Motivation for research



Getty Images Reportage/Jonathan Torgovnik (Senegal)

The RISE programme aims to understand how school systems in the developing world can overcome the learning crisis.

At one level, we already know the answer. Unlike producing controlled nuclear fusion or a viable vaccine for Ebola, we already know how to teach children to read or do basic mathematics.  Researchers have carefully calibrated the learning gains from specific interventions, like school feeding programs, computer-assisted learning, and remedial education. Many countries have pockets of success where these tools are deployed effectively, with excellent schools and teachers delivering quality education.

But these successes often do not happen at scale. High-performing schools are restricted to a narrow set of affluent families. Innovative pilot projects demonstrate potential, but often fail to translate into far-reaching policy reform.

"Improving learning outcomes for children is a pressing challenge globally. There is a massive body of high-quality research on proximate determinants of learning—but less on how and why some countries’ education systems function well, while other countries stay at low levels of performance. The key feature of RISE is to focus on the capabilities of education systems to sustain a dynamic of innovation and improvement."  – Lant Pritchett, RISE Research Director.

RISE will fund research that goes beyond the proximate causes of test score performance to understand the underlying ingredients of a well-functioning system — for example, the way in which goals are set, progress is assessed and measured, the teaching career is structured, schools are financed and managed, and innovations produced, evaluated and disseminated.  RISE will investigate how and why education systems succeed or fail in attempts to promote learning for all children. 

The RISE Vision documents provide further evidence of the background rationale for education systems research: