System coherence for learning: applications of the RISE education systems framework

Author(s): Kaffenberger, Michelle; Spivack, Marla

Date: 2022

Pages: 19 p.

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In recent decades, education systems in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have rapidly expanded access to schooling, but learning has lagged behind. There are many reasons for low learning in LMICs. Proximate determinants (such as insufficient financing or poor school management) receive much attention, but focus on these often ignores underlying system drivers. In this paper, we use a systems approach to describe underlying system dynamics that drive learning outcomes. To do so, we first describe the RISE education systems framework and then apply it to two cases. In the case of Sobral, Brazil, the systems framework illustrates how a coherent package of reforms, improving upon multiple system components, produced positive outcomes. In the case of Indonesia, a reform that increased teacher pay, but did not change underlying system dynamics, had no impact on learning. The paper shows how a systems approach can help to understand success, diagnose failure, and inform action to bring about improvements to children’s learning.

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