DFID has recently funded a series of rigorous literature reviews on a number of important topics. I’ve included the descriptions below (from here originally) as well as links to the evidence brief and full literature reviews:
Early childhood development and cognitive development in developing countries (2014)
This review aimed to: (i) review existing evidence on the review topic to inform programme design and policy making undertaken by the DfID, other agencies and researchers; and (ii) identify critical evidence gaps to guide the development of future research programmes
The impact of tertiary education on development (2014)
After a long period in which the international development community has placed emphasis on primary education, there is now renewed interest in tertiary education (TE). However, the extent and nature of the impact of TE on development remains unclear. This rigorous review seeks to address this question in the context of low and lower middle income countries (LLMICs).
Interventions to enhance girls’ education and gender equality (2014)
The central research question that this review sets out to investigate concerns the kind of interventions that research evidence suggests can lead to an expansion and improvement in girls’ education. It also considered evidence on the relationship between an expansion and improvement in girls’ education and a deepening of gender equality.
The role and impact of private schools in developing countries (2014)
The research question driving the review is: Can private schools improve education for children in developing countries? The conceptual framework set out a number of hypotheses and assumptions that underpin the polarised debate about the potential and real contribution of private schools. These are interrogated through a rigorous and objective review of the evidence and findings are mapped on to an evidenced theory of change.
Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries (2014)
Developing countries face distinct challenges in providing access to quality education. Educational provision also varies markedly in terms of teacher training, teaching and learning resources, school attendance, and motivation of parents, teachers and children for schooling. Against this backdrop, we consider the available evidence on foundation learning and literacy in order to identify key components for intervention that are appropriate to specific cultural and linguistic contexts.
The political economy of education systems in developing countries (2014)
Teachers and schools do not exist in isolation of the larger world around them. Frequently, many of their actions – and the school outcomes that they are accountable for – are influenced by incentives and constraints operating outside the schooling system. Each of these factors influences different aspects of education reform, whether policy design, financing, implementation or evaluation. Given the importance of these power relations in influencing student outcomes, there is surprisingly little literature to guide us in making related policy decisions. One reason is that examining these issues in the case of education may not be amenable to a particular disciplinary lens and is better served through an inter-disciplinary approach. A key contribution of this review is to pull together the essential literature from various disciplinary and interdisciplinary traditions and to provide a conceptual framework in which to situate the analysis of political economy issues in education research. Another contribution is to carefully review the existing literature and identify research gaps in it. The review organises the literature along 5 key themes.
Pedagogy, curriculum, teaching practices and teacher education in developing countries (2013)
This rigorous literature review, focused on pedagogy, curriculum, teaching practices and teacher education in developing countries. It aimed to: (1) review existing evidence on the review topic to inform programme design and policy making undertaken by the DFID, other agencies and researchers, and (2) identify critical evidence gaps to guide the development of future research programmes.
The political economy of education systems in conflict-affected contexts (2014)
This report is a rigorous literature review on the political economy of education systems in conflict-affected contexts and is aimed at education advisers and agencies, development practitioners, and Ministry of Education policy makers working in conflict-affected contexts. It is also aimed at the broader education and conflict community of research and practice linked to the Inter-Agency Network of Education in Emergencies (INEE). The report seeks to provide theoretically informed and policy-relevant insights on the global, national and local governance of education systems in conflict-affected contexts.