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Systems thinking and DFID's education policy


I am reading the DFID Education Policy Get Children Learning 2018 . The document lays out the principles and priorities of DFID’s policy in the education sector.

The word system is used 73 times in the document. Nine times in the key messages section in the beginning.

Are we getting closer to development partners applying systems thinking in their policy design and programme implementation? Hopefully so.

The documents defines an education system:
‘An education system covers the full span of education provision across both public and non-state sectors. It is made up of inputs, processes, people and politics, which together determine whether children are learning:

Inputs: The basic resources for education delivery, such as teachers, classrooms and textbooks.
Processes: The ways in which these resources are put to use, including through standard setting and management of finances, information and the workforce.
People: The full range of people and organisations involved in education, including students, teachers, parents, bureaucrats, politicians and members of civil society organisations, who have different motivations and incentives.
Politics: The overarching governance and power structure in which the education system operates

The rationale for applying a system approach is that ‘teachers cannot succeed alone. Skilled teachers won’t be deployed effectively or stay motivated for long if wider education systems aren’t working well. Complementary education system reform across public and non-state provision is essential to their success.’ Moreover, ‘many education systems remain focused on getting more children into school, rather than improving quality and learning. Reform is needed to shift the central focus of education systems to ensuring children learn, starting with the basics.‘ 

Most of all, ‘many education systems lack coherence, with inputs, people and processes pulling in different directions and reform is needed to improve alignment around the common objective of ensuring children learn.‘ 

Good principles that are tested through the design and implementation of programmes, projects, and partnerships.  

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