Journal Article

Improving the Quality of School Interactions and Student Well-Being: Impacts of One Year of a School-Based Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Published by
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
Authored by
Catalina Torrente, Brian Johnston, Leighann Starkey, Edward Seidman, Anjuli Shivshanker, Nina Weisenhorn, Jeannie Annan, and John Lawrence Aber
Learning Domains and Outcomes - Physical Wellbeing
Research and Evidence

Improving the quality of education for millions of children worldwide has become a global priority. This study presents results from the first experimental evaluation to test the impact of a universal school-based program on (1) the quality of school interactions (i.e., students’ perceptions of the level of support/care and predictability/ cooperation in their school and classrooms), and (2) students’ subjective well-being (i.e., peer victimization and mental health problems). The study took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a low-income country affected by decades of conflict. The evaluation employed a cluster-randomized trial, where the unit of randomization was clusters of two to six schools. Included in the analyses were 3,857 students in second through fourth grades, who attended sixty-three schools nested in thirty-nine clusters. After one year of partial implementation, multilevel analyses showed promising but mixed results. The program had a significant positive impact on students’ perceptions of supportive and caring schools and classrooms, but a negative impact on their sense of predictability and cooperation. The program’s average effect on students’ subjective well-being was not statistically significant, but differential impacts were found for various subgroups of students. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the study and future directions for research in this field.