Protecting Early Childhood Development in Malawi Impact Evaluation Survey 2011-2012
The Government of Malawi recognizes that investment in early childhood development (ECD) is a cost-effective strategy to meet its development objectives in areas of health, nutrition, education, and social protection. In Malawi, ECD is delivered through an extensive network of community initiated and owned centers for the most vulnerable children under the age of six, known as Community-based Childcare Centers (CCBCs). The recent global food, fuel, and financial crises hit Malawi hard. Constrained government budgets and activities for ECD have jeopardized the service delivery of the existing ECD centers which cover about a third of all 3-6 year old children. From 2010 to 2012, the Protecting Early Childhood Development Project (PECD) aimed to mitigate the negative effects of the recent global crises on young children and to start building foundations against future crises. A rigorous impact evaluation of the PECD project in Malawi has been designed to test interactions between existing approaches to improve quality in the preschool sector to maximize effects for primary school readiness. The impact evaluation will test the effectiveness of different approaches to improve quality of ECD Centers, parenting knowledge and practices, and child development and school readiness. The evaluation follows a cluster-randomized control trial design in which 199 CBCCs in four of Malawi’s 28 districts were randomized after baseline into one of three treatment arms or to a control arm.
This Impact Evaluation (IE) has three primary research objectives, which are both academically important and pertinent for policy makers in low-income countries: (1) To evaluate the effect of intensive training and mentoring of teachers andcaregivers at CBCCs in rural sub-Saharan Africa on young children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development; (2) To determine how can cash incentives be used to retain teachers and caregivers and make them more effective; (3) To assess whether parenting education can be an effective substitute or complement to the efforts to improve preschool quality with respect to child development outcomes.
The baseline survey was conducted between September 30, 2011 and February 17, 2012. Follow-up data was collected between May 13, 2013 and October, 2013. The endline survey is proposed for May - June 2014. Data collection at baseline involved the administration of the mother/guardian and CBCC questionnaires, enumerator observations at the CBCC, and measurement of child development and anthropometric status.
Kind of data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Data was collected in Balaka, Thyolo, Nkhatabay, and Dedza districts.
Unit of analysis
- Community-based childcare centers (CBCC) and their committee chair/caregivers
- 3-4 year old children attending the CBCC
- Mothers/guardians of the 3-4 year old children attending the CBCC
Producers and sponsors
Univeristy of California Berkeley
University of California Berkeley
University of California Berkeley
Univeristy of Malawi, Chancellor College
Rapid Social Response Fund, World Bank
Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, World Bank
Financing of midline and endline surveys
This study is a cluster-randomized controlled trial with one control arm and three treatment arms. Four study districts (Balaka, Thyolo, Dedza, Nhkata Bay) that provide adequate representation of the regions in Malawi were chosen by the MGCSW for inclusion in the study. Sample size calculations for a multi-site, cluster-randomized trial estimated that 240 CBCCs and 12 children from each of the CBCCs would be necessary to detect small to moderate impacts (0.2 to 0.25 standard deviations) on child development measures (the PPVT, specifically) with 95% confidence and 80% power. A full listing of all CBCCs eligible to receive the intervention from the MGCSW produced only 199 CBCCs in the four districts, however; therefore, all 199 CBCCs were included in the study.
Randomization was conducted in each district separately to ensure that equal numbers of CBCCs were allocated to each of the study arms within each district. To ensure a balance of important baseline characteristics, which are strongly prognostic of cognitive development outcomes of interest, a "block randomization" procedure was used. Information about the variables used for blocking (child anthropometrics and scores on developmental tests) was collected during the baseline survey.
The sample includes 2,120 children, ages 3-4 years, attending the CBCCs from the village. These children were randomly selected (blocked by age and sex) from the group of children attending the CBCCs on the day the baseline data collection teams visited the school. Therefore, selection bias should not be an issue.
The PECD project focuses on four interventions:
1. Play and learning materials: kit of basic play and learning materials and supplies
2. Caregiver training and mentoring: enhanced 5 week residential training program for caregivers including fieldwork and mentoring
3. Caregiver incentives: small monthly cash incentive to encourage retention and performance
4. Parenting education: 12 group sessions for parents with 3- and 4-year olds focused on practical activities
Control and treatment groups are to receive the following interventions:
1. Control Group: Play and Learning Materials Only
2. Treatment Group 1: Caregiver Training + Play and Learning Materials
3. Treatment Group 2: Caregiver Training + Incentives + Play and Learning Materials
4. Treatment Group 3: Caregiver Training + Parenting Education + Play and Learning Materials
Data was collected from all 199 CBCCs. Included are developmental test scores and anthropometric measures from all 2,120 children, as well as responses from 2,030 mothers/guardians who completed the mother/guardian questionnaire and whose children were included in the analysis. The child data excludes 15 cases in which the child was disqualified (due to age) or refused to participate in the study. The four refusals from the mother/guardian survey are included.
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Data collection supervision
Data collection was overseen by an Impact Evaluation Field Coordinator from the World Bank who conducted spot-checks in the field as well as data entry.
Data collection at baseline involved the administration of the mother/guardian questionnaire, measurement of child development and anthropometric status, administration of the CBCC questionnaire, and enumerator observations at the CBCC.
Data can be linked across datasets using the 3 digit CBCC ID. Each child respondent participating in the study has a unique 6 digit ID consisting of the CBCC ID (3 digits) + Child Listing Roster ID (2 digits) + 1/2/3 (indicating whether the child was the first, second, or third child with the same mother/guardian to be entered). Each mother/guardian interviewed has a unique 5 digit ID which is the first 5 digits of the (6 digit) Child Respondent ID. For example, a child attending CBCC 399 and listed 12th on the child listing roster with no other siblings listed will have the ID of 399121. His/her mother/guardian would have the ID of 39912.
The use of the datasets must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the identification of the Primary Investigator (including country name)
- the full title of the survey and its acronym (when available), and the year(s) of implementation
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download (for datasets disseminated online).
Michelle Neuman, World Bank, Berk Ozler, World Bank, Lia Fernald, Univeristy of California Berkeley. Protecting Early Childhood Development in Malawi Impact Evaluation Survey 2011-2012, Baseline. Ref. MWI_2011_PECD_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.