Working Paper


System Coherence for Learning: Applications of the RISE Education Systems Framework


Image of Michelle Kaffenberger

Michelle Kaffenberger

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

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.


A published version of this paper is now available as an open-source book chapter.


Kaffenberger, M. and Spivack, M. 2022. System Coherence for Learning: Applications of the RISE Education Systems Framework. RISE Working Paper Series. 22/086.