Protecting Early Childhood Development Impact Evaluation 2014-2015
1-2-3 Survey, phase 3
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:
- to evaluate the effect of intensive training and mentoring of teachers and caregivers at CBCCs in rural sub-Saharan Africa on young children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development;
- determine how can cash incentives be used to retain teachers and caregivers and make them more effective;
- 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 (midline) data was collected between May 13, 2013 and October, 2013. Part 1 of the endline survey, consisting of CBCC questionnaires and enumerator observations at the CBCC, was collected between May and July 2014. Part 2 of the endline survey, involving administration of the mother/guardian questionnaire, and measurement of child development, took place between January and March 2015.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
- Community-based childcare centers (CBCC) and their committee chairs or caregivers
- Children from the baseline survey sample
- Mothers/guardians of the children from the baseline survey sample
The scope of the endline survey includes:
- Registration, attendance at CBCC
- Characteristics of children attending CBCC
- Staff information (work load, selection process, and training)
- Caregiver roster
- Water, sanitation, toilet facilities
- Health and food
- Curriculum and daily activities
- Assessment of children's memory, sustained attention, problem-solving, vocabularly, and early numeracy skills
- Schooling information, household stimulation, socio-emotional behavior, observation of mother-child interactions.
Data was collected in Balaka, Thyolo, Nkhatabay, and Dedza districts.
Producers and sponsors
Michelle J. Neuman
University of Pennsylvania
University of California, Berkeley
Univeristy of California, Berkeley
Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund
Early Learning Partnership
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 baseline 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. All 199 CBCCs which participated in the baseline survey were included in the endline sample.
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
The child respondents (and their respective mothers/guardians) to be interviewed and tested for the PECD endline survey were amongst the initial baseline sample. During the endline (part 1) survey in May-July 2014, the location of all 2,120 baseline children was asked to the CBCCs and communities. The endline sample was determined by taking all children that still live in their original communities (as of mid-2014) as well as a sample of those children who have moved outside their original community and were determined to be trackable. It was expected that child assessments to be administered to all children in the endline sample, regardless of their current location.
Dates of Data Collection
Endline (mother and child level)
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
Data collection was overseen by an Education Specialist from the World Bank and local ECD expert from who conducted spot-checks in the field. Spot-checks on data entry were conducted by a local consultant from the World Bank.
Data Collection Notes
Part 1 endline data collection took place over a period of one day at each Community-based Childcare Center (CBCC). Upon arriving at a center, two enumerators study team introduced the study and administered the CBCC questionnaire to the CBCC director, conducted CBCC observations, and completed the CBCC caregiver interview.
Part 1 endline PECD survey included following instruments:
- Community-based Childcare Centers (CBCC) Questionnaire
- Classroom Observation
- Child Pre-Tracking Information
- Closed CBCC form (when applicable)
Part 2 endline PECD survey included following instruments:
- Mother/Guardian Questionnaire
- M/G Consent Form
- Mother-Child Observation
- Child Assessment Survey (Hand movements, Leiter Sustained Attention, Number Recall, Triangles, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA))
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).
Berk Ozler, World Bank; Michelle J. Neuman, University of Pennsylvania; Lia Fernald, Univeristy of California, Berkeley. Malawi Protecting Early Childhood Development Impact Evaluation 2014-2015, Endline Survey. Ref. MWI_2014_PECDIE-EL_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.
DDI Document ID
Development Data Group
Education - GP
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
v01 (July 2015)
v02 ( March 2019) - with variable level metadata