Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: ESRC-FCDO Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems

This research programme is co-funded by ESRC and the FCDO. It helps researchers to address key questions and build evidence in critical policy areas constraining education systems in developing countries.

Raising Learning Outcomes (RLO) provides concrete ideas for policy and practice on how to improve learning, and understanding of how these ideas will translate to specific contexts.

This programme has a budget of £20 million
Launched in 2014, the RLO programme has awarded 31 main grants through three funding rounds
Partners involved:
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

The scope and what we're doing

We launched the RLO in Education Systems research programme in 2014. This commissioned world-class and cutting-edge social science research that addresses key questions on learning outcomes within education systems in developing countries.

With a budget of £20 million, RLO is part of a broader strategic partnership between the UK’s FCDO and ESRC.

The programme aims to build on the evidence on critical policy areas which currently constrain education systems in developing countries.

To do this, the programme has funded a portfolio of research to increase understanding of how complex relationships between elements of the education system, the context in which they are embedded, and the dynamics operating within that system, impact on efforts to raise learning outcomes for all.

The three research funding opportunities funded through RLO focus on effective teaching, challenging contexts and accountability respectively.

Why we're doing it

The RLO in Education Systems research programme aims to make an important contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (United Nations). It also aims to support the UK government’s stated prioritisation of girls’ education by:

  • generating evidence which adds to and informs the body of research on raising learning outcomes in developing countries
  • providing policymakers and practitioners with concrete ideas on how to improve learning and understanding of how these will translate to their specific context and institutions
  • building relations with and between academics, practitioners and policymakers based in developing countries
  • supporting research taking place in developing countries and enabling knowledge exchange and capacity-building within and between developing countries
  • supporting the most marginalised, including girls and those with disabilities.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Details of summaries, outcomes and outputs from RLO funded projects are available at Gateway to Research.

In addition to building high quality evidence, this programme has sought to ensure that the research is used and has an impact on policy in developing countries.

The Impact Initiative was contracted in spring 2015 through to May 2021. It supported the uptake and impact of research funded under the ESRC-FCDO Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the ESRC-FCDO RLO in Education Systems research programme.

As well as facilitating knowledge exchange and policy engagement on behalf of the two programmes, the initiative developed a significant number of resources for researchers, policymakers and practitioners, including impact case studies, reports and briefing papers (The Impact Initiative).

Who to contact

Queries or general information about this ESRC-FCDO programme


Last updated: 17 October 2022

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