This new book explores the complex challenges around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.
Systems Thinking in International Education and Development, edited by Moira V. Faul and Laura Savage of NORRAG, is an open-access publication published by elgaronline.com.
Chapter 3, by authors including EDT research colleagues Donvan Amenya and Jean-Pierre Mugiraneza and Charlotte Jones, John Rutayisire and Katie Godwin, is entitled ‘Collaborative professionalism and education system change’. It draws on evidence from different contexts to illustrate and explore characteristics and impacts of collaborative professional relationships, including the importance of trust, shared professional dialogue, shared purpose and mutual accountability.
The authors explain,
“The chapter provides a synthesis of emerging empirical evidence from three settings – in Kenya, Rwanda and India – to illustrate the characteristics of collaborative professionalism in contexts where it has been applied at scale to bring about shifts in learning outcomes.”
The authors draw on EDT research from collaborative professionalism that has been conducted over four years, in partnership with IIEP-UNESCO, the Education Commission, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and STiR Education.
Evidence from three contexts
Collaborative professionalism and education system change presents evidence from three contexts where professional networks have been developed at scale to improve teaching and learning:
In Kenya, Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu (Let Our Girls Succeed), an FCDO-funded programme led by EDT.
In Rwanda, the FCDO-funded Building Learning Foundations programme led by the Rwanda Basic Education Board and EDT.
In India, STiR Education’s teacher network model.
A key observation is that lasting change is catalysed by collaborative professionalism based on mutual trust, dialogue, inquiry, peer accountability and driven by a shared purpose and values. For this to flourish, the authors advocate a strong ‘middle’ layer of leadership, including change agents and distributed leadership structures, that spark a collective spirit.
Dzingai Mutumbuka, First Minister of Education of Independent Zimbabwe, former Chair of ADEA, former Sector Manager at the World Bank praised the book, saying,
“Systems thinking has been successfully applied to address service delivery challenges in many sectors, especially health. While it is a relatively new approach in education, systems thinking will become a commonly used tool in delivering quality education post the ravages of covid. This book, consisting of 11 chapters and authored by a wide range of reputable practitioners on the topic, will become a valuable companion to donors, policy makers and implementers down to the classroom level striving to provide quality learning for all children.”