Building social skills and social capital among refugee children

Last registered on December 20, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Building social skills and social capital among refugee children
Initial registration date
December 10, 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
December 20, 2023, 9:29 AM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

Royal Holloway University of London

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Monash University
PI Affiliation
University of Southampton
PI Affiliation
Monash University
PI Affiliation
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development
PI Affiliation
BRAC Institute of Education and Development

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project evaluates a play-based intervention for Rohingya refugee children at Humanitarian Play Labs (HPL) in Bangladesh. Using a cluster RCT, we test whether HPL activities such as group play and art can improve social skills, social capital, mental health, physical, and cognitive development. The intervention runs for 12 weeks, offering a structured environment to develop key life skills for children aged 3-5. Our aim is to determine if these activities are a cost-effective, scalable way to build important skills among refugee children.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Arman, Raied et al. 2023. "Building social skills and social capital among refugee children." AEA RCT Registry. December 20.
Experimental Details


In this project, we assess the effectiveness of an intervention targeting Rohingya children (3–5 year-olds) participating in BRAC’s Humanitarian Play Labs (HPLs). These are pre-schools established by BRAC Bangladesh in the refugee camps where about a million Rohingya people now live. At HPLs, children learn rhymes (Kabbya), hear positive stories (Kissa), watch pre-recorded videos (Watch, play, and learn), participate in play (Moving and doing) and art activities (Drawing and creating), and do ‘goodbye’ activities (Breathing exercises). HPLs are open for five days a week and 2 hours a day, where children carry out the general activities (kabby, kissa, watch and learn, and goodbye activities) for one hour and physical and creative activities (moving and doing, and drawing and creating) for one hour. Each HPL has two HPL leaders (or tutors) and the size of the HPL varies.

The idea of the intervention is to introduce various weekly activities to Rohingya refugee children and also varying how those activities are performed by the children (groups versus individual) within the preschool setting of the HPLs. All activities will be delivered over a period of about 12 weeks, giving participating children ample opportunities to develop their social and collaborative skills. At the end of the 12-week period, we will collect information about various outcomes including, social skills, trust and altruism, friendships, mental health, cognitive and physical development among others. These outcomes will allow us to then assess how much scope there is for this type of simple activities to help build various skills among the community of refugee children. This will help us establish whether they offer a scalable policy, both in terms of their cost and feasibility.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
• Lab-in-the-field measures of social capital: (i) Trust (using a standard trust game), once with group members and again with another child in the same HPL; (ii) altruism (using a standard dictator game). The dictator game will be played thrice, with three different opponents: first, with one of the group members; second, with another child in the same HPL pocket; finally, with another child from a different HPL pocket. Having these three stages in the dictator game will allow us to check if altruism is more ‘local’ or ‘global’. All games will be played with candies. Lab-in-the-field experiments will only be conducted at the endline.
• Social skills: (i) Friendship network, (ii) social skills (prosociality and peer problem scales from SDQ, and communication and personal-social skills from ASQ-3).
• Mental health of children (SDQ focusing on three difficulties – conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention problems, and emotional problems).
• Physical development: Gross and fine motor skills from ASQ-3 module.
• Cognitive development: Problem-solving skills from ASQ-3 module.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
• Mental health of mothers using PHQ-4.
• Other potential channels: (i) How often do they play with same center children after HPL. (ii) How often do they play with other center children after HPL. (iii) Between (i) and (ii), which group they play most with. (iv) Channels through mothers – mothers’ time involvement with children (playing together, help with study/learning, and leisure activities). (iv) Channels through HPL tutors – tutors’ daily time spent at HPL and which children came to her/him to seek help to capture interaction with tutors.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We aim to conduct the study at BRAC’s center-based Humanitarian Play Lab (HPL) pockets, attended by children between the age of 3-5 on a regular basis. We target a new intake of children who are about to start attending HPL centers. We have the following treatment arms:
• Treatment Arm: Children in this group participate in various HPL activities.
• Control Arm: Children, from the same age group, who do not participate in any activities and, hence, are not part of any HPLs.

In the treatment arm, we also randomly varied how children performed the activities in the following way:
o GP—Performing all activities in groups: Children in these HPLs performed all activities in small groups. We had two types of groups:
o FGP—Fixed group: Children in these HPLs performed all activities in small groups and these groups remained fixed for 12 weeks and group members never changed.
o VGP—Variable group: Children in these HPLs performed all activities in small groups and these groups were re-randomized every three weeks. That is, each child was part of four different groups, each time grouped with different children.
o IN—Performing all activities individually: Children will participate in only individual activities that are included in the HPL curriculum for the 12-week intervention period. That is, they never perform any activities in group during the 12 weeks intervention period.
o GPIN—Performing activities both individually and in groups: Children in these HPLs participate in both GP (especially VGP) and IN activities.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
HPL (pre-school center) level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
45 HPL centers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
45 HPLs with 1403 children.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1403 children aged 3-5. 1095 children in the treatment and 308 in the control arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
BRAC School of Public Health
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB-16 October'22-040
Analysis Plan

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