Podcast: Diagnosing Education Systems

Marla Spivack, Research Fellow at the Center for International Development’s (CID) Building State Capability programme and the Research Manager for RISE, sat down with CID Student Ambassador Emma Cameron to discuss her research on diagnosing education systems following her talk at the CID Speaker Series.

The podcast was originally recorded on February 21, 2020 at Harvard Kennedy School.


About the talk:

The rapid expansion of schooling is one of international development’s most remarkable achievements. In nearly every country the average child can expect to complete basic schooling. At the same time, in many developing countries, more than half of children complete primary school without mastering basic reading and math skills. Despite laudable progress on schooling, much of the world faces a learning crisis. Large-scale efforts to address the symptoms of this crisis often take the form of “more” – pushing children to spend more years in school, providing more inputs, and spending more money – and have failed to produce significant learning gains. More of the same isn’t working, highlighting the need for systemic change. Systems change will require moving beyond identifying symptoms of the learning crisis towards articulating a diagnostic characterization of its causes. This talk will make the case for systems analysis and outline a new approach to education systems diagnostics, rooted in an accountability framework. We argue that this approach can explain systems’ poor performance, identify priority areas for reform, and suggest principals for effective intervention to make meaningful progress on national learning goals.

About the speaker:

Marla Spivack is a Research Fellow at CID’s Building State Capability programme, and the Research Manager of the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) program. She leads an array of research activities focused on synthesizing the findings of RISE country team work.

Prior to joining CID, she worked on social protection, rural development, and micro-credit programs with government agencies and the World Bank in a range of contexts including India, Mexico, and Zambia. She has also contributed to work on migration and development with researchers at the Center for Global Development. She holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from the Harvard Kennedy School and a BA in Economics from Tufts University.



This podcast by the Harvard Center for International Development has been re-posted with permission. Its content reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of RISE or our funders.