Education system strengthening across Asia: a systematic review of USAID activities and critical discussion [CIES 2023 Panel Presentation]

The purpose of this formal group panel presentation is to hold an in-depth discussion on USAID’s investments into system strengthening across Asia over the past decade and how these efforts are situated within the broader global move to focus more intentionally and coherently on education system strengthening. The panel will discuss a 2022 empirical research study (the USAID System Strengthening Review, hereafter “the Review”) conducted by two international research organizations for the USAID Asia Bureau which reviews USAID system strengthening work in 11 Asian countries. This Review offers a qualitative evidence-based analysis relevant to the field of comparative and international education (CIE) and analyzes new data collected from a desk review of relevant project documents, reports, and evaluations, key informant interviews, multi-stakeholder survey, and three deep-dive case studies in Nepal, Cambodia, and the Philippines. The group panel will include three presentations on different aspects of the Review and include discussant commentary and critique to elicit group and audience discussion. The first panel presentation discusses a theoretical framework drawn from the RISE Programme (Pritchett 2015 and Spivak 2021) and recent analysis from the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education. The Review’s central research questions are guided by these broader global trends, as well as its own analysis framework developed specifically for this study, discussed in Presentation 3. Conclusions are drawn based on this framework, and the overall discussion in Presentations 2 and 3 considers the context of USAID programming in Asia and how new knowledge provides new insights.