels
- Researchers who submitted successful expressions of interest are invited to develop a full proposal
- Researchers developing full proposals are invited to a proposal development workshop
- Researchers submit full proposals incorporating feedback from the peer review college
- Awards announced
- Contracts issued
- Larger projects (£30-£100k) commence (July 2021)
- All other projects commence (September 2021)
Teams interested in submitting a proposal must first complete an expression of interest form. The relevant form can be downloaded from the link above. The completed form must be submitted by the deadline published in the country-specific call guidance. Please submit forms as early as possible to allow us time to assist with any technical issues. We will not accept partially filled in forms. If you have trouble accessing or using the form, please email us at ku.ca.lotsirb.spuorg@fset-prg.
How we will assess your application
At the full proposal stage, applications will be reviewed under the following headings:
- People involved
- Capacity mobilisation
- Appropriateness of research methods
- Research impact
- Value for money
At the expression of interest stage, due consideration will be given to the level of experience of research teams, and evaluations will be made with respect to a judgement of the potential for meeting the above assessment criteria.
Frequently asked questions
The funding awarded by TESF is ODA funding – what does this mean for my application?
- ODA stands for Official Development Assistance. ODA is government aid which is awarded to DAC countries that promote and specifically target the economic development and welfare of developing countries.
- DAC stands for Development Assistance Committee. The DAC is based within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is the DAC who defines which countries are classified as DAC countries. A full list of DAC countries can be found on the OECD website.
All applicants applying for funding from TESF must therefore meet the following ODA and TESF requirements:
- The Principle Investigator must be based in one of our countries of research focus (India, Rwanda, Somalia/ Somaliland or South Africa). Where an investigator is from is judged by the location of the institution at which they are employed.
- The majority of work must take place within a country of research focus.
- No more than 10% of the total cost may be allocated to an international (non-DAC) Co-Investigator’s institution. This cap does not apply to costs allocated to a Co-Investigator based in another DAC country, as long as the majority of work remains within the country of research focus (see point 2 above).
What is the role of the host institution?
Every project must be hosted by an institution based in either India, Rwanda, Somalia/Somaliland or South Africa. The application must be made through the host organisation, which can be a University, a Research Institute, an NGO, a government department, a business, a school, a community group social enterprise or an arts or cultural organisation.
The host institution plays an important role in supporting the project, an in turn must demonstrate:
- The ability to deliver
- Governance and control
- Financial stability
- Sub-contract management
Please be advised that if your project is chosen for funding that you will be required to evidence the above through the provision of appropriate policies, procedures and audited financial statements (if available).
Can I apply for more than one project?
Applicants can only be Principal Investigator on one application to this call. There is no restriction on the number of applications an individual can be Co-Investigator for, but they must have the capacity to undertake all projects applied for, should they be successful.
Is there a limit to the number of Co-Investigators on a project?
No. There is no limit to the number of Co-Investigators who can be involved in any one project.
I’m a PhD student (or thinking of applying for a PhD) – can I apply for funding?
Yes, you are entitled to apply for funding. However, we can only cover direct costs of the project being carried out which means we are not permitted to cover student fees or supervisor costs. It is also a condition of funding that all data gathered during the research should be available in the public domain. If you are intending to use the data gathered as part of your PhD you will need to check with the institution you are registered with the regulations concerning the early release of data if the project completes prior to the publication of your doctoral thesis. Please discuss your plans with your PhD supervisor in the first instance.
I would like to find a research partner to collaborate with – what should I do?
Each country hub will be happy to help you find a research partner by facilitating conversations and networking opportunities with other applicants. This may be by email, via discussion boards and/or via zoom meetings. Please check the country-specific guidance information for your country for updates on information sessions.
How academic does my project need to be?
Full applications will be evaluated based on the following assessment criteria:
- People involved
- Capacity mobilization
- Appropriateness of research methods
- Research impact
- Value for money
At the expression of interest stage, due consideration will be given to the level of experience of the research team, and an evaluation will be made with respect to a judgement of the potential for meeting the above assessment criteria. A good idea is the most important at this stage – the purpose of the proposal development workshops are to help you develop the academic rigor of your proposal.
Can I build on/develop a project I am already working on?
Research proposals must be able to demonstrate how they will support the generation of new knowledge. Building on an existing initiative is fine, however, the proposal needs to show how it is different from previous work carried out. This could include scaling up previous research or expanding an idea to deliver new outputs.
Do projects have to produce outputs by the end of the project, and if so, what form should these outputs take?
We are keen to support research projects that are able to communicate in an accessible way the findings of research to relevant audiences. The Network encourages outputs to be developed during the course of the project. These might including standard written outputs but also those outside traditional academia including teaching and learning materials, digital, arts based and other resources such as policy papers.
What costs should I consider when planning my project budget?
Your budget should be for directly incurred costs only. These are the costs that arise directly from carrying out the research project and may include:
- Staff costs
- staff, whether named or unnamed, should be requested at a salary level commensurate with the skills, responsibilities, expertise and experience necessary to carry out the proposed research activity.
- Travel and subsistence
- you can include travel and subsistence costs for investigators and staff funded by the project where these are required by the nature of the work. Travel costs should be based on the most suitable and economical form of travel. Subsistence costs should reflect the normal rates that apply in the host research organisation.
- all travel must be paid for AND take place before the end date of the project.
- Other directly incurred costs: these may include –
- fees for fieldwork/subjects/informants
- conference fees (only if the conference is due to take place before the project end date)
- costs for communication, knowledge exchange, public engagement or other impact activities
- costs for certain types of publication, e.g. monographs, books, critical editions, volumes, catalogues, or forms of non-peer-reviewed material; article processing charges (APCs) and other publication charges relating to peer-reviewed research articles and conference proceedings can also be included in research grant proposals
- equipment and survey costs (up to £10,000)
- computer equipment
- where a laptop/tablet is for a new member of staff who is employed purely for the grant; research organisations are expected to provide computers for the Principal and Co-Investigators and for any project research staff on continuing contracts
- where higher specification equipment is required for the completion of specific grant related activities such as data modelling, enhanced graphics etc.; full justification must be provided to support all requests for laptops/tablets and any other computer equipment
The TESF Network Plus wants to help facilitate your application. Whilst we cannot make comments on the academic content of your submission, we can offer assistance about the practical elements such as budgets, formatting and forming a project team.
If you need assistance finding a collaborator or Co-Investigator in any of our partner countries, please send us an email and include a short description of what your project is and the skills and expertise that you are hoping the collaborator will have.
To contact us, please email ku.ca.lotsirb.spuorg@fset-prg and we will direct your query to the relevant person.