Evaluation of a school meals and literacy program in Mozambique
Last registered on July 21, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Evaluation of a school meals and literacy program in Mozambique
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007978
Initial registration date
July 19, 2021
Last updated
July 21, 2021 5:36 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
International Food Policy Research Institute
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
PI Affiliation
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
PI Affiliation
Universidade Pedagogica
PI Affiliation
International Food Policy Research Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2021-06-28
End date
2023-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We will evaluate the impacts of a program that combines school meals and literacy training in 160 schools in Nampula province in Mozambique. We partner with World Vision (WV) Mozambique, which provides school meals acquired from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and who also provides training for teachers and other educators on early grade literacy instruction. School meals are already provided every school day to all students in the study schools and consist of vitamin-fortified porridge. WV will begin to implement an early grade literacy program called “Unlock Literacy” (UL), which comprises two components. First, WV trains teachers in sound pedagogical practices that facilitate early grade reading and will provide coaches to follow up with teachers. Second, community interventions are conducted to encourage parents to help their children read. As part of the community interventions, “reading camps” are established. The reading camps are designed to be interactive and fun learning experiences for children to learn and practice reading outside of school and are run by older children in the community. Schools will be randomly assigned to three groups: school meals only, school meals + teacher training, or school meals + teacher training + enhanced reading camps. In this final experimental arm, reading camps will be supported by a designated teacher at the school to ensure that meetings are regular and that parents and the school council support the camps. This evaluation will focus on the impacts of this programming on the reading abilities of students in grade 4, student attendance and grade attainment, teacher attendance, teaching practices, and student nutrition. We hypothesize that the combination of school meals and teacher training will improve reading outcomes and may improve attendance, attainment, and teacher practices. We further hypothesize that the addition of the enhanced reading camps will further improve reading, attendance, and attainment.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Chimbutane, Feliciano et al. 2021. "Evaluation of a school meals and literacy program in Mozambique." AEA RCT Registry. July 21. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7978-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
USDA, through McGovern Dole (MGD), funds school feeding in Mozambique. World Vision’s (WV) “Unlock Literacy” (UL) program will be implemented in Nampula province in Mozambique and is also implemented in several other African countries.

The school meals consist of porridge with micronutrients (vitamins and others) added and are provided to all teachers and students at the school, every school day. Students from different grades take turns to have their meals together.

UL has two components: teacher training and community action. The teacher training comprises training of all teachers in the school on pedagogical techniques for early-grade reading. Teachers are taught the five phases of reading: letter knowledge, sounding out words, reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Teachers learn to create a print-rich environment in their classrooms and ensure that children remain motivated while learning to read. They are also provided with materials including books and classroom aids. These materials are in the local language, using locally relevant exercises, and are targeted at the appropriate grade level.

The community component of the UL program has several elements. First, parents are brought together in groups to learn about and discuss the importance of schooling, and especially of reading. They are taught ways to help their children with reading at home, for example, incorporating reading exercises in daily life, such as during cooking or cleaning. Second, reading camps are established, whereby a literate teenager in the community meets with children weekly outside of school (usually on the weekends) to create fun reading exercises and motivate children to read.

One experimental arm will include "enhanced reading camps" which will be supported by a designated teacher at the school who will ensure that the reading camps meet and that they are supported by parents and the school council.
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-09
Intervention End Date
2023-08-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Early grade literacy
2) Student attendance
3) Student grade attainment
4) Teacher attendance
5) Teaching practices
6) Child nutrition
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA)
2) Attendance rate of grade 4 students on the day of the endline interviews
3) Follow-up (with the school principal) of baseline students two years later to determine who is still in school and in which grade
4) Attendance of grade 4 teacher in the past 5 days as recorded in the school records
5) A classroom observation will be conducted - specific instrument TBD
6) Number of meals eaten per day
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
1. School meals only
2. School meals + Unlock Literacy program
3. School meals + Unlock Literacy program + enhanced reading camps
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done in the office by a computer, stratifying schools with respect to enrollment (above/below median enrollment) and the number of teachers (above/below median number of teachers within the enrollment strata).
Randomization Unit
School
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
160 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,600 students, 160 teachers, 160 school principals, 160 school cooks
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1. School meals only = 60 schools
2. School meals + Unlock Literacy program = 50 schools
3. School meals + Unlock Literacy program + enhanced reading camps = 50 schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
International Food Policy Research Institute IRB
IRB Approval Date
2021-04-27
IRB Approval Number
PHND-21-0412
IRB Name
Comitê Nacional de Bioética para Saúde (CNBS)
IRB Approval Date
2021-02-18
IRB Approval Number
2657