Working Paper
Improving parenting practices for early child development

Experimental evidence from Rwanda

This paper investigates the short- and medium-term impact of a randomized group-based early child development programme targeting parents of children aged six to 24 months in a poor, rural district of Rwanda.

The programme engaged parents through sessions that included a radio show and facilitated discussions during 17 weekly village-level meetings. Twelve months after baseline, children’s communication, problem-solving, and personal social skills improved in treated groups. After almost three years, the effects on child development outcomes in the full treatment group persisted (by 0.18 SD).

The intervention also resulted in increases in maternal time investments in both the short and the medium term, as well as improvements in parents’ perceptions about their self-efficacy and influence over their child’s development.

A linear mediation analysis shows that 20 per cent of the positive changes observed in child development can be attributed to the increase in time mothers spent engaging with their children.