Understanding How Education Systems Build Capability, Innovate, and Improve Their Practices

Project team: Matt Andrews, Salimah Samji, Marla Spivack
March 2019-August 2022

presenters at RISE program
Credit: RISE Programme

Despite decades of outstanding progress in increasing school enrollment and attainment for children in developing countries, too many spend years in school without acquiring basic skills in reading and math. Building State Capability (BSC), is focused on understanding why many public organizations lack the capability needed to function and how this capability can be built effectively.  BSC’s engagement with the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Progamme applies this thinking to the learning crisis faced by many countries.

RISE is a multi-year, multi-country, multi-partner project that seeks to understand how school systems in the developing world can overcome the learning crisis and deliver learning for all. Why do some countries’ educations systems deliver poor learning outcomes that are stagnant over time, while others, with similar levels of resources, produce very high levels of learning? Even when systems create conditions coherent for learning, ultimately learning outcomes depend on what happens in the daily interactions between pupils and teachers.  This requires creating schools that have the capability to implement consistently effective learning practices.  This capability must also be supported by effective organizations around schools—that create and deliver learning materials, that do assessments, and that provide training. For every organization that needs particular capabilities for delivery of student learning, there has to be a set of strategies and tactics for expanding those capabilities.

Through this engagement, the BSC team seeks to understand how organizations within systems are able to nominate, evaluate, and adopt innovations—and build the organizational capability to do each of these things—and how systems create the conditions in which organizations are authorized to do these activities and that “good fit” practices diffuse across organizations within the system. Additionally, the team is considering how the PDIA methodology can be applied to create capability by delivering results for the education sector. Finally, BSC is synthesizing messages on innovation in education systems, and contributing to the management of other RISE synthesis activities.