Helpdesk Report: Rapid Review of Education Systems Research in Low and Middle Income Countries


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 quality.

The results of the review are presented in 4 sections:

  1. Conceptual frameworks proposed by International Organisations and Programmes
  2. Discussion papers, Literature Reviews and Strategy Documents proposing  a conceptual framework for education systems
  3. Individual country case studies of education systems
  4. Comparative case studies or comparative education systems research across countries

Conclusions 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 frameworks.
  • 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 base


Featherstone, I.; Bolton, L. Helpdesk Report: Rapid Review of Education Systems Research in Low and Middle Income Countries. (2013) 22 pp.

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