What works to improve the quality of student learning in developing countries?
We conducted a systematic review to identify policy interventions that improve education quality and student learning in developing countries.
Relying on a theory of change typology, we highlight three main drivers of change of education quality: (1) supply-side capability interventions that operate through the provision of physical and human resources, and learning materials; (2) policies that through incentives seek to influence behaviour and intertemporal preferences of teachers, households, and students; (3) bottom-up and top-down participatory and community management interventions, which operate through decentralisation reforms, knowledge diffusion, and increased community participation in the management of education systems.
Overall, our findings suggest that interventions are more effective at improving student performance and learning when social norms and intertemporal choices are factored in the design of education policies, and when two or more drivers of change are combined.
Thus, supply-side interventions alone are less effective than when complemented by community participation or incentives that shift preferences and behaviours.