RISE Annual Conference 2021


For information about our 2022 conference, please visit our RISE Annual Conference 2022 page.



RISE Annual Conference 2021 information and videos

General information 

Registration information 

View the conference online 


General information

We invite you to register to attend (virtually or in-person), the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme Annual Conference (see the 2019 Annual Conference event page).

The RISE Programme applies systems thinking to education. We seek to understand why learning outcomes in a particular school, district, or country are poor, and why the (system) conditions causing these low learning levels exist. This understanding can then inform attempts to realign the relationships in the education system to be coherent for learning, meaning that every component works together with the goal of improving learning for all.

The RISE Conference will cover a range of themes under the broad umbrella of education systems thinking. It will draw on research undertaken in RISE countries—Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam, as well as other developing countries.

The full event schedule is available on the Conference Programme tab and can be downloaded below. The event will feature eight research sessions and one invited panel, 'Trash This! The Global Education Edition".


Download the conference programme!


Follow the event on Twitter: #RISEConf2021

Registration information

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the RISE Annual Conference will be a hybrid event. The conference will be live-streamed via our main event hub at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. We will also have conference hubs in Abuja, Nigeria and Washington, DC. Virtual participants will be able to join via the Zoom platform.

If you would like to attend the conference either in person or virtually, please fill in the online form.

Email correspondence regarding participation in the conference can be directed to the RISE communications team (rise@bsg.ox.ac.uk).


Register now!

View the conference online

22 September, 13:00 BST: Session 1

22 September, 14:30 BST: Session 2

22 September, 16:15 BST: Session 3

23 September, 13:00 BST: Session 4

23 September, 14:30 BST: Session 5

23 September, 16:15 BST: Invited Panel Session: Trash This! The Global Education Edition

24 September, 13:00 BST: Session 6

24 September, 14:30 BST: Session 7

24 September, 16:15 BST: Session 8


What does “hybrid” mean in relation to the RISE Annual Conference?

The RISE Annual Conference will be using a hybrid format that combines a live in-person event for those in the UK, US and Nigeria, with a virtual online component for those unable to attend in person. The central conference hub will be located at the Blavatnik School, where their experience of hybrid teaching during the pandemic suggests that having some participants physically present in the same room makes the experience more engaging for virtual attendees as well as for those attending in person. 

We will be using the hybrid learning technology at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford to deliver a first-class conference experience.  Among the features of this technology is an AI software that tracks active speakers and uses multi-camera views to ensure a rich and enjoyable experience for those attending online.

Who can join in person?

For those based in the UK, participants can join the conference in person at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Attendees can also join the conference in person at our hubs in Abuja, Nigeria and Washington, DC (venues TBC). Space will be limited at these venues, so please ensure that you register for the conference as soon as possible, indicating you would like to join in-person.

For those attending in person, we will be adhering to local country guidelines related to social distancing and group gatherings. This might mean that we are only allowed to admit a certain number of participants into the event space at a given time. We will work with our event teams to ensure a safe experience for those that are able to attend in person. 

Please note that we will continuously monitor the situation in Nigeria, the UK and the US. First and foremost, our priority is to ensure the health and well-being of our conference participants and team members. We reserve the right to make this conference virtual-only, dependent on the local circumstances.  

All virtual participants will be able to join via the Zoom platform.

How much does it cost to register for the event?

As per previous RISE Annual Conferences, this event will be free to attend. Please register to attend the conference by filling in our online form and indicate whether you are interested in virtual or in-person participation. Further information regarding virtual and in-person participation will be released in due course.

Questions about the RISE Annual Conference?

Please send any additional questions to rise@bsg.ox.ac.uk.


Event Programme

Programme Schedule

The RISE Annual Conference 2021 will run from 13:00 to 17:30 BST on 22 and 23 September, and 13:00 to 17:45 BST on 24 September. Please click the links below to jump to each day's schedule, or scroll down for the full programme.

Wednesday, 22 September 

Thursday, 23 September 

Friday, 24 September 


Download the conference programme!


Wednesday, 22 September (all times BST)

12:45  virtual login

13:00  Session 1: Assessment: Citizen-led and Other

Chair: Luis Crouch (RISE; RTI International)

Do High-Stakes Exams Promote Consistent Educational Standards? (video)

  • Presenter: Might K. Abreh (Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, University of Cape Coast)
  • Co-authors: Jack Rossiter (Center for Global Development), Aisha Aliy (Center for Global Development), Justin Sandefur (Center for Global Development)

Expanding Citizen Voice in Education Systems Accountability: Evidence from the Citizen-Led Learning Assessments Movement (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Sehar Saeed (Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi; ASER Pakistan)
  • Co-authors: Monazza Aslam (University College London), Patricia Scheid (The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) and Dana Schmidt (The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

In Need of Fresh Thinking: What Pratham’s Experience of Mobilising Communities Says about Current Development Thinking about Community Participation in Education (video)

  • Presenter: Masooda Bano (RISE; University of Oxford)

14:15  Break

14:30  Session 2: Parental Involvement and the Demand for Education

Chair: Jason Silberstein (RISE; Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Nozomi Nakajima (Harvard University)
  • Co-authors: Felipe Barrera-Osorio (RISE; Vanderbilt University), Paul Gertler (University of California, Berkeley; NBER), Harry Patrinos (World Bank)

Origins of the Demand for Education: Evidence from Early Schools in Nigeria (video)

  • Presenter: Gábor Nyéki (RISE; African School of Economics)
  • Co-authors: Dozie Okoye (RISE; Dalhousie University) and Léonard Wantchékon (RISE; African School of Economics; Princeton University)

Do Higher Aspirations Lead to Greater Learning? Evidence from West Africa and a Cautionary Tale About the Standard Deviation (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Alex Eble (Columbia University)
  • Co-author: Maya Escueta (Columbia University)

Community-Wide Support for Primary Students to Improve Learning: Empirical Evidence from Madagascar (slidesvideo)

  • Presenter: Takao Maruyama (Hiroshima University)
  • Co-authors: Kengo Igei (Metrics Work Consultants, Inc.) and Seiichi Kurokawa (Japan International Cooperation Agency)

16:00  Break

16:15  Session 3: Politics

Chair: Marla Spivack (RISE, Center for International Development at Harvard University)

The Political Economy of the Learning Crisis in Indonesia (video)

  • Presenter: Andrew Rosser (RISE; University of Melbourne)
  • Co-authors: Phil King (GRM International) and Danang Widoyoko (Australian National Unviersity)

Vietnam: Exploring the Politics of Learning (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Jonathan London (RISE; Leiden University)
  • Co-author: Duong Bich Hang (RISE; University of Minnesota)

Do Education Systems Trust Decentralization? Evidence from Survey Experiments in Nepal (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Shwetlena Sabarwal (RISE; World Bank)
  • Co-authors: Uttam Sharma (World Bank), Maya Sherpa (World Bank), Unika Shrestha (Asian Development Bank), Laxman Timilsina (City University of New York),and Vatsal Nahata (World Bank)

Thursday, 23 September (all times BST)

12:45  virtual login

13:00  Session 4: Management

Chair: Renata Lemos (RISE; World Bank)

Improving School Management of Bullying (video)

  • Presenter: Gabriela Smarrelli (University of Oxford)

School Governance Reform at Scale - Experimental Evidence from Tanzania (video)

  • Presenter: Jacobus Cilliers (RISE; Georgetown University)
  • Co-author: James Habyarimana (RISE; Georgetown University)

The Diffusion of Education Policy Ideas: Survey Experiments with Policymakers in 36 Developing Countries (video)

  • Presenter: Lee Crawfurd (Center for Global Development)
  • Co-authors: Susannah Hares (Center for Global Development), Ana Minardi (Center for Global Development), Justin Sandefur (RISE; Center for Global Development)

14:15  Break

14:30  Session 5: Equity and Choice

Chair: Clare Leaver (RISE; Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

The Equilibrium Effects of Grants to Public Schools (video)

  • Presenter: Naureen Karachiwalla (IFPRI)
  • Co-authors: Jishnu Das (RISE; Georgetown University), Natalie Bau (RISE; UCLA; NBER; CEPR), Tahir Andrabi (RISE; Pomona College), Asim Khwaja (RISE; Harvard University)

Making Public Schools Less Selective: Implications for Equity and Learning in Indonesia (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Amanda Beatty (RISE; Mathematica Policy Research)
  • Co-authors: Emilie Berkhout (RISE; Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development), Sirojuddin Arif (RISE; SMERU Research Institute), Goldy Dharmawan (RISE; SMERU Research Institute), Menno Pradhan (RISE; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; University of Amsterdam), Daniel Suryadarma (RISE; Asian Development Bank), Florischa Tresnatri (RISE; SMERU Research Institute)

When Quality Improvement Doesn’t Raise Learning Outcomes:  Puzzles of Education Reform in Ethiopia (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Dawit Tibebu Tiruneh (RISE; University of Cambridge) and Caine Rolleston (RISE; University College London)
  • Co-author: Moses Oketch (RISE; University College London)

Can New Learning Opportunities Reshape Gender Attitudes for Girls? Field Evidence from Tanzania (slides; video)

  • Presenter: So Yoon Ahn (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Co-authors: Youjin Hahn (Yonsei University) and Semee Yoon (Yonsei University)

16:00  Break

16:15  Invited Panel Session: Trash This! The Global Education Edition

Moderator: Tina Musoke (Consultant)


  • Léonard Wantchékon (RISE; African School of Economics; Princeton University)
  • Rukmini Banerji (RISE; Pratham)
  • Jishnu Das (RISE; Georgetown University)

Friday, 24 September (all times BST)

12:45  virtual login

13:00  Session 6: COVID learning loss

Chair: Nic Spaull (RISE; Stellenbosch University)

COVID-19 Learning Losses: Early Grade Reading in South Africa (video)

  • Presenter: Gabrielle Wills (Stellenbosch University)
  • Co-authors: Janeli Kotze (RISE; Department of Basic Education, South Africa) and Cally Ardington (University of Cape Town)

School's Out: Experimental Evidence on Limiting Learning Loss Using "Low-Tech" in a Pandemic (video)

  • Presenter: Moitshepi Matsheng (Young 1ove)
  • Co-authors: Noam Angrist (University of Oxford; Young 1ove), Peter Bergman (Columbia University) 

Telementoring and Homeschooling During Covid-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Experiment in Rural Bangladesh (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Abu Siddique (Technical University of Munich)
  • Co-authors: Hashibul Hassan (Monash University), Asad Islam (Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability; Monash University), Liang Choon Wang (Monash University)

14:15  Break

14:30  Session 7: Instructional Coherence

Chair: Pieter Serneels (RISE; University of East Anglia)

System (In)Coherence: Quantifying the Alignment of Primary Education Curriculum Standards, Examinations, and Instruction in Two East African Countries (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Julius Atuhurra (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Twaweza East Africa)
  • Co-author: Michelle Kaffenberger (RISE; Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

Optimising Instruction: Randomised Evaluations of Pedagogical Approaches to Targeted Teaching and Learning in New Globe Schools in Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Uganda (slides; video)

  • Presenter: Joost de Laat (Utrecht University)
  • Co-authors: Michael Kremer (University of Chicago), Guthrie Gray-Lobe (Development Innovation Lab), Karlijn Morsink (Utrecht University), Noam Angrist (University of Oxford; Young 1ove), Sean Geraghty (Bridge), Tim Sullivan (New Globe)

Improving Schooling Productivity Through Computer-Aided Instruction: Experimental Evidence from Rajasthan (video)

  • Presenter: Abhijeet Singh (RISE; Stockholm School of Economics)
  • Co-author: Karthik Muralidharan (RISE; University of California, San Diego)

    Getting the Basics Right: Integrating Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Methodology into Education Systems in Zambia (slides; video)

    • Presenter: Devyani Pershad (Pratham)
    • Co-authors: Ashleigh Morrell (JPAL Africa), Laura Poswell (JPAL Africa), Varja Lipovsek (Co-Impact), Abe Grindle (Co-Impact)

    16:00  Break

    16:15  Session 8: Teachers and Teacher Effectiveness

    Chair: Yue-Yi Hwa (RISE; Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

    Learning to Teach by Learning to Learn (slides; video)

    • Presenter: Vesall Nourani (University of Chicago)
    • Co-authors: Nava Ashraf (London School of Economics) and Abhijit Banerjee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    Value-Added Estimates for Primary Schools in Vietnam (video)

    • Presenter: Sonya Krutikova (RISE; Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    • Co-authors: Paul Glewwe (RISE; University of Minnesota), Pedro Carneiro (RISE; University College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies), Anusha Guha (University College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies)

    Improving Public Sector Service Delivery: The Importance of Management (video)

    • Presenter: Sabrin Beg (University of Delaware)
    • Co-authors: Anne Fitzpatrick (University of Massachusetts Boston) and Adrienne M. Lucas (University of Delaware)

    The Myth of Teacher Shortage in India (video)

    • Presenters: Sandip Datta (Delhi School of Economics) and Geeta Gandhi Kingdon (University College London)


    Speaker Bios

    Might K. Abreh (Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, University of Cape Coast)

    Might Kojo Abreh is a Non-Resident Fellow at Centre for Global Development (CGD); and a Senior Research Fellow and Head of Grants and Consultancy, Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (IEPA), University of Cape Coast (UCC). As a UNESCO Category II institute specialises in Educational Planning for the West African sub-region. Might's research interest includes education, school and learning improvement, education sector-wide needs assessment, as well as policy planning, preparation, and implementation.

    So Yoon Ahn (University of Illinois at Chicago)

    So Yoon Ahn is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her primary research interests include family economics, gender economics, labour economics, and development economics. She is interested in how households make decisions in different contexts. Her current work focuses on the impacts of cross-border marriages on marriage markets and households. She is also interested in how to reshape gender norms in developing countries.

    Julius Atuhurra (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Twaweza East Africa)

    Julius Atuhurra is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and a Programme Officer on the “What Works in Education” project with Twaweza East Africa. His research focuses on educational development and learning profiles in developing countries.

    Abu Siddique (Technical University of Munich)

    Abu Siddique is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Economics at the Technical University of Munich (Germany). He holds a PhD in Economics and a MSc in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Southampton (UK). His main research interest lies in the field of development economics. He is currently working on ethnic discrimination, mental health, preference formation, and the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in developing countries.

    Rukmini Banerji (RISE, Pratham)

    Rukmini Banerji is a member of the RISE Intellectual Leadership Team and CEO of Pratham Education Foundation. She completed her BA at St. Stephen’s College and attended the Delhi School of Economics (DSE). She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and earned her PhD at the University of Chicago. She joined Pratham in 1996 as part of the leadership team. There, she led the organisation’s research and assessment efforts, which have included the internationally acknowledged Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). She served as director of the ASER Centre in New Delhi for 10 years.

    Masooda Bano (RISE, University of Oxford)

    Masooda Bano is the Research Lead for the RISE Political Economy (Implementation) team. She is a Professor of Development Studies at the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Her primary area of interest is in studying the role of ideas and beliefs in development processes and their evolution and change.

    Amanda Beatty (RISE, Mathematica Policy Research)

    Amanda Beatty is an International Consultant on the RISE Indonesia team. She is a Senior Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. Before joining Mathematica in 2012, she was an education economist with the World Bank in Indonesia, where she led randomised evaluations of nationwide government programmes, including a nationwide initiative to upgrade teacher qualifications at the primary and secondary levels; early childhood service expansion to poor communities; and efforts to enhance the effectiveness of school committees and school management through community engagement.

    Sabrin Beg (University of Delaware)

    Sabrin Beg is an Assistant Professor in the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware. She has a PhD in Economics from Yale University, with a primary area of expertise in development, economic history, political economy, and applied microeconomics. She is currently working on projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, and India.

    Jacobus Cilliers (RISE, Georgetown University)

    Jacobus Cilliers is researcher on the RISE Tanzania team and an Assistant Teaching Professor at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy. Prior to joining McCourt, he worked for the Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund at the World Bank and was also a visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford. His research is in the area of applied micro-econometrics for development, with a focus on basic education service delivery.

    Lee Crawfurd (Center for Global Development)

    Lee Crawfurd is a Research Fellow with CGD’s global education team. Previously he was an economist and advisor with the governments of Rwanda, South Sudan, and the UK. He has also worked as a consultant for international organisations and NGOs including the World Bank, AfDB, and ADB. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Sussex and has studied at the University of Oxford and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

    Luis Crouch (RISE, RTI international)

    Luis Crouch is the Senior Economist at RTI’s International Development Group and a member of the RISE Research Directorate. He specialises in education policy, decentralised finance (e.g., funding formulas), political economy of reform, education statistics, planning, and projections. He has experience in all key areas of education data analysis, from the generation of primary data via surveys and citizen input, to statistical and econometric analysis, to evidence-based, Cabinet-level policy dialogue.

    Jishnu Das (RISE, Georgetown University)

    Jishnu Das is a Principal Investigator on the RISE Pakistan team and a Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His work focuses on health and education in low- and middle-income countries, with an emphasis on social markets, or common, but complex, conflagrations of public and private education and health providers operating in a small geographical space. He was previously a Lead Economist at the World Bank’s Development Research Group, where his research focused on the delivery of quality education and health services.

    Sandip Datta (Delhi School of Economics)

    Sandip Datta is an Assistant Professor in the Delhi School of Economics at the University of Delhi. His research interests lie in the economics of education, health, politics, development, and labour. He graduated with a PhD in Economics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India.

    Joost de Laat (Utrecht University)

    Joost de Laat is an economics Professor at Utrecht University. He is an applied micro-economist interested in understanding the drivers of inequality and the policy (and behavioural options) to address inequalities in low- and middle-income countries. His work straddles research, policy, and teaching. He is currently the Chair of Global Economic Challenges at the Utrecht School of Economics and Director of the Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges.

    Alex Eble (Columbia University)

    Alex Eble is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Columbia University's Graduate School of Education, Teachers College. He works in the fields of development and applied microeconomics with a focus on the economics of education in the developing world. He is also affiliated with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, and Effective Intervention at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance.

    Yue-Yi Hwa (RISE; Bavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

    Yue-Yi Hwa is a RISE Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, focusing on teachers and management. She received her PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. Her Ph.D. thesis looked at the relationship between teacher accountability policy and socio-cultural context across countries, using secondary survey data on education and culture alongside interviews with teachers in Finland and Singapore. Previously, Yue-Yi taught secondary school English for two years through Teach For Malaysia, and was a Research Fellow for the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur.

    Naureen Karachiwalla (International Food Policy Research Institute)

    Naureen Karachiwalla is a Research Fellow in the Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division (PHND) of IFPRI and is a non-resident Fellow at the Consortium for Development Policy Research (CDPR). She uses experimental and quasi-experimental methods to examine how policy design can improve public service delivery and reduce poverty. She studies how governments can improve their own service delivery and how they can leverage the private sector to improve overall service delivery. She has studied these issues in the context of education, social protection, and agriculture.

    Geeta Kingdon (RISE, University College London)

    Geeta Gandhi Kingdon is professor at the UCL Institute of Education, where she holds the Chair of Education and International Development.  Prior to this, she worked for 10 years at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford. Her research interests are in economics of education in developing countries. She has investigated school effectiveness, gender in education, labour market outcomes of education, and the political economy of education.

    Sonya Krutikova (RISE, Institute for Fiscal Studies)

    Sonya Krutikova is a researcher on the RISE Vietnam team. She is the Programme Director of the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policies (EDePo) at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Research Associate at the Department of International Development (ODID), University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the determinants of skill acquisition among children and young people living in poverty, as well as more broadly the mechanisms through which childhood conditions manifest in child development and outcomes.

    Clare Leaver (RISE; Bavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

    Clare Leaver is the RISE Research Coordinator, an associate professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, and a Fellow of University College. Much of Clare’s research focuses on careers and incentives within the public sector. In current work, she is examining the effectiveness of alternative approaches to service delivery in fragile settings, focusing on how best to incorporate contributions from non-state providers while allowing the state to retain and strengthen its stewardship.

    Renata Lemos (RISE, World Bank)

    Renata Lemos is a RISE Fellow and a senior economist at the World Bank Education Global Practice. Her current work focuses on providing research-driven policy advice and support on public sector management to governments in Latin American countries. More broadly, her interests include topics in the intersection of managerial and organizational economics and development economics.

    Jonathan London (RISE, Leiden University)

    Jonathan D. London is a researcher on the RISE Vietnam team and an Associate Professor of global political economy at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He has previously held positions at the City University of Hong Kong and Nanyang Technological University. His research interests span the fields of comparative political economy, development studies, and the political economy of welfare and stratification.

    Takao Maruyama (Hiroshima University)

    Takao Maruyama is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan. His research focuses on the impacts of aid for educational development and how aid agencies can effectively utilise evidence for improving and scaling up operations.

    Moitshepi Matsheng (Young 1ove)

    Moitshepi Matsheng is a social innovator focused on designing sustainable solutions for youth development. She is a Co–founder of Young 1ove and currently serves as the organisation’s Country Coordinator. She was recognised by former Botswana President Festus Mogae as a pioneer of the Champions For an AIDS Free Generation. Her work with Young 1ove also earned her recognition as one of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth to receive the prestigious Queen's Young Leaders Award for exceptional youth making an impact in their communities.

    Tina Musoke (Consultant)

    Tina Musoke is a global communications and public relations consultant. She has over 20 years of experience in strategic communications and global issues-based, social impact campaigns. She has implemented effective communication strategies on a range of global and local issues including health, education, climate change, behaviour change, poverty, and inequalities-- in over 80 different countries.

    Nozomi Nakajima (Harvard University)

    Nozomi Nakajima is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy & Program Evaluation at Harvard University. Her research focuses on improving evidence-based decision-making in education for families, schools, and policymakers. She is also a Stone Ph.D. Scholar in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy and a graduate student affiliate at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

    Vesall Nourani (University of Chicago)

    Vesall Nourani is a development economist whose research focuses on the role of knowledge and learning in economic activity across sub-Saharan Africa. He is a Senior Research Associate in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. He is also a Director at the Development Innovations Lab at the University of Chicago and holds academic affiliations at Makerere University in Uganda (visiting lecturer) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (research collaborator).

    Gábor Nyéki (African School of Economics)

    Gábor Nyéki  is a member of the RISE Tanzania research team, a recurring visiting scholar at Princeton University’s politics department, and an assistant professor at the African School of Economics. His research focuses on political economy, development economics, the economics of social networks, and unequal societies.

    Devyani Pershad (Pratham)

    Devyani Pershad is the Head of Pratham’s International Collaborations unit. She leads technical strategy and approach, and manages partner relationships across several TaRL Africa countries. She is also responsible for building donor relationships and grant management. She further provides strategic oversight for TaRL in Côte d’Ivoire.

    Caine Rolleston (University College London)

    Caine Rolleston is a member of the RISE Intellectual Leadership Team, a member of the RISE Ethiopia team, and a member of the RISE Vietnam team. He is a Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development at University College London Institute of Education (UCL-IOE). He has worked on education and international development in a range of countries including Ghana, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Peru, India and Sri Lanka.

    Andrew Rosser (RISE, University of Melbourne)

    Andrew Rosser is an International Consultant on the RISE Indonesia team. He is a Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Melbourne, based in the Asia Research Centre. His research is focused on analysing the politics of economic liberalisation in Indonesia during the New Order and early post-New Order periods and the causes and consequences of the 1997-1998 Asian economic crisis.

    Shwetlena Sabarwal (RISE, World Bank)

    Shwetlena Sabarwal is a researcher on the RISE Tanzania team and a Senior Economist at the World Bank. She is a principal author for World Bank’s World Development Report 2019 on the ‘Changing Nature of Work’ and World Development Report 2018 on ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’. She is a core team member for World Bank’s ‘Human Capital Index’ and has led World Bank’s education engagement in Tanzania, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

    Sehar Saeed (Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, ASER Pakistan)

    Sehar Saeed has been working in the field of education for the last eight years. She is a project management and implementation specialist, a passionate advocate of providing access to quality education systems for all children. She is presently working as Deputy Director Research at ITA, a leading NGO, and oversees large scale surveys, service delivery programmes, and impact evaluations, etc. As part of a geographically widespread portfolio, her work extends beyond research into policy and implementation in the field.

    Pieter Serneels (RISE, University of East Anglia)

    Pieter Serneels is a RISE Fellow and a Professor of Economics at the University of East Anglia. His research focuses on human capital, behavioural economics, and political economy in low- and middle-income countries. He provides research advice to the RISE Programme and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as their Economics Senior Research Fellow. He is an executive member of CBESS, Research Fellow at the IZA, EUDN and EGAP, and Research Associate at CSAE.

    Jason Silberstein (RISE; Bavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

    Jason Silberstein is a Research Fellow for RISE at the Blavatnik School of Government. His research explores the relationship between schools and the communities they serve. Before joining RISE, he worked as a consultant to the governments of Ethiopia and Ghana on reforms aimed at strengthening accountability in their education systems, and spent 18 months as a policy advisor in the Myanmar Ministry of Education.

    Abhijeet Singh (Stockholm School of Economics)

    Abhijeet Singh is a Principal Investigator on the RISE India team and an Associate Professor of Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). His research focuses on the analysis of education systems and interventions in developing countries and has been published in leading journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of the European Economic Association, and the Journal of Development Economics.

    Gabriela Smarrelli (University of Oxford)

    Gabriela Smarrelli is a PhD Candidate at the Department of International Development at Oxford University. Her primary research fields are development economics, economics of education, and public administration. She uses applied microeconomics and econometrics to explore and understand what works, when, and how, with the aim of informing the design and implementation of public policy.

    Nic Spaull (RISE, Stellenbosch University)

    Nic Spaull is a RISE Fellow and Associate Professor of Economics in the Economics Department at Stellenbosch University. His research centres on education policy in South Africa with a focus on inequality and early grade literacy and numeracy. In 2020, Nic initiated the National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), a nationwide consortium of more than 30 researchers from six universities, to measure the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa. He also founded "Funda Wande: Reading for Meaning" an influential non-profit organisation focusing on early grade reading and mathematics.

    Marla Spivack (RISE; Center for International Development, Harvard University)

    Marla Spivack is the Research Manager of RISE and a Research Fellow on the Building State Capability programme at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. She leads an array of research activities focused on synthesising the findings of RISE country team work. Prior to joining RISE, she worked on social protection, rural development, and micro-credit programmes with government agencies and the World Bank in a range of contexts.

    Dawit Tibebu Tiruneh (RISE, Cambridge University)

    Dawit Tibebu Tiruneh is a researcher on the RISE Ethiopia team. He is a Research Associate at the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. His work mainly involves the quantitative aspect of the research and development and validation of instruments. His research interests include the design, development and evaluation of instructional interventions for higher-order thinking skills; development and validation of research instruments; and general education in Ethiopia.

    Leonard Wantchekon (RISE, Princeton University, African School of Economics)

    Leonard Wantchekon is Principal Investigator for the RISE Nigeria team and a professor of politics and associated faculty in economics at Princeton University. He has research interests in the economics of education, clientelism and redistributive politics, the resource curse, and the long-term social impact of historical events. He founded the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy and the African School of Economics (ASE) in Benin in January 2004 and September 2014, respectively.

    Gabrielle Wills (Stellenbosch University)

    Gabrielle Wills is an education economist and researcher with Research on Socio-Economic Policy, in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She has been involved in various research projects and capacity development initiatives for local and international organisations, including the South African Presidency, the South African Department of Basic Education, the Ministry of Education in Namibia, UNICEF and local philanthropy organisations.

    Call for Papers


    The 2021 RISE Conference will cover a range of themes under the broad umbrella of education systems thinking. It will draw on research undertaken in RISE countries—Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam. In addition, we are issuing an open call for papers from researchers working on these and any other developing countries.

    Conference themes

    Submissions are invited in any area of research relating to education systems, including all themes at past RISE conferences. Papers touching on the following topics are particularly welcome:

    • Accountability versus autonomy—What are the merits and demerits of top-down, high-stakes accountability schemes in the education sector, and how do these schemes compare to initiatives that grant agents greater autonomy?
    • Management—Can management reforms, at any level of the system, realign relationships to be more coherent for learning?
    • Distributed authority—Can education systems successfully distribute authority (e.g., standard setting by the centre, accounts of performance by the district or school)? What are the constraints, political or administrative, that undermine such attempts?
    • Instructional (in)coherence—In what ways and why is classroom instruction so often incoherent for learning? What additional challenges have been raised by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

    RISE is keen to solicit academic papers presenting original research on these topics from across the social science disciplines/methodologies. We also welcome submissions based on evidence constituting experiential reflections that will directly inform the discussion of these topics.

    Submission information

    Full papers should be submitted by Friday, 25 June 2021 to rise@bsg.ox.ac.uk. Abstracts will be considered for inclusion.  Authors of accepted papers will be notified no later than 23 July 2021.

    RISE conference themes 2016-2019

    • Information and Assessment (e.g., What changes occur when key actors in the system—civil servants, principals, teachers, parents—are given better information about learning outcomes? What is measured, how well, and how is this information used?)
    • Financing and Resources (e.g., Do schools lack access to credit and/or support services? What changes occur when any such constraints are relaxed? How are schools funded by government, parents, and communities?)
    • Teachers (e.g., How can the education system support individuals to become effective teachers and ensure that the best teachers remain in the schools that need them? How are teachers recruited, and how are they trained and supported?)
    • Curriculum (e.g., Is teaching taking place at the right level? What is being taught in classrooms? Which curricula and teaching methods are proving in/effective?)
    • Governance (e.g., How do system features such as the degree of school autonomy and stakeholder engagement affect teacher behaviour, and learning outcomes?)
    • The Political Economy of Reform (e.g., What are the key political obstacles to adopting learning-oriented education reforms, and how have some systems overcome them? What problems of implementation arise during piloting and at scale, and how can these challenges be tackled?)
    • Demand for Education (e.g., What are stakeholders demanding from education systems? Can stakeholders provide demand-side accountability that drives up education quality?)
    • Alternative Modalities of Provision (e.g., What role, if any, should non-state actors play in school finance and/or management? Can private schools, or public-private partnerships, be an effective alternative to conventional state schools, and if so, how should they be designed, governed, or regulated?)
    • Learning Inequalities and Social Mobility (e.g., How should we measure learning to draw meaningful comparisons across groups and countries, and over time? Where do learning inequalities exist, and why? How, and to what extent, can more equitable learning contribute to better life outcomes?)
    • Innovation (e.g., Are education systems generating, evaluating, and scaling system-wide innovations in learning, and if not, why not?)