Youth Leaders for Early Childhood Assuring Children are Prepared for School (LEAPS) - Pakistan

Pakistani young children and LEAPS youth leader engaging in an education lesson.
Pakistani young children and LEAPS youth leader engaging in an education lesson. © Courtesy LEAPS

Introduction

Two sensitive periods of brain and human development occur during early childhood (0-8 years) and late adolescence/youth (18- 24 years). The Youth Leaders for Early Childhood Assuring Children are Prepared for School (LEAPS) was developed and piloted in rural Pakistan by researchers at Aga Khan and Harvard University, and in close cooperation with the Government of Pakistan’s National Commission of Human Development (GoP-NCHD) and researchers at the Yale Child Study Center. The program is a cross-generational intervention to train female community youth leaders (ages 18-24) to deliver an Early Childhood Education program to young children.

The program’s design builds upon the inter-relationships among peace, social capital, and sustainable development, and draws from existing evidence to substantiate these pathways. Results from a cluster randomized controlled trial to measure the effects of LEAPS on participating children and youth revealed children who participated in the program scored higher on the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA) for child development . Participating youth scored higher in executive function tests after participating in the program. There was also evidence of positive perceptions with regards to the mentorship relationship, sense of empowerment, and professional growth. A process evaluation framework was applied to assess fidelity of implementation, quality, and access and barriers to implementation.Heading 4

The LEAPS program is first of its kind, and follow a theory of change grounded on the dual benefits of early childhood and youth development programming as a mechanism for sustainable development and social transformation.

This research is made possible by the Saving Brains Program, Grand Challenges Canada, Seed Grant No: 0705-03.


Contributor: Angelica Ponguta, PhD, MPH, serves as Expert Consultant to the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC). She is Research Scientist in the Yale Child Study Center.

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