Evaluation of an early childhood parenting programme in rural Bangladesh

To promote physical and mental development of children, parenting education programmes in developing countries focus on specific practices such as age-appropriate responsive stimulation and feeding. A programme delivered to groups of poor mothers of children, aged less than three years, in rural Bangladesh was evaluated using an intervention-control post-test design. Mothers who had attended a year of educational sessions and their children were compared with those from neighbouring villages who did not have access to such a programme. This article concludes that the mothers in the parenting programme achieved higher levels of knowledge than the control mothers and provided more stimulation for their children. However, the children did not show benefits in nutritional status or language development. This may be due to limitations in the curriculum, which focused more on increasing knowledge of mothers than on improving their practices. Strategies for behaviour change need to be part of the curriculum, such as role plays and rehearsing the practice with one’s child, and peer support in solving each mother’s specific problems in implementing advice. Much needs to be learned about the effectiveness of parenting programmes around the world to develop a model that benefits children and mothers. Organisations offering such programmes are encouraged to allocate a percent of their budget to evaluation research to contribute to this effort

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