RISE Annual Conference 2023


RISE Annual Conference 2023 Information

General information

We invite you to express your interest in attending the 2023 Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme Annual Conference. Attendees can join the proceedings in Oxford (UK) or virtually.

The RISE Conference will cover a range of themes under the broad umbrella of education systems thinking. 


Download the conference programme!


Follow the event on social media: #RISEConf2023

Registration information

The RISE Annual Conference 2023 will be held at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, UK from 21-22 September 2023. Attendees can also join the proceedings virtually.

Due to limited space at the venue, we will now operate a waiting list for in-person participation. We will continue to allocate spaces for virtual participants. Please register your interest in attending the event as soon as possible.


Register your interest in attending

Conference livestream


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, with a virtual online component for those unable to attend in person. The central conference hub will be located at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and will feature hybrid learning technology 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?

Participants can apply to join the conference in person at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Space is limited at the venue, so please ensure that you register your interest in attending the conference as soon as possible, indicating you would like to join in-person. 

All virtual participants will be able to join via the Slido platform. Joining instructions will be issued once your place is confirmed.

How much does it cost to register for the event?

As per previous RISE Annual Conferences, this event will be free to attend. If you are not allocated a space in the conference, you can still view the event via the YouTube livestreams which will be available via this event page.

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 2023 will run from 09:00 to 18:30 BST on 21 September, and 09:00 to 17:00 BST on 22 September. Please click the links below to jump to each day's schedule, or scroll down for the full programme.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Friday, 22 September 2023


Download the conference programme!


Thursday, 21 September (all times BST)

08:30 Registration & Coffee

09:00 Session 1: Teachers - Recruitment, Placement, Motivation

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

The Effect of High Dismissal Protection on Bureaucratic Turnover and Productivity

  • Presenter: María Lombardi (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella)
  • Co-author: Ricardo Estrada
  • Slide deck

The Potential of Smart Matching Platforms in Teacher Assignment: The Case of Ecuador

  • Presenter: Gregory Elacqua (Inter-American Development Bank)
  • Co-authors: Leidy Gomez, Thomas Krussig, Luana Marotta, Carolina Mendez, Christopher Neilson
  • Slide deck

Rule-Based Civil Service: Evidence from a Nationwide Teacher Reform in Mexico

  • Presenter: Ricardo Estrada (CAF‚ Development Bank of Latin America)
  • Co-authors: Juan Bedoya, Rafael de Hoyos

How Much Do I Matter? Teacher Beliefs about Education Production

  • Presenter: Jalnidh Kaur (Teachers College Columbia University)

10:30 Break

11:00 Session 2: Teachers – Training and Support 

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

Does Effective School Leadership Improve Student Progression and Test Scores? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Malawi

  • Presenter: Salman Asim (World Bank)
  • Co-authors: Stefan Dercon, Donna Harris, Ravinder Casley Gera

Why Programs Fail: Lessons for Improving Public Service Quality from a Mixed-Methods Evaluation of an Unsuccessful Teacher Training Program in Nepal

  • Presenter: Paul Glewwe (University of Minnesota)
  • Co-authors: Julie Schaffner, Uttam Sharma
  • Slide deck

RISE and Refine: Diagnosing Teacher Management Policies and Practices in Jordan

  • Presenter: Lindsay Brown (New York University Global TIES for Children)
  • Co-authors: Emilee Rauschenberger, Celine Ammash, Hala Sarabi

The Fragmentation of Local Government and Education Performance—Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Tanzania

  • Presenter: James Habyarimana (Georgetown University)
  • Co-authors: Jacobus Cilliers and Martin Hiti

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Session 3: Foundational Learning and Instructional Coherence

Chair: Julius Atuhurra (RISE; Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

Improving Reading Proficiency in Early Childhood Education Classrooms: Evidence from Liberia

  • Presenter: Mico Rudasingwa (IDInsight)
  • Co-authors: Michael Sebele, Jeffery McManus, Mtise Mwanza, Leah Mwai

Foundational Learning and Mental Health: Empirical Evidence from Botswana

  • Presenter: Jennifer Opare-Kumi (Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

The ‘9th – 10th Dipole System’ That Constitutes High School in Marginalized Contexts in Tamil Nadu, India

  • Presenter: Miriam S. Thangaraj (Azim Premji University)

Instructional Alignment in Nigeria using the Surveys of Enacted Curriculum

  • Presenter: Adedeji Adeniran (Centre for the Study of the Economy of Africa)
  • Co-authors: Sixtus C. Onyekwere, Anthony Okon, Julius Atuhurra, Rastee Chaudhry, Michelle Kaffenberger

15:00 Break

15:30 Session 4: Implementation

Chair: Renata Lemos (World Bank)

Building Resilient Education Systems: Evidence from Large-Scale Randomized Trials in Five Countries

  • Presenter: Claire Cullen (University of Oxford, Youth Impact)
  • Co-authors: Noam Angrist, Micheal Ainomugisha, Sai Pramod Bathena, Peter Bergman, Colin Crossley, Thato Letsomo, Moitshepi Matsheng, Rene Marlon Panti, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Tim Sullivan

Implementation Matters: Generalizing Treatment Effects in Education

  • Presenter: Noam Angrist (Youth Impact)
  • Co-author: Rachael Meager

What Can Delivery Approaches to Implementation Deliver? Insights from a Mixed Methods Study of the Ghanaian Education System

  • Presenter: Zahra Mansoor (University of Bristol)
  • Co-authors: Minahil Asim, Sheena Bell, Michael Boakye-Yiadom, Clare Leaver, Karen Mundy, Christopher Mensah Adosi, Hope Pius Nudzor, Maria Pia Iocco

16:45 Break

17:00 Invited Session: Education Research - From Systems Thinking to a Science of Implementation

Moderator: Laura Savage (International Education Funders Group)


  • Rachel Hinton (UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
  • Nompumelelo Mohohlwane (Department of Basic Education, Government of South Africa)
  • Lant Pritchett (former RISE Research Director)

18:30 Drinks Reception

Friday, 22 September (all times BST)

08:30 Registration & Coffee

09:00 Session 5: Inequality; Technology

Chair: Barbara Bruns (Georgetown University)

Gender and the Return to School in Kenya

  • Presenter: Victoria Isika (Innovations for Poverty Action)
  • Co-author: Sarah Kabay
  • Slide deck

Mechanisms to Reduce Racial Inequality Gaps in Brazilian Education

  • Presenter: Laura Duarte Ogando (Lemann Foundation)
  • Co-author: Andre Liboreiro, Daniel de Bonis

Explaining the Productivity Paradox: Experimental Evidence from Educational Technology

  • Presenter: Andreas de Barros (University of California, Irvine)
  • Slide deck

The Mode of Testing and Learning Outcomes: Evidence from In-Person and Phone Tests

  • Presenter: Khandekur Wahedur Rahman (University of Oxford)
  • Co-author: Marjan Hossain

10:30 Break

11:00 Session 6: Long-Term Trajectories of Change

Chair: Michelle Kaffenberger (Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)

Purpose-Driven Education System Transformations: History Lessons from Korea and Japan

  • Presenter: Deborah Spindelman (University of Cambridge)
  • Co-author: Luis Crouch
  • Slide deck

Enablers of Coalitions & Political Will in India and Brazil

Which Aspects of Educational Reforms in Ethiopia Have Promoted Equitable Achievements in Mathematics?

  • Presenter: Mesele Araya (University of Cambridge)
  • Co-authors: John Hoddinott, Tassew Woldehanna, Ricardo Sabates,Dawit T. Tiruneh, and Nurullah Eryilmaz

Fadeout and Growth: Long-Term Impacts of an Effective Early Grade Reading Intervention in South Africa

  • Presenter: Stephen Taylor (Department of Basic Education, South Africa)
  • Co-authors: Jonathan M. B. Stern, Matthew C. H. Jukes, Brahm Fleisch, Jacobus Cilliers, Nompumelelo Mohohlwane
  • Slide deck

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Session 7: Education and Later Life Outcomes

Chair: Pieter Serneels (University of East Anglia)

Reading for Life: Lasting Impacts of a Literacy Intervention in Uganda

  • Presenter: Ricardo Montero (University of Minnesota)
  • Co-authors: Julie Buhl-Wiggers, Jason T. Kerwin, Jeffrey Smith, Rebecca Thornton

Late-Childhood Foundational Cognitive Skills Predict Educational Outcomes through Adolescence and into Young Adulthood: Evidence from Ethiopia and Peru

  • Presenter: Jennifer Lopez (GRADE)
  • Co-authors: Jere Behrman, Santiago Cueto Caballero, Marta Favara, Alan Sanchez
Education and Voting Tendencies: Evidence from Rural Bangladesh
  • Presenter: Rubaiya Murshed (University of Cambridge)
  • Co-author: Ricardo Sabates

14:45 Break

15:00 Session 8: COVID and Out of School Children

Chair: Marla Spivack (World Bank)

Behaviorally-Designed Messages Encouraging Caregivers to Send Their Children (Particularly Daughters) Back to School Post-COVID-19 Closures Improved School Attendance in Uganda

  • Presenter: Carolina Better (ideas42)
  • Co-author: Katherine Flaschen

Young Women Returning to School in Sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Presenter: Andreas Backhaus (Federal Institute for Population Research [BiB])

The Impact of COVID-19 on School Choice and Household Education Expenditures: Evidence from India

  • Presenter: Ashutosh Bhuradia (Harvard University)
  • Co-authors: Emmerich Davies, Fei Yuan

16:15 Closing Remarks

Clare Leaver (Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford), Lant Pritchett (former RISE Research Director)

Speaker Bios

Adedeji Adeniran is currently the Director of Research at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA). He holds a Ph.D from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He also holds a Masters’ and bachelor’s degree in Economics and Educational Management/Economics from the University of Ibadan. His research work focuses on a broad range of topics including Data Governance and AI, Human Capital Development, and Sustainable Development issues in Africa. As a mixed-methods researcher, he has extensive experience in leading policy-oriented research projects that span multiple years and countries, all aimed at social and economic development in Africa. His approach to research is practical, and he is dedicated to translating research findings into effective policy practice through innovative policy engagement and capacity development

Andreas Backhaus earned a PhD in Economics from the University of Munich in 2018. He has been a Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels Since 2020 and a Senior Research Fellow at the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Andreas de Barros is an Assistant Professor at UCI’s School of Education and, by courtesy, the Department of Economics. Andy’s research specializes in program evaluation and evidence-based education policy in less-developed countries. His current projects focus on teaching quality as a key determinant of student learning and on the potential of educational technology to improve instruction. Before joining the University of California, Irvine, he was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT’s Department of Economics, where he worked with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

Ashutosh Bhuradia is a PhD student in the Education Policy and Program Evaluation Concentration at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, where is a recipient of the Presidential Fellowship and a Stone PhD Scholar. Before Harvard, he worked at the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) at Stanford University where he managed large-scale education assessment programs and field experiments in developing countries. Ashutosh is originally from Indore, India.

Carolina Better is an Associate Managing Director at ideas42. She oversees the Global Development focus area and leads the Global Education portfolio, with projects that span from early childhood education through college completion. She works with partners to design, test, and scale programs and products that use applied behavioral science to improve education outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Carolina holds a Master's degree in International and Development Economics from the University of San Francisco, and two Bachelor's degrees in Economics and in Communications from the Pennsylvania State University.

Claire Cullen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working jointly with the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) and Youth Impact, a youth-focused NGO in Botswana. Her work focuses on generating and translating evidence into impact at scale, with recent research focusing on education and gender. She previously worked at the World Bank, Innovations for Poverty Action, and as an economist for the Australian Government’s aid program. Claire received her DPhil from the Blavatnik School of Government, her master's from Georgetown University, and her BA in Economics from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University.

Clare Leaver is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and Fellow of University College. Much of Clare’s research focuses on careers and incentives within the public sector. Her work spans different sectors and regions, from utility regulation in the United States, the judicial system in England and Wales, to education systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil. In recent projects, she has studied management challenges facing education bureaucracies, including how to select and reward teachers, and how to obtain and use performance information in schools. She is currently working with the Government of Ghana on a study of delivery approaches in education districts and schools, and with the Government of Rwanda on reforms to teacher performance pay. Her research has appeared in leading economics journals, including the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, and Journal of Law, Economics and Organisation. 

Debi Spindelman is a research consultant at the World Bank and Research for Equitable Access in Learning (REAL) Centre, consultant with the RISE, RTI and A.I.S.E. Consulting, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and paid advisor to KIOO Project, an organisation using photography to transform gender relations among youth around the world. Her recent PhD explored the implications of early childhood malnutrition and stunting for cognitive development and unmet learning needs in early primary school. She currently resides in San Diego, California, USA.

Gregory Elacqua is currently the Principal Economist in the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. He has conducted extensive research on schools in Latin America and has also been active in the politics of educational policy reform. His research and technical policy work focus on the economics of education, school finance and efficiency of spending, teacher policy, school accountability, school choice, centralized student and teacher assignment, and the political economy of the educational system. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Princeton University.

Jalnidh Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics and Education at Columbia University. Her research is focused on understanding how informational and behavioral barriers affect human capital investments and inequality. In particular, her projects use field experiments and panel data analysis to study the role of information and beliefs held by teachers and parents in shaping learning outcomes for students in low-income countries. Previously, she has worked with J-PAL South Asia and the World Bank, providing research assistance on large-scale randomized evaluations. She has also been a high-school economics teacher at a residential school in India. Jalnidh is a Rhodes scholar, holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelors in Economics (Honors) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. She is on the 2023-24 job market.

Jennifer Lopez completed a B.A. in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. At GRADE, she is a Research Assistant in the Young Lives Peru longitudinal study, where she has worked training field workers, developing the surveys, analyzing data and coauthoring papers.

Jennifer Opare-Kumi is a Doctoral Researcher at the Blavatnik School of Government. Driven by a passion for efficient, evidence-based policy making, she researches ways to improve education and mental health outcomes for young people in the Global South through government and non-governmental interventions and policies.

Julius Atuhurra is a research fellow for the RISE Programme at the Blavatnik School of Government. Julius' work focuses on educational development, specifically curricula effectiveness analyses and iterative adaptation of local solutions to the learning crisis in developing countries. He recently completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Prior to that, he worked at Twaweza East Africa, a regional civil society organisation operating in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Early in his career, Julius worked at Uganda’s national tax body from where he moved to Japan to pursue postgraduate studies and subsequently altered his career path switching focus from public finance to international development. He holds a PhD in development economics and a Master of Public Finance, both qualifications obtained from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), one of Japan’s leading policy graduate schools. 

Kat Pattillo is a writer, qualitative researcher and field catalyst who creates tools and communities for leaders transforming education systems in the Global South. She is currently writing a book about systems change success stories in Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia. She shares jobs, funding, and learning tools with over 5,000 education practitioners and funders through LinkedIn and EdWell, her newsletter about education reform in the Global South. Kat was previously a teacher, entrepreneur, community organizer, and independent consultant. She co-founded Metis (a network of 160 education leaders in Kenya), co-created the South-South Programme for education leaders in Pakistan and Kenya, and taught at African Leadership Academy in South Africa. She has worked with clients including ZiziAfrique, Centro Lemann, Global School Leaders, Anzisha Education Accelerator, the Gates Foundation, and Imaginable Futures. Her consulting and research have covered topics such as teachers unions and corruption in South Africa, what methods non-state organizations use to successfully scale systems change with governments, and how funders can better support proximate entrepreneurs and collective impact. Kat is currently a board member for Metis and the Rockdale Foundation (which supports local organizations training teachers in Sierra Leone). Her work has received funding and awards such as a Fulbright fellowship; Metis was named one of the top 100 education innovations in the world by HundrED. She has published in forums such as BRIGHT Magazine and spoken at events in Brazil, India, Pakistan, Kenya and Nigeria. Kat has a BA in politics, economics and history from Wesleyan University and an MPhil in politics from the University from Oxford (where she focused on social movements and coalition-building).

Khandker Wahedur Rahman is a postdoctoral researcher for the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Development at the University of Oxford. He is an applied microeconomist with a broad interest in development and labor economics. He focuses on the empirical microeconomic analysis of development policies, social welfare analysis, and causal inference. His current research explores human capital and productivity – often having the role of gender, norms, information, and technology as cross-cutting themes.

Lant Pritchett was the Research Director of the RISE Programme. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development and Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 2017 he published two co-authored books through Oxford University Press: Building State Capability and Deals & Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. He also published two solely authored books with the Center for Global Development, Let Their People Come (2006) and The Rebirth of Education (2013), and over a hundred articles and papers (with more than 25 co-authors) on a wide range of topics, including state capability, labour mobility, economic growth, and education, among many others.

Laura Duarte Ogando holds a master in Applied Economics from the University of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, and a BA in Economics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Works at the Lemann Foundation in the Knowledge, Research and Data area focused on literacy and middle school. Previously, has worked at organizations such as J-PAL, CCWD, the Laboratory of Studies and Research in Social Economics (LEPES/USP), and as a consultant for CAF, always with projects related to education. Research interests: Economics of education, early childhood, public policy.

Laura Savage is the Executive Director of the International Education Funders Group (IEFG), a network of philanthropic foundations and donor-advised funds working towards achieving SDG4, focusing on low and middle-income countries. Before that, she served as Senior Education Adviser at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Laura has lived and worked in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Malawi and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge on the politics of aid in national education reform.

Lindsay Brown is a Senior Research Scientist at New York University Global TIES for Children and a passionate advocate for the transformative power of high-quality teachers. She primarily focuses on flexible and scalable teaching and coaching strategies for global contexts, including the development and implementation of the Building Expert Teachers Through Evidence-based Research (BETTER) professional development approach. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and is a former middle school teacher.

Luis Crouch is a retired Emeritus Senior Ecomist at the International Development Group (IDG) of RTI International. Previously he was Team Coordinator, Global Good Practices Group, at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and was also Lead Education Economist at the World Bank. The Good Practices Group is in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the GPE, promoting good practices access to education and improved learning outcomes. He is a recognized international leader in providing high-level advice to governments involved in complex educational systems change. His areas of expertise include the generation of the consensus and focus needed to make difficult choices, and in the implementation of new and demanding changes. His work has recently focused on the improvement of reading in the early grades, where he has succeeded, along with a tight team of colleagues, in placing reading as a key focus of the international educational development agenda.

María Lombardi has a PhD in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Her research in focused on policy relevant questions related to education, particularly in Latin America. Her work has been published in the Journal of Human Resources, and the Journal of Public Economics, among others.

Marla Spivack is an international development practitioner and researcher with more than a decade of experience in programme and policy design, management, and analysis. Her work has focused on service delivery in the education and social protection sectors. Prior to joining the World Bank, she was jointly appointed as the Research Manager of the RISE (Research on Improving Systems of Education) Programme and a Research Fellow with the Building State Capability programme at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. In this role she led a team synthesising RISE research into policy messages and engaging with stakeholders to promote a systems-thinking approach to tackling the learning crisis.

Mesele Araya is a Research Associate at the REAL Center, University of Cambridge. Prior to joining the REAL Center, he worked as a researcher for several longitudinal studies, including Young Lives of the University of Oxford, Early Learning Partnership (ELP) Systems Research Programme of the World Bank and Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence (GAGE). He has specifically been involved in the design and implementation of large-scale programmes with the application of quantitative and qualitative methods. His research interests lie in the areas of early childhood education, inequality of learning in low-income settings, human capital formation, and school–to-work-transitions of young people from a gendered perspective. He has a number of publications on issues related to early childhood education, poverty, and learning inequalities, and received his PhD from the University of Bergamo (Italy).

Michelle Kaffenberger is the Head of Evidence Translation for the What Works Hub for Global Education and a Senior Fellow at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. She is a research and policy professional with 15+ years' experience leading and implementing research programmes on international education, economic inclusion, social protection, and systems reform, with a focus on bridging research and practice. She was a Research Fellow with the RISE Programme, where she analysed education systems, learning outcomes, and ways to address the learning crisis.

Mico Rudasingwa is a Junior Economist at IDinsight, based in Dakar, Senegal. Mico ensures the quality of research design, implementation, and output at IDinsight. He also supports the technical professional development of IDinsight staff. Prior to IDinsight, Mico was a Research Associate at Laterite in Rwanda, where he managed multiple aspects associated with qualitative and quantitative projects. These included project management, survey design, sampling strategy, and data cleaning/analysis. Mico holds a Master of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of International Economics (BIE) from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. During his time at UBC, he earned a Student Merit Scholarship, the Trek Excellence Scholarship, and the Best Applied International Finance Paper award in his BIE graduating cohort.

Miriam Thangaraj is an Assistant Professor at the School of Education at Azim Premji University (Sarjapur, India). Drawing on an anthropology of (education) policy - and on long-term classroom- and community-based ethnographic research - her work foregrounds how teachers and students in government schools in India experience, make sense of, respond to, cope with or resist/reconstruct school education reforms.

Noam Angrist is the Academic Director of the What Works Hub for Global Education at the University of Oxford and is a co-founder of Youth Impact, one of the largest NGOs dedicated to scaling-up health and education programs backed by rigorous randomized trial evidence. Headquartered in Botswana, the organization has scaled evidence-based programs to over 150,000 youth across ten countries. Angrist has published in leading academic journals including Nature, Nature Human Behaviour, and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Angrist has consulted for the World Bank Chief Economist and co-developed the World Bank Human Capital Index education pillar. Angrist also led the academic research underpinning a series of flagship reports of the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel, providing recommendations on cost-effective approaches to improve learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Angrist was a Fulbright and Rhodes scholar and has a B.S. in Mathematics and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a PhD from the University of Oxford.

Nompumelelo Mohohlwane is an education researcher working as a Deputy Director in the Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate at the national Department of Basic Education, South Africa. The unit is responsible for system monitoring, supporting performance information management, and conducting research and evaluation of education interventions. She is part of the research team for the government-led Early Grade Reading Study randomised control trials (2015-2018, 2018-2021). She has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Witwatersrand. Her studies focused on substantiating the contribution of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) to evaluating early-grade reading acquisition using literature and empirical large sample data. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Stellenbosch, her study focuses on language in education policy. She recently co-authored a book chapter titled ” A review of recent efforts to benchmark early reading skills in South African languages” in the Early Grade Reading in South Africa Reading Oxford book edited by Spaull and Pretorius.

Paul Glewwe is a Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on education in developing countries. Before joining the University of Minnesota in 1999, he was a senior economists at the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University.

Pieter Serneels is a professor in Economics at the University of East Anglia. He holds a PhD from the University of Oxford. His research focuses on applied micro, behavioural and labour economics, and political economy in low income countries. He is a Research Fellow at theInstitute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Oxford’s Centre for the Study of African Economies(CSAE) and Department of International Development, and a Full Member of the European Development Research Network. He is also an executive member of the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Social Sciences (CBESS) at the University of East Anglia.

Renata Lemos is a Senior Economist at the World Bank Education Unit. Before joining the World Bank, she was a Lecturer in the Economics Department at Stanford University and a Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and at Harvard Business School (PhD at Jesus CollegeUniversity of Cambridge). She is affiliated with the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP-LSE), the International Growth Centre (IGC), the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and the Research for Improving Systems of Education (RISE) programme. Her research field is applied micro-economics and her interests include topics in managerial and organizational economics, labour economics, economics of education, and development economics.

Ricardo Estrada is an applied economist working on education, personnel, and development economics. He works in the Research Department at CAF (development bank of Latin America) in Buenos Aires. Previously, he was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. He holds a Ph.D in Economics from the Paris School of Economics and graduated from the Master in Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Ricardo Montero is a Peruvian Applied Economics PhD student at the University of Minnesota with experience in Government. His interests lie in education policy design and implementation.

Rubaiya Murshed is an Education Economist and a third year PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. By profession, she is a lecturer (currently on study leave) at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Rubaiya is also a published writer-her first book, titled 'Nobody's Children’, is a collection of short stories about the lives of homeless street children in Bangladesh.

Salman Asim is a Senior Economist in Education GP at the World Bank currently leading World Bank’s engagement on Education in China, Mongolia, and South Korea. Previously, he has led Bank’s operations on basic education reforms in Malawi and Ethiopia delivering about US $250 million in IDA and GPE investments in these countries. Furthermore, he co-led the design and implementation for Education Program for Results (US$ 200 million) and led analytical products in Tanzania. He has also worked on Education Programs in South Asia and several Impact Evaluations in Development Economics Research Group. He has published in peer reviewed Journals. In Education, his research is on identification and rigorous testing of constraints to learning in low-capacity contexts. He led a large-scale Longitudinal School Survey in Malawi with US$5 million in external research grants. His work in Malawi has won the Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research on people of African Descent. Salman is a Rhodes Scholar from Pakistan and holds an M.Phil. in Economics from the University of Oxford. In his spare time, he likes to travel and explore new cities, cultures, and cuisines. Salman is a reader in philosophy, history, and classical texts.

Stephen Taylor is the Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation in the South African Department of Basic Education. With over 15 years of experience in the education sector, he is committed to promoting evidence-based decision-making and using data and research to address challenges facing the education system. He has been a Principal Investigator on several large-scale evaluations, including the Early Grade Reading Study, and is a Research Fellow of Stellenbosch University, where he earned his PhD in Economics.

Victoria Kiasyo Isika is the Associate Director of Policy for IPA East Africa and is responsible for developing and leading IPA's strategy to advance evidence-informed policy impact to improve the lives of women and girls. Previously she served as the Deputy Country Director for IPA Rwanda and Uganda. She began her career as part of IPA Kenya's field teams growing through the ranks from the position of a Field Assistant to Research Associate. She progressed to work as a Senior Research Associate at Busara Center for Behavioural Economics, Kenya. Thereafter, she joined the World Bank, Rwanda as the Impact Evaluation Field Coordinator on the Great Lakes Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Project. She has worked as a Research Consultant at the Women for Women International DRC, on the Women's Economic Empowerment Impact Evaluation in South Kivu, DRC from where she proceeded to complete her PhD in Sociology at the University of Nottingham, UK. Victoria holds a Masters Degree in Conflict, Security and Development from the University of Bradford, UK, and a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences (International Relations Major), Makerere University, Uganda. Victoria also holds a Certificate in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics.

Yue-Yi Hwa is a Senior Education Specialist on the evidence translation and synthesis team at the What Works Hub for Global Education. Previously, Yue-Yi was a research fellow and research manager for Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE), where she focused on synthesising research on teachers and management. She has also been a research fellow for the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur and a secondary school English teacher in Selangor, Malaysia. She holds an MPhil in comparative government from the University of Oxford and a PhD in education from the University of Cambridge, where her thesis looked at interactions between teacher motivation, accountability policy and sociocultural context.

Call for Papers

The Call for Papers has now closed for the 2023 Conference.

While the RISE Programme is coming to a close, we are pleased to announce that the RISE conference will continue this September at the Blavatnik School of Government, in Oxford, UK. We invite you to submit a paper for the 2023 RISE Annual Conference.

The 2023 RISE Conference will cover a range of themes under the broad umbrella of education systems research. Submissions are invited in any area of research relating to education systems in low-middle-income countries, including all themes from past RISE Conferences. 


Full list of previous RISE Conference themes


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.

Full papers should be submitted by Friday, 26 May 2023 via the submission form on the RISE website. Abstracts will be considered for inclusion. Authors of accepted papers will be notified no later than 7 July 2023.


Download the "Call for Papers" (PDF)


RISE Annual Conference Themes (2016-2022)

  • Accountability versus autonomy (e.g., What are the merits and demerits of top-down, highstakes accountability schemes in the education sector, and how do these schemes compare to initiatives that grant agents greater autonomy?)
  • 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?)
  • 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?)
  • Demand for Education (e.g., What are stakeholders demanding from education systems? Can stakeholders provide demand-side accountability that drives up education quality?)
  • Distributed authority (e.g., Can education systems successfully distribute authority? What are the constraints, political or administrative, that undermine such attempts?)
  • 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?)
  • Generalisability (e.g., Papers documenting heterogeneity (or homogeneity) based on careful reviews of different interventions, replications of the same intervention; methodological papers exploring how best to answer the perennial ‘what works’ question)
  • Governance (e.g., How do system features such as the degree of school autonomy and stakeholder engagement affect teacher behaviour, and learning outcomes?)
  • 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?)
  • Innovation (e.g., Are education systems generating, evaluating, and scaling system-wide innovations in learning, and if not, why not?)
  • Instructional (in)coherence (e.g., In what ways and why is classroom instruction so often incoherent for learning? What additional challenges have been raised by the COVID-19 pandemic?)
  • 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?)
  • Long-term trajectories of change (e.g., historical comparative education system performance, the impact of long-term interventions, or results from long-term follow-ups)
  • Management (e.g., Can management reforms, at any level of the system, realign relationships to be more coherent for learning?)
  • Positive/negative deviance and outliers (e.g., What do positive deviants do differently from negative deviants? Where, when, and why do strategies and behaviours cross-pollinate or get suppressed?)
  • 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?)
  • 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?)


  • Is there a minimum or maximum word count for submissions?
    • No, we do not have a word limit on submissions. 
  • What file format do you accept and what is the size limit?
    • We accept the following file formats: .txt, .pdf, .doc, .docx, .zip.
    • The file upload size limit is 32mb.
    • Only one file can be uploaded.
  • Can I submit multiple papers?
    • Yes, you can submit multiple papers, but this must be done individually.
  • Can I submit an abstract instead of a full paper?
    • Yes, you can submit an abstract but the expectation would be that a paper in 'working paper' condition will be ready in time for the conference.