Abstract: Preliminary Results of the Effects of Participatory Interventions on the Psychosocial Skills and Academic Performances of Children (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Preliminary Results of the Effects of Participatory Interventions on the Psychosocial Skills and Academic Performances of Children

Friday, January 13, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Yiqi Zhu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Background. The EEQAP project aims at improving the quality of the teaching process and the inclusion of all students in the learning process in rural schools of Pakistan and Afghanistan using a participatory approach to define a locally relevant intervention combined with an inclusive education training involving teachers, students and parents. Local communities identified strategies and priorities to further improve education quality. Local NGOs provided resources to locally defined action plan and local communities took lead in implementing their own action plans. Our study evaluated the effectiveness of the interventions on psychosocial skills and academic performance of students.

Methods. Randomized control trials were used to conduct evaluations. Multistage randomized sampling methods were used to select 106 intervention schools (41 in three provinces of Afghanistan namely Badakhshan, Ghazni and Takhar and 65 in two provinces of Pakistan namely Punjab and Sindh) compared to 113 control schools (42 in Afghanistan and 71 in Pakistan). Overall, 5603 grade 3 and 5 children (2544 from Pakistan and 2519 from Afghanistan) were sampled and interviewed at baseline in 2018. No significant difference was found at baseline between the children in intervention and control groups in any of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, in psychosocial skills or in academic performances. Psychosocial skills were measured using the Multidimensional Scale Life Skills in Late Childhood, the Self-Efficacy Questionnaire and the Child and Youth Resilience Measure. Academic performance was measured using locally defined Mathematics, Languages and General Knowledge tests. We also collected data on stigma and discrimination. a second wave of interviews were conducted in 2020 and a third wave is ongoing. Reliability and validity analysis of all instruments were conducted in both countries at baseline. Analysis of change regression models were used to compare the difference in scales between intervention schools and control schools at baseline and midline.

Results. 1745 of the 2519 children from Afghanistan and 1985 of the 2544 children from Pakistan were still in school in 2020. The rest of children dropped out of school or migrated out of our project areas. Twice more girls than boys dropped out of school between 2018 and 2020. In Pakistan, our interventions significantly improved the life skills of girls by 1.7 point after controlling for age and the districts of the schools (p<0.05). In Afghanistan, our interventions significantly improved self-efficacy by 4.2 point in one rural area (p<0.05). Children in intervention schools were also significantly more aware of stigma and discriminations. Academic performances were not found significantly different between the two groups.

Implications. Our preliminary results indicate that our invention had significantly improved psychosocial skills, especially for girls. Non-significant differences were found in different domains of academic performances probably partially because of the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic during the long period of lockdown in 2020. To further explore the effects of the intervention on children, a third wave of data will be available current 2022. Multilevel and longitudinal analysis will be used to further identify the mechanism of interventions.