Preventing violence against adolescents in schools: understanding implementation of the Empateach intervention in Nyarugusu refugee camp

Lead Research Organisation: London Sch of Hygiene and Trop Medicine
Department Name: Public Health and Policy

Abstract

School is one of the most common settings where children and adolescents may experience violence; and emerging evidence suggests that in some settings, school staff may be one of the most common perpetrators. This may be even more common in emergency settings where people have been displaced, as histories of trauma may contribute to increased likelihood of violence. This study aims to understand whether a school based intervention can reduce violence against children in schools in Nyarugusu, a refugee camp in Tanzania, which provides refuge for populations fleeing conflict from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. The Empateach intervention leverages behavioural science techniques to change teachers' beliefs and behaviours towards corporal punishment.
With funding from MRC, we will conduct a mixed-methods process evaluation to explore how the Empateach intervention reduces violence against adolescents in schools; which factors make it easier and more difficult to implement the intervention is practice; and whether the intervention is cost-effective. This research will run parallel to a randomised controlled trial aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the intervention in reducing levels of violence against students.
We will speak to both individuals and groups of students, teachers, parents, headteachers, discipline teachers and other key stakeholders to understand their conceptualisations of 'violence' and 'discipline' among students, parents, teachers and administration and delve into the experience of teachers, students and school administration with the intervention to understand what participants felt 'worked' and 'didn't work' and to gain insight into the mechanisms of action (or lack of action) of the intervention.
We will also conduct quantitative analyses of survey data to explore whether the intervention works better in schools with certain characteristics, what was and was not implemented according to plan, to what extent individual teachers and schools participated in the planned activities, and which individual teachers participated in the intervention and which completed a high proportion of activities. We will also use a number of intermediate indicators in the intervention theory of change to understand pathways of change in individual teachers' and students outcomes. The study will also include an economic evaluation to estimate the costs and cost-effectiveness of the Empateach intervention.

Technical Summary

We will conduct a process evaluation of the Empateach intervention, which leverages behavioural science techniques to change teachers' beliefs and behaviours around corporal punishment, in Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania. This study will run alongside a randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of the intervention.
We will conduct quantitative analyses of survey data from n=1250 students and n=500 teachers, and routine data collected from 27 schools, to explore whether school level background characteristics are associated with levels of intervention implementation and levels of violence; we will examine what was and was not implemented (fidelity), the exposure of individual teachers and schools (dose), and which individual teachers participated in the intervention and which completed a high proportion of activities (reach); finally, we will investigate pathways of change in individual teachers' and students outcomes using causal mediation analysis. We will also conduct qualitative analyses of data from approximately 200 individual interviews and 20 focus groups, drawing on techniques from Grounded Theory, including constant comparison and searching for deviant cases. We will explore conceptualizations of 'violence' and 'discipline' among students, parents, teachers and administration; assess the intervention implementation from the perspective of school administrators and management inside and outside schools, to inform scale up (including what aspects of the intervention were easy and more difficult to implement, what changes were made during implementation, and any patterns noted in participation); and we will delve into the experience of teachers, students and school administration with the intervention to understand what participants felt 'worked' and 'didn't work' and to gain insight into the mechanisms of action. The study will also include an economic evaluation to estimate the costs and cost-effectiveness of the Empateach intervention.

Planned Impact

If the intervention is effective, children and adolescents attending schools in Nyarugusu camp will benefit from reduced levels of violence, improved school connectedness and well-being. In addition to these direct benefits, we have plans to ensure impact across national and international policy and programmatic arenas.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) works in over 40 countries around the world and is committed to scale the program to other crisis-affected contexts. The IRC will also work with the Education Quality Improvement Programme-Tanzania (EQUIP-T), which targets 2.3 million enrolled primary students in 4,452 schools throughout Tanzania; and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, which is responsible for teacher professional development in Tanzania; to scale the programme nationally. The IRC will also make all program materials freely available online in English for use by other education providers.
We will publish at least 6 peer-reviewed academic papers in high-quality journals and at least 1 policy brief and 1 non-academic report for engagement with non-academic stakeholders at international conferences. We will circulate via the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network (which includes over 300 violence prevention NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa), the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Listserv (a global network of actors interested in violence prevention, maintained by the South African Medical Research Council).
The research team is well connected with high-level international program, policy and research bodies, including UNICEF, WHO, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, UNESCO and international NGOs including Save the Children and Plan International. The IRC also maintains active participation and leadership roles in strategic global and regional networks and forums related to child protection and education, including the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, the Comparative and International Education Society, the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, the Education and Development Forum, the High Level Political Forum for the Sustainable Development Goals, and at the United Nations General Assembly. We will disseminate academic and non-academic outputs through this large network. We will produce a webinar at the end of the project in conjunction with the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Learning Network (which is a network of academics, practitioners and policy makers globally, hosted by Columbia University). Dr Devries is a faculty member of the CPC Network, and has previously given webinars attended by hundreds of researchers and practitioners. This will also raise awareness and encourage uptake of novel ideas and findings generated by the proposed research.
We will raise awareness of the detrimental effects of school violence during adolescence via our media networks. IRC has a popular online blog and dedicated Policy & Advocacy Department, and strong partnerships with BBC Media Action, Tanzania - who have already expressed interest doing a segment on our work and sharing it with their 12 million listeners across the region - and Ubongo Learning, which reaches 440 million children, 6.4 million households, across 31 countries in Africa. The IRC is also a member of a learning consortium of local implementing agencies dedicated to preventing violence against children in East Africa, led by Impact and Innovations Development Centre, which has committed to amplifying the findings of our work across their networks in East Africa. Co-Investigators at NIMR have ongoing activities to support adolescents' health and skills development and have networks through which the findings can be widely publicised.