Theory of Change Critical Analysis and Learning Framework

Case Study

Developing a learning framework & approach and cultivating culture for collaboration

SIX worked with the Aga Khan Foundation to develop a programmatic approach and holistic learning framework where all projects/investments contributed to a robust theory of change, not running parallel or in their own directions. We also worked on cultivating processes and culture change internally that centred collaboration.


Aga Khan Foundation’s Education Improvement Programme (EIP) for East Africa is a vision for how they collaborate and co-create to strengthen education ecosystems and improve the learning environments, outcomes and futures of all children and young people, at local, national and regional levels, no matter their gender, family income or background.

Through this programmatic approach the aim was to:

  1. increase impact through collaborating, co-developing and testing innovations and best practice;
  2. scale evidence-based, domestic innovations, solutions and best practices together with subsets of AKF-supported and non-AKF schools;
  3. influence national and international dialogue about what works in education

Our approach

Through this project, we sought to understand the frameworks that exist already and to identify the critical assumptions and gaps that play out in data collection and interpretation. We modelled and recommended real-time feedback loops and ICT-enabled supporting tools in data collection.

But more than just frameworks and tools, we were looking out for challenges around organisational innovation mindsets, including approaches to change and uncertainty, abilities to flex and adapt quickly, as well as how to lead and plan for the unknown and create positive environments for change.

We hosted two kick off meetings via zoom within the three country offices in East Africa and prepared ‘week notes’ to keep all stakeholders informed of what we were doing, ensure transparency, and start to embed continued interest and ownership amongst AKF staff at all levels.

We held informal, reflective interviews over two weeks with 24 AKF staff at various levels and roles, and initiated and held two meetings with appointed country leads who supported the dissemination and collection of information, and who are critical players in ensuring a culture is being built around the EIP.


We created a unique, visual learning framework which had four components: clarifying purpose, defining impact, aligning on cross programmatic indicators, and scale and contextualisation. With that, we produced a list of technical assumptions centred around the partners, the tools and processes, the roles inside the organisation, and the strategy around impact, influence and scale.

This became the bedrock for how the Foundation conducts its monitoring and evaluation and strategy approach internally.

“This is about creating new awareness around your roles and relationships. These activities should connect to and be part of other processes and strategies, and should be repeated over time – your roles and the results you’re going for won’t stay the same or last forever.”