Applying systems thinking to education: the RISE systems framework

Research and practitioners' insights
Marla Spivack
Abstract

Many education systems in low- and middle-income countries are experiencing a learning crisis. Many efforts to address this crisis do not account for the system features of education, meaning that they fail to consider the ways that interactions and feedback loops produce outcomes. Thinking through the feedback relationships that produce the education system can be challenging. The RISE Education Systems Framework, which is sufficiently structured to give boundaries to the analysis but sufficiently flexible to be adapted to multiple scenarios, can be helpful. The RISE Framework identifies four key relationships in an education system: politics, compact, management, and voice and choice; and five features that can be used to describe these relationships: delegation, finance, information, support, and motivation. This Framework can be a useful approach for characterising the key actors and interactions in the education system, thinking through how these interactions produce systems outcomes, and identifying ways to intervene that can shift the system towards better outcomes.