Call for Papers – Deadline Friday, 25 June 2021

We invite you to submit a paper for, or express your interest in attending (virtually or in-person), the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme Annual Conference (see the 2019 Annual Conference event page).

The RISE Programme applies systems thinking to education. We seek to understand why learning outcomes in a particular school, district, or country are poor, and why the (system) conditions causing these low learning levels exist. This understanding can then inform attempts to realign the relationships in the education system to be coherent for learning, meaning that every component works together with the goal of improving learning for all.

The 2021 RISE Conference will cover a range of themes under the broad umbrella of education systems thinking. It will draw on research undertaken in RISE countries—Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam. In addition, we are issuing an open call for papers from researchers working on these and any other developing countries.

Register your interest in attending

Conference themes

Submissions are invited in any area of research relating to education systems, including all themes at past RISE conferences. Papers touching on the following topics are particularly welcome:

  • Accountability versus autonomy—What are the merits and demerits of top-down, high-stakes accountability schemes in the education sector, and how do these schemes compare to initiatives that grant agents greater autonomy?
  • Management—Can management reforms, at any level of the system, realign relationships to be more coherent for learning?
  • Distributed authority—Can education systems successfully distribute authority (e.g., standard setting by the centre, accounts of performance by the district or school)? What are the constraints, political or administrative, that undermine such attempts?
  • Instructional (in)coherence—In what ways and why is classroom instruction so often incoherent for learning? What additional challenges have been raised by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

RISE is keen to solicit academic papers presenting original research on these topics from across the social science disciplines/methodologies. We also welcome submissions based on evidence constituting experiential reflections that will directly inform the discussion of these topics.

Submission information

Full papers should be submitted by Friday, 25 June 2021 to Abstracts will be considered for inclusion. Authors of accepted papers will be notified no later than 23 July 2021.

Submit your paper

Registration information

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions, we are looking into the possibility of hosting a hybrid conference combining virtual participation and regional event hubs that will allow for in-person attendance. The conference will be live-streamed via our main event hub at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. We hope to identify other regional hubs where our colleagues can gather to participate in the conference. Virtual participants will be able to join via the Zoom platform. Presenters of the selected papers have the option to participate in the conference either in-person (should circumstances allow) or virtually. Further details will be released in July/August 2021.

If you are interested in attending the conference either in person or virtually, please visit the RISE website and fill in the online form.

Email correspondence regarding paper submission or participation in the conference can be directed to the RISE communications team (


Download a PDF version of the Call for Papers.

More information on the RISE Conference website.