World Bank's report on lessons from Shangai's education system

TL;DR: Strong state capacity is the key factor for Shanghai's success.

World Bank released its report "How Shanghai Does It Insights and Lessons from the Highest-Ranking Education System in the World" on the world's top-ranked education system.

Summary of findings in executive summary starts with the following.
One finding is that Shanghai has a high degree of coherence between policy and implementation. The study does not find significant divergence between policy statements and reality. This noteworthy connection between policy and implementation can possibly be attributed to a number of factors, including the cultural and historical Chinese characteristics of top-down and centralized government administration; close monitoring of the programs and policies and alignment of performance with incentives; high levels of professional accountability among teachers, principals, and administrators within the education system; and, to some extent, modest and realistic policy statements and goals. 
Shanghai also stands out for its constant drive to renew and improve its education system and practices. 
I may be a victim of confirmation  bias here as my argument has been that weak state capacity is the binding constraint in our public education system and that our approach to reform has been through interventions as the anchor, glossing over this underlying problem.

Following the above, the report also mentions certain key characteristics of Shanghai - pairing low-performing and high-performing schools etc. It is highly likely that the debate would be around importing these interventions ignoring the aspect of strong state capacity.

In this context, it is useful to remind ourselves that Shanghai is successful not because of these interventions but because of the system which could come up with such interventions and implement them successfully. If we ignore this and simply overlay these interventions on systems with weak capacity, we can achieve disturbance but not disruption.

One should note that ideas for such intervention are rarely the underlying cause and these are not the one's that we should look to import. It's often the drive of the decision makers to address the problem and the underlying capacity to implement the ideas that yield results. Once these are present, ideas and results will follow, customized to contexts. For instance, watch these videos [here, here] of an inspirational IAS officer's initiatives in Maoist-affected Dantewada district of Chattisgarh. There is little coherence between ideas characterized as 'key' in Shanghai and the ones in Dantewada and it needn't be so. The common thing is the 'drive' and 'capacity'.

Focus on the drive to reform and enhancing the capacity. Ideas and results follow.

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