Building the capacity to aspire: An experimental evaluation of Youth First Kenya

Last registered on July 20, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Building the capacity to aspire: An experimental evaluation of Youth First Kenya
Initial registration date
July 18, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 20, 2023, 5:24 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Teachers College Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Basic Needs Kenya

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Adolescents in low-resource settings develop low aspirations when faced with life pressures leading to an aspirations trap. We expose eighth-graders in Kenya to a psychosocial intervention (Youth First-Kenya) that aims to bridge the gap between the perception of one’s abilities and what is achievable. We examine the impact on aspirations, enrolment, and achievement of students.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cooper, Peter et al. 2023. "Building the capacity to aspire: An experimental evaluation of Youth First Kenya." AEA RCT Registry. July 20.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The intervention is an in-school program during which trained school teachers facilitate weekly interactive sessions with students, following an evidence-based small-group curriculum. The core curriculum designed by CorStone adapts research and best practices from positive psychology into materials, activities, and skills tailored for young adolescents in Kenya. Teachers (approximately two per school) receive eight days of intensive training and content immersion in a hybrid remote/in-person format. Additionally, teachers receive regular supportive supervision and mentoring by master trainers over five monthly peer support sessions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Student aspirations, enrolment, and academic achievement
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Student aspirations will be measured using self-reported measures using calibration questions as well as using child self-portraits. Student learning will be measured using end-of-year scores on centralized exams.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- Parent-child aspiration difference (along three dimensions: education, career and age at marriage)
- Student aspiration windows (role models and their attributes)
- Effort towards future-oriented behavior (such as forming study groups and approaching the teacher for additional study resources)
- Confidence in using assets and skills targeted through YFK, including problem solving, goal setting, managing emotions, overcoming challenges, and identifying character strengths
- Resilience
- Psychological and social wellbeing
- Gender consciousness
- Teacher-level beliefs and practices
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study is conducted with 250 junior secondary schools across four counties of Kenya – Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kwale, and Mombasa. Half (125) of the schools are randomly assigned to receive the Youth First Kenya (YFK) intervention, while the other half (125) of the schools are randomly assigned to a control group not receiving the intervention. The student sample consists of approximately 9000 students, with 36 students randomly sampled per school. A subsample of 10 students per school and one of their parents/guardians are invited to participate in one-on-one interviews at the beginning and end of the school year. Additionally, two Class 8 teachers at each school are surveyed.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done on computer using STATA code.
Randomization Unit
Randomization is done at the school level, with a matched-pair design.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
250 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
9000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
125 schools control, 125 schools treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The study is powered to detect a minimum detectable effect (MDE) of 0.12σ on student learning and enrollment, and 0.15σ on student aspirations. This calculation assumes an intracluster correlation of 0.18, attrition of 0.15, and baseline to endline correlation of 0.45.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Kenyatta University Ethics Review Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
PKU/2704 /E1828


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials