Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ)
Final report on the impact of the OPEQ intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Global TIES for Children: Transforming Intervention Effectiveness and Scale at New York University (NYU) evaluated an initiative entitled, "Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education" (OPEQ) to enhance learning opportunities, academic attainment and social-emotional well-being for more than 480,000 girls and boys in three eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Katanga, South Kivu, and North Kivu. The evaluation of LHC addresses a number of gaps in the evidence base about how to promote students' learning outcomes and well‐being in low‐income and conflict‐affected contexts.
- First, to our knowledge, it is the only evaluation of a school-based program in a conflict-affected country to consider the program impact on both academic skills and social‐emotional well-being.
- Second, it is also, to the best of our knowledge, the first rigorous test of the impact of a school-based program that infuses social‐emotional learning into teacher training and curricular strategies in a conflict-affected country.
The IRC and NYU conducted a three-year cluster-randomized trial of LHC that experimentally evaluated the effectiveness of this component of the OPEQ initiative compared to a wait-list control group that received all elements of OPEQ except the Learning in a Healing Classroom professional development and curriculum. In this report we describe the impact of LHC after one and two years, relative to a control condition, on teacher and student outcomes in two cohorts (groups) of schools, named Katanga 4 and Kivu+. These cohorts are defined by geographic location and timing of implementation. The Katanga 4 cohort has schools that received one year and two years of LHC located in Katanga province. The Kivu+ cohort has schools that received one year of the LHC intervention located in South Kivu and some parts of Katanga province. To answer causal questions, we used data collected in school years 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2012-2013 in the provinces of Katanga and South Kivu.
- Receipt of one year of LHC during the initial year of LHC implementation in the Katanga 4 cohort significantly improved students' reading and geometry scores compared to their control group counterparts. After one year, students in schools implementing LHC had higher perceptions of their teachers and schools as supportive and caring compared to control schools, but lower perceptions of their schools as cooperative and predictable.
- Receipt of one year of LHC during the initial year of LHC implementation in the Kivu+ cohort resulted in significantly higher reading and addition/subtraction scores relative to students who did not receive LHC. After one year, students in schools receiving LHC had higher perceptions of their teachers and schools as supportive and caring and as cooperative and predictable.
- Receipt of LHC during a period of LHC expansion (2012-2013) in the Katanga 4 cohort did not result in significantly higher reading, math, or social-emotional outcomes compared to students who did not receive LHC, regardless of whether schools had received one or two years of LHC intervention.
- Regarding teacher outcomes, LHC significantly improved teachers' sense of personal accomplishment during this period compared to the control group. There were no impacts found on teacher motivation, burnout, or dissatisfaction.