Planning and management to improve learning

Coaching in India

© STiR Education
Coaching session between a Mentor Teacher, a Teacher Development Coordinator and a programme manager in Delhi, India.

Amid a global learning crisis, IIEP supports countries by ensuring robust management and improved use of learning assessment data in the policy and planning cycle. This is done across all levels of an education system, including through the middle tier, to improve learning outcomes for all.

Keep reading to learn more about:     IIEP's approach     Examples of our work

The fundamental goal of education is to prepare, nurture, and grow the minds of future generations so that every person can fulfil their full potential.

However, in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic which shuttered schools almost everywhere for extended periods of time and required a rapid shift to unanticipated modes of remote delivery, education policy-makers across the globe are raising the alarm about a learning crisis. This crisis continues to reinforce pre-existing learning gaps, especially for disadvantaged students. Education systems are thus tasked today with finding solutions for improving teaching and learning.

To respond to these needs, IIEP-UNESCO is increasingly working in the domain of management for learning. This line of work addresses the key relationships and processes that happen above the school level, which are responsible for the distribution of system resources and the implementation of system priorities, including planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

Our approach

Our approach identifies managerial work as a key facilitator for improved teaching and learning. Management for learning means establishing the baseline conditions for schooling, which includes the most fundamental provision of infrastructure, the hiring of educators to staff schools, and policy guidance on what should happen inside classrooms.

The managers for learning are the agents of change and improvement, and they operate not only at the central ministerial level but also at the subnational level. IIEP-UNESCO regards the middle tier, the space between schools and state-level policy-making, as a promising avenue for the transformation of education. Middle-tier actors – such as cluster coordinators, coaches, inspectors, or supervisors, as well as actors in administrative and managerial roles – play a key role in the implementation and monitoring of education policies and plans, which can in turn improve the quality of education at the school level.

As a result, we put an emphasis on developing the capacities of the middle tier as a critical lever for strengthening the delivery and effectiveness of education systems with the overall aim of improving learning for all. 

IIEP’s integrated capacity development offer includes:

  • Training to reinforce the capacities of intermediate administrative structures in Latin America and Africa.  
  • Research on how to better use learning assessment data in policy-making, create an enabling environment for instructional leaders in the middle tier, and to pilot educational quality in Africa. Additional research has explored district education offices, school grants, and the role of cities in reaching educational goals.
  • Technical support to streamline learning in Education Sector Analyses (ESAs) and Education Sector Plans (ESPs), and also to develop the capacities of the middle tier in countries including Cambodia, Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. 

Planning with the middle tier builds on IIEP’s participatory approach to planning. The middle tier can act as intermediaries between central ministries and schools, bringing policy-making closer to where learning and teaching happen. Capacity development for the middle tier can make this crucial level of an education system even stronger.

Explore more

The use of learning assessment data Instructional leaders at the middle tier Quality management
in Dakar




Free Wind 2014/

Spotlight: The missing middle –leveraging the potential of the middle tier in low- and middle-income countries 

Research has demonstrated how the middle-tier can drive transformation in education. To nurture this important part of an education system, IIEP is embarking on the next stage of its research on the middle tier – to collect and use data, and to make recommendations on potential reforms in diverse settings worldwide. 

The comparative research will explore what roles exist at the middle tier, what functions they play, how staff is trained, what tools they use, and what are the enabling conditions to increase the effectiveness of middle tier professionals.


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Learning portal

The IIEP Learning Portal is a single window to comprehensive, up-to-date, relevant, and neutral information on learning issues, from primary through secondary education. It is also a place to build a community where one can participate, share tools, best practices, perspectives and ask questions to enable us to all act together for the future of learning.