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Effectiveness of a youth-led early childhood care and education programme in rural Pakistan: A cluster-randomised controlled trial.

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals encompass lifelong learning from birth to youth to adulthood (Goal 4) and economic opportunities for young people (Goal 8). The targets include improving access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) as well as learning and training opportunities for adolescents and youth. Cross-generational models for young children and youth may offer opportunities to address the interconnections between goals and targets for the next generation. We investigated whether an ECCE programme for young children (3.5-6.5 years) delivered by female youth (18-24 years) in rural Pakistan would be effective on children's school readiness. METHODS:In partnership with the National Commission for Human Development in Pakistan, we implemented the 'Youth Leaders for Early Childhood Assuring Children are Prepared for School' (LEAPS) programme to train female youth to deliver ECCE. The effectiveness of the LEAPS programme on children's school readiness was evaluated in a cluster-randomised controlled trial. We randomly allocated five clusters (villages) to receive the intervention (n = 170 children) and five clusters to control (n = 170 children). Children's school readiness was assessed after nine months of intervention exposure using the International Development and Early Learning Assessment tool. Analyses was by intention-to-treat. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02645162. FINDINGS:At endline, the intervention group had significantly higher school readiness scores (n = 166, mean percentage score 59.4, 95% CI 52.7 to 66.2) compared with the control group (n = 168, mean percentage score 45.5, 95% CI 38.8 to 52.3). The effect size (Cohen's d) was 0.3. CONCLUSION:Trained female youth delivered an ECCE programme that was effective in benefitting young children's school readiness. The cross-generational model is a promising approach to support early child development; however, further evaluation of the model is needed to assess the specific benefits to youth including their skills and economic development.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6300208 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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