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Building and mobilizing evidence for education policy: Lessons from the Knowledge and Innovation Exchange

September 13, 2022

Decades of educational innovations have culminated in many effective strategies in the Global South. These range from how to prepare pre-schoolers in remote communities for primary classes to interventions to help refugee youth complete secondary studies. At the heart of these innovations is Southern-based experience and research, while their successful implementation at scale lies in the strength of connecting evidence with use among Southern-based policymaking circles. This is where the Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (GPE-KIX) comes in. The joint endeavour between GPE and IDRC is helping to inform decision-making in education systems through South-South research and the exchange of learning.

Now in its third year, the people at KIX have learned some important lessons about how to make a difference in strengthening education systems in the Global South. The emerging results are building quality evidence rooted in the priorities of partner countries, mobilizing that knowledge to reach policymakers, and strengthening their capacity to adapt it and put it to use. This is an overview of how several KIX participants are supporting education policy and practice.

Putting evidence to use

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A student in a rural community in Honduras.
GPE/Paul Martinez

The KIX research agenda is driven by demand from GPE partner countries, so emerging findings are designed to be immediately useful for policymakers. However, producing evidence is not enough. KIX positions research within an ecosystem of processes and interventions that facilitate collaboration and learning exchange within and between countries in the Global South.

KIX regional learning exchange hubs support educational stakeholders so they can put new evidence and innovations into practice. This learning journey can involve various methods ranging from webinars that introduce evidence and expertise on priority topics in each region to in-depth professional development opportunities. As this blog describes, weeks-long learning cycles conducted by the Europe, Asia, and Pacific hub extend far beyond workshops about using research in policy to actually involving policymakers in the production of the research. Civil society and government representatives from Vietnam participated in the learning cycle on current skills and continue to share research and explore how to adapt it to the context of curriculum reform in the country.

In the Maldives, national experts are using skills from the learning cycle on improving equitable access to education with geospatial data to identify bottlenecks in providing upper secondary education across the country. Participants from the same learning cycle in Bhutan are using their new knowledge to help identify schools at high risk of flooding and ultimately to improve the safety of students.

Exchanging knowledge on teacher training reform 

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A teacher trainee at a primary school in Uganda.
GPE/Livia Barton

In addition to these professional development opportunities, GPE-KIX's regional hubs provide a platform for GPE partner countries to share ideas and solutions. A representative from Niger shared successes in teacher training reform in Central and West African countries with representatives from other countries in the region at the Africa 21 Hub. The hub is supporting countries to build from the lessons shared by Niger, including through national policy dialogue workshops to discuss teacher training in depth — another example of the hubs’ knowledge-chain approach in action.

Similarly, countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region place the abilities of teachers at the heart of potential solutions for learning outcomes. Coming out of the regional learning exchange, KIX is helping integrate regional and global best practice and evidence into the main teacher training program for the eastern Caribbean.

The 2021–2022 KIX Annual Report showcases how KIX regional hubs and applied research projects work together to support teacher professional development as a key priority for partner countries. This is particularly important as they look to recover learning losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a devastating impact on education systems.

Emerging findings

KIX also provided a means for countries to learn about one another’s pandemic responses and how to better prepare for future crises. The Observatory on COVID-19 responses in educational systems in Africa released early findings and recommendations to help ensure that learning can continue during similar disruptions.

The Observatory’s research prioritized responses for gender equality. As cases of sexual and gender-based violence rose during the pandemic, the Observatory documented the strategies of different countries to promote children’s wellbeing, such as making helplines available to children, providing positive parenting resources to caregivers, enhancing training for child-friendly counselling, and spreading awareness about gender-based violence and teen pregnancy. The Africa 19 hub has also provided opportunities for countries to exchange pandemic-related experience, such as how to support girls’ return to school, including in cases of adolescent pregnancy.

KIX has been gaining momentum

Innovative solutions to the biggest challenges facing education systems are out there, and policymakers in low- and middle-income countries are committed to addressing these challenges. KIX is helping to bring solutions to the surface, learning how to adapt solutions to scale through demand-driven applied research, and facilitating the exchange of South-South learning and capacity strengthening so ministries of education are equipped to integrate these solutions into their national education systems. The emerging findings and early instances of knowledge uptake outlined here are clear indications that this approach is working.

Learn more on the KIX blog

Research highlights

  • KIX positions research within an ecosystem of processes and interventions that facilitate collaboration and learning exchange within and between countries in the Global South.
  • GPE-KIX's regional hubs provide professional development opportunities and  a platform for GPE partner countries to share ideas and solutions with each other.
  • The 2021–2022 KIX Annual Report showcases how KIX regional hubs and applied research projects work together to support teacher professional development as a key priority for partner countries.