System Implications for Core Instructional Support
Lessons from Sobral (Brazil), Puebla (Mexico), and Kenya
In recent years, the expansion of education systems has led to unprecedented numbers of children attending school—nearly 90 percent of primary-school-aged children globally are enrolled in school, and in low- and lower-middle-income countries, as a whole, far more than half complete primary school. However, there remains a learning crisis globally, and 6 out of 10 children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. The scale of this crisis requires bold, transformative changes to education systems. While there have been advances in know-how on specific learning interventions, the challenge now is in moving crucial parts of education systems so that all young people, at a minimum, are literate and numerate by the time they leave primary school.
In December 2019, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convened an invitation-only workshop examining four education systems that have worked to build coherence across their systems, as viewed by “insiders” who played a significant role in carefully studying, designing, or maintaining the systems. The cases are the Sobral municipality in the state of Ceará, Brazil; the state of Puebla, in Mexico; and the countries of Chile and Kenya. In all of these cases, data suggest that the systems have improved performance relatively recently or have historically tended to perform above what one would expect based on context, or generally have a reputation for excellence and innovativeness in their country or region.
This information note summarizes the knowledge shared at the workshop and is intended for the benefit of the participants as well as those who may be designing systems interventions or research, especially around the issue of the “instructional core” and the coherence among the various elements of the instructional core.