The RISE Podcast aims to illuminate the human perspective behind education research and practice through a series of interviews with experts in education development.
In the RISE Podcast series, we invite people who are passionate about improving education to discuss the ‘big picture’ ideas and narratives that have inspired their work. Our guests bring with them stories and expertise from a variety of experiences in research, practice, and policy, and it's our hope that their insights will shed new light on many different facets of education systems.
Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) is an international research programme funded by UK Aid, Australian Aid, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to investigate how education systems can overcome this learning crisis and deliver better learning for all children.
The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford supports the production of the RISE Podcast.
Jennifer Opare-Kumi on ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ and Children’s Mental Health Outcomes in the Global South
This episode features RISE Research Fellow Yue-Yi Hwa in conversation with Jennifer Opare-Kumi, a final-year doctoral researcher at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. They cover a breadth of issues including the potential for targeted instructional programs to contribute towards improved child mental health outcomes, why mainstreaming children’s mental health during early learning might improve their educational and other life outcomes, and the need to adopt an expanded view of the ‘learning crisis’ currently affecting countries in the global south.
Jenn Opare-Kumi (webpage)Foundational Learning and Mental Health: Empirical Evidence from Botswana (working paper) by Jennifer Opare-KumiCognitive and Socioemotional Skills in Low-Income Countries: Measurement and Associations with Schooling and Earnings (journal article) by Alice Danon, Jishnu Das, Andreas de Barros, and Deon Filmer (RISE Pakistan)Socioemotional and Academic Learning Before and After COVID-19 School Closures (working paper) by Stephen Bayley, Darge Wole Meshesha, Paul Ramchandani, Pauline Rose, Tassew Woldehanna, and Louise Yorke (RISE Ethiopia)Researching Socio-Emotional Learning, Mental Health and Wellbeing: Methodological Issues in Low-Income Contexts (working paper) by Stephen Bayley, Darge Wole Meshesha, Louise Yorke, Paul Ramchandani, and Pauline Rose (RISE Ethiopia)Measuring the impacts of teachers in Vietnam: teacher value-added and student cognitive and non-cognitive skills (paper in progress) by Pedro Carneiro, Paul Glewwe, Anusha Guha, and Sonya KrutikovaYouth Impact’s page on Teaching at the Right Level in Botswana (webpage)Teaching at the Right Level Africa (webpage)Pratham’s Combined Activities for Maximized Learning (CAMaL) teaching-learning approach (webpage)
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.
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...
Anustup Nayak on FLN in India and CSF’s Collaborative Work to Improve the Instructional Experience in the Classroom
In this episode, RISE Research Fellow Julius Atuhurra speaks to Anustup Nayak, Project Director for Classroom Instruction and Practice, at Central Square Foundation (CSF) in India. Anustup retraces his educational path in India, Africa and the US, and links to his career in foundational learning.
He reflects on the FLN context in India and why he is hopeful about the future. Anustup gives an in-depth explanation of CSF’s work and their broad collaboration with state governments and other similar minded actors to improve the teaching and learning experience in the classroom.
They also touch on Anustup’s involvement with some of the work strands at RISE and his ideas about future directions. Anustup reflects on India’s position as both the 'hotbed' for FLN problems and ‘go to’ place for solutions to the global learning crisis.
Central Square Foundation (webpage)Demystifying the Science of Teaching: A 'Structured Pedagogy' Approach to Improving Foundation Learning (article) by Anustup Nayak and Priyanka UpretiA Million Children Learning – Improving Elementary School Education at Scale (article) byRISE Community of Practice (webpage)CSF’s Experience of Working with the RISE Diagnostic Framework in North India (blog) by Jasmine Dhingra, Isha Shingte, and Garima GroverHow to Rapidly Improve Learning Outcomes at System Level? (blog) by Luis CrouchRISE Annual Conference 2022 (event)Michelle Kaffenberger (webpage)Understanding Education Policy Preferences: Survey Experiments with Policymakers in 35 Developing Countries (working paper) by Lee Crawfurd, Susannah Hares, Ana Luiza Minardi and Justin SandefurSystem (In)Coherence: Quantifying the Alignment of Primary Education Curriculum Standards, Examinations, and Instruction in Two East African Countries (working paper) by Julius Atuhurra and Michelle Kaffenberger
Anustup Nayak leads the Classroom Instruction and Practices (CIP) team at CSF. In his role, he works with multiple CSF partner organizations and state government agencies to support the implementation of the FLN mission. Prior to working at CSF, his work involved supporting and scaling up an entrepreneurial venture named XSEED Education. Anustup joined CSF to pursue his passion to improve...
Manos Antoninis on the first GEM Spotlight Series Report on Africa
In the latest episode of the RISE Podcast, the Director of UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, Manos Antoninis, talks to RISE Research Fellow Jason Silberstein about the first report in the Spotlight Series. The Spotlight is a new initiative by the GEM Report and its partners to shine a spotlight on primary completion and the state of foundational learning in Africa. They discuss the report’s original research and clear recommendations for how to improve learning, with a focus on what the Spotlight has to say about politics, measurement, supporting teachers, and balancing investment in student-level inputs with systems-level reform.
Spotlight on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africapublished by UNESCO, under the direction of Manos Antoninis and prepared by the Global Education Monitoring Report team with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, and African Union.Global Education Monitoring ReportAssociation for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)UNESCO Institute for StatisticsNational SDG 4 BenchmarksThe Long-Run Decline of Education Quality in the Developing World by Alexis Le Nestour, Laura Moscoviz, and Justin Sandefur at the Center for Global DevelopmentFocus to Flourish: A Messaging Campaign on Five Actions to Accelerate Progress in Learning by the RISE ProgrammeFive Actions to Accelerate Progress in Learning by Lant Pritchett, Kirsty Newman and Jason Silberstein
Manos Antoninis is the Director of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report since 2017. He was previously responsible for the monitoring section of the report. He coordinated the financing gap estimates for the 2030 education targets, the projections on the achievement of universal primary and secondary education completion, and the World Inequality Database on Education. He has been representing the report team in the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 indicators, which he is currently co-chairing.
Prior to joining the team he worked for 10 years on public finance, monitoring and evaluation projects in education including: a public expenditure tracking and service delivery survey of secondary education provision in Bangladesh; the evaluation of a basic education project in the western provinces of China; the mid-term evaluation of the Education For All Fast Track Initiative; the annual reporting of progress in the implementation of the Second Primary Education Development Project in Bangladesh; a basic education capacity building programme in six states in Nigeria; the evaluation of an in-service, cluster-based teacher training programme in Pakistan; and the...
Jishnu Das on School Choice, School Quality, and 'Zombie Schools' in Pakistan
In this episode, RISE Research Fellow Jason Silberstein speaks to Jishnu Das, Professor at Georgetown University and a Principal Investigator of the RISE Pakistan Country Research Team. They discuss Jishnu and his team’s ambitious research agenda, which is not simply studying the impact of a new education policy or intervention, but trying to build a fresh description of how the education system works. They talk about what makes a good school and how to measure it; why comparing public and private schools hides more than it helps; 'Zombie Schools' that are feeding on kids brains; and why every child that doesn’t learn is the fault of a badly engineered system and the ways we can change that.
Heterogeneity in School Value-Added and the Private Premium by Andrabi, Bau, Das, and Khwaja (RISE Working Paper)The Value of Private Schools: Evidence from Pakistan by Carneiro, Das, and Reis (Journal Article)Teacher Value Added in a Low-Income Country by Bau and Das (Journal Article)Upping the Ante: The Equilibrium Effects of Unconditional Grants to Private Schools by Andrabi, Das, Khwaja, Özyurt, and Singh (Working Paper)Why Do Households Leave School Value Added on the Table? The Roles of Information and Preferences by Ainsworth, Dehejia, Pop-Eleches, and Urquiola (Working Paper)Bad Boys by Ferguson (Book)Low-Cost Private Schools in Tanzania: A Descriptive Analysis by Sabarwal, Sununtnasuk, and Ramachandran (Working Paper)
Jishnu Das is a Principal Investigator on the RISE Pakistan team. He is 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. He has authored numerous education-related works, including “India Shining and Bharat Drowning: Comparing Two Indian States to the Worldwide Distribution in Mathematics Achievement” (Journal of Development Economics), and “Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia” (Journal of Human Resources), in addition to work co-authored with Tahir Andrabi and Asim I. Khwaja. Das was awarded a PhD in economics from Harvard University and a BA from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi, India. He was an author of the Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools (LEAPS) report, an extensive study of the schooling environment more than 100 villages in rural Pakistan.
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...
Armando Ali on assessing learning in Mozambique and the power of citizen action
In this episode, RISE partnerships manager and co-producer of the RISE podcast Joe Bullough speaks to Armando Ali, CEO of the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network—a South-South network of organisations working to conduct citizen-led assessments of learning to empower citizens and spur political action to improve learning. Armando revisits memories of school in Nampula, Mozambique and reflects on (one generation later) what he learned from the first citizen-led assessment of children’s learning in Mozambique, and the “Wiixutta Nithweelaka” (“Learn by Play”) programme to help children catch up on missed foundational skills. They discuss why literacy and numeracy are important indicators of whether education systems are working to give children value in their education, and the power and potential of community action to drive learning outcomes worldwide, village to village.
PAL Network WebsiteThe ICAN (International Common Assessment of Numeracy) ToolkitPAL Network datasets on learning (Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Mexico, Mozambique)The Essential Role of Citizen-led Assessments, Reflections from the PAL Network Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal [RISE Blog] by Joe BulloughBuilding on Solid Foundations: Prioritising Universal, Early, Conceptual and Procedural Mastery of Foundational Skills [RISE Insight Note] by Carmen Belafi, Yue-Yi Hwa, & Michelle KaffenbergerGetting Real about Unknowns in Complex Policy Work (with application to recent education policy interventions in Mozambique) [RISE Working Paper] by Matt AndrewsRISE Podcast Episode 14 - Modupe Adefeso-Olateju on how partners can come together to solve Nigeria’s learning crisis
Armando Ali is the Chief Executive Officer at the PAL Network where he provides overall leadership, nurtures a sense of collective ownership and belonging within the network and ensures sustained growth, health and impact. Armando is an Education Specialist with over 20 years of experience in mobilizing citizens to improve the quality of education. He is passionate about improving foundational literacy and numeracy skills of children in the early grades and, since 2001, has held a variety of leadership roles in civil society and academia, advocating for the right of quality education for all children.
Before joining PAL Network, he worked as an education specialist with UNICEF, Mozambique. He also previously worked as the coordinator of Mozambique’s Citizen-led Action, Wiixutta Nithweelaka – an approach inspired by Teaching at the Right Level that helps children to improve their reading and arithmetic competencies. He holds a Master’s degree in Peace and Development Work from Linnaeus University in Sweden.
Joe Bullough is the Partnerships Manager for the RISE Programme and a co-producer of the RISE podcast, based at the Blavantik School of Government at the University of Oxford.
Joe manages RISE’s engagement with global...
Matt Andrews on getting real about unknowns in complex policy work
This episode is cross-posted from the Building State Capability (BSC) at Harvard University’s podcast series and features BSC Director Salimah Samji in conversation with Matt Andrews, who is BSC Faculty Director and the Edward S. Mason Senior Lecturer in International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. Together, they discuss Matt’s paper “Getting Real about Unknowns in Complex Policy Work”, which uses a novel due diligence strategy to examine 25 essential policy questions, citing real-world examples from policy reforms focused on girls’ education in Mozambique from 1999 to 2020. In his paper, Matt offers policymakers a practical way to engage with public problems in the presence of unknowns—one which demonstrates the need for a more modest and realistic approach to doing complex work.
The original episode: “Getting Real about Unknowns in Complex Policy Work - A Conversation with Matt Andrews”Getting Real about Unknowns in Complex Policy Work. RISE Working Paper Series. 21/083. BSC at Harvard University’s podcast seriesThe Building State Capability Programme at Harvard UniversityWhat is PDIA- Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (Video)? PDIA Toolkit - A DIY Approach to Solving Complex Problems (Guide)Improving Public Sector Management at Scale? Experimental Evidence on School Governance in India [RISE Working Paper], by Karthik Muralidharan and Abhijeet SinghWhen the Devil’s Not in the Details: The System Failure of a Large-Scale School Management Reform in India [Blog], by Jason Silberstein
Matt Andrews is the Edward S. Mason Senior Lecturer in International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has worked in over 50 countries across the globe as a civil servant, international development expert, researcher, teacher, advisor and coach. He has written three books and over 60 other publications on the topics of development and management. He is also the faculty director of the Building State Capability program at Harvard, which is where he has developed – with a team – a policy and management method to address complex challenges. This method is called problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) and was developed through over a decade of applied action research work by Matt and his team. It is now used by practitioners across the globe. Matt holds a BCom (Hons) degree from the University of Natal, Durban (South Africa), an MSc from the University of London, and a PhD in Public Administration from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
Salimah Samji is the Director of Building State Capability (BSC). She has more than 15 years of experience working in international development on the delivery of public services, transparency and accountability, strategic...