This rapid review, commissioned by DFID, was produced in May 2013 to inform the shape of a potential research programme on education systems

This rapid review aims to examine:

  • The conceptual frameworks underpinning education systems research in low and

middle income countries (LMICS) and to what extent these are clearly articulated and

widely accepted.

  • The extent and nature of education systems research in LMICs, its key findings and


The review methodology is outlined in section 2. The results of the review follow in section 3. Finally, in section 4, the results and quality of the body of evidence are discussed and

conclusions are drawn. These include:

  • A wide range of conceptual frameworks were identified regarding education systems

in low and middle income countries but these were not accepted widely or used

extensively as a basis for research.

  • Many of the conceptual frameworks were proposed in policy discussion papers or

developed as implementation tools rather than being primarily intended as research


  • Overall, a small number of high quality studies were identified in the field of education systems research but the majority of studies identified through this rapid review were of moderate or low quality.
  • It could be argued that there is a need for more agreement regarding the conceptual

frameworks which should underpin education systems research to enable more direct

comparison between research studies and the development of a strong evidence


HEART Rapid review of Education Systems Research in Low and Middle Income Countries May 2013


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