The Africa Early Childhood Network - Africa Early Childhood Research Fellowship Program Movemeback African initiative cover image


The Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN) is a registered Kenya-based, non-profit professional network established in 2015 to serve as a platform for championing and promoting excellence and collaboration in ensuring positive early childhood outcomes in Africa. AfECN achieves this mission by advocating for protection of children's rights, influencing policy and practice, strengthening partnerships, and sharing experiences and knowledge in Early Childhood Development (ECD) on the African continent. AfECN has identified five areas needing improvement to make progress towards large-scale equitable access to early child development programmes in sub-Saharan Africa: advocacy, networking, knowledge generation and dissemination, practice, and leadership.


In 2017, AfECN began implementing a mentorship programme to strengthen ECD research capacity in Africa by supporting early-to-mid-career African scholars (Research Fellows) who can work at the intersection of research, practice and policy to advance early childhood development in the region. Specifically, the aim is to develop capacity in the region for culturally and contextually relevant research to support the level of program implementation necessary to produce high-quality early childhood outcomes. At the same time, AfECN Research Fellows participate in disseminating their work through policy briefs, peer-reviewed articles as well as presentations at conferences, seminars and workshops. 


AfECN also nurtures the combined capacity of a network of research universities across Africa to support scholarship on early childhood development policy generation and programming. To accomplish these goals, AfECN facilitates a regional research network that will promote collaborative relationships across universities and between early career scholars and well-established senior scholars for the purpose of enhancing knowledge generation, management, and dissemination. 
AfECN activities to improve research capacity are being led by a Regional Research Technical Team (RRTT) comprised of accomplished ECD scholars and researchers in the continent. AfECN is currently in the process of recruiting the 3rd Cohort which is planned to have four (4) junior research fellows. The first and second cohorts of Research Fellows were recruited in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The first cohort had 13 research fellows whereas the second cohort had seven (7) research fellows. 


Thematic Research Areas

The research problems should be formulated around the following thematic areas in early childhood education and development.

  • Early learning quality improvement
  • Health system strengthening to support child development outcomes
  • Implementation of ECD Policies and legislation 
  • Safety and protection of young children in difficult circumstances
  • Quality of Childcare Services for children under 3 years.
  • Parent education and empowerment focus on fatherhood


Applicants should be

  • Doctoral degree holders who completed their PhDs within the last five years
  • Not older than 40 years
  • Citizens or established residents in an SSA country
  • Affiliated to African Universities or research institutes
  • In the early stages of their research careers in ECD-related areas. Recommended disciplines include Early Childhood Studies, Social Sciences, Foods, Nutrition & Dietetics, Health Sciences, Communication & Media Studies, and Law

Prospective fellows from French speaking countries are particularly encouraged to apply.

The program will select four Research Fellows among applicants with excellent research ideas that propose innovative approaches to addressing the development of young children.


The benefits of Africa Early Childhood Research Fellowship Program are:

  • Participation in one fully funded face to face meeting of research fellows and mentors
  • Placements with partner agencies in a position to support and benefit from the work of Research Fellow in the areas research interest
  • Seed grants of US$4,500 guided by the fellow’s research plan
  • Guidance from mentors and mentorship groups who will engage with Research Fellows throughout the program including at face to face meetings and bi-monthly telephone conferences
  • Support to attend a conference and to facilitate dissemination of research findings
  • Linkages and connection to research funding opportunities and ECD networks
  • Award of the certificate of completion

About The Africa Early Childhood Network

The Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN) is a registered non-profit, established in 2015 to serve as a platform to champion excellence and collaboration in protecting children's rights, influence policy and practice, strengthen partnerships, and share experiences and knowledge in ECD on the African continent. The network is comprised of organisations from civil society, academia, government, and the private sector at national and regional levels.