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Education in the Midst of Conflict: One-Year Impacts of an Intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by violence, political instability, corruption, and extreme poverty for decades. To date, the eastern regions remain volatile, and serve as the stage for one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Historically, in contexts of crises, education services are relegated to second place in favor of interventions deemed to be life saving (Burde et al., 2014). Yet, quality education can protect children in contexts of conflict and play a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of violence (Kostelny & Wessells, 2008). The proposed poster will present results from a cluster-randomized impact evaluation of Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ), a school-based intervention developed by the International Rescue Committee to improve the quality of education and life opportunities of children and youth in three eastern provinces of the DRC.

OPEQ consists of two interventions: 1) an integrated curriculum (IC) that embeds IRC’s social emotional learning model, Healing Classrooms, into high-quality reading and math lessons; and 2) a collaborative teacher professional development system (TPD) that provides opportunities for teachers to support and motivate one another in learning and implementing the new curricula. Participation in the TPD and adoption of the IC are expected to improve teacher wellbeing (motivation, burnout) and classroom practices, school environments (supportiveness, cooperation and predictability), student wellbeing (mental health, victimization), and academic performance (geometry, addition/subtraction, reading). Impact estimates after one year of partial implementation show improvements in teacher motivation and burnout, but only for female teachers and teachers with less experience; improvements in mental health outcomes, but only for students in third and fourth grades; and enhancements in students’ perceptions of support from schools and teachers. Full results and implications for policy, practice and research will be discussed at the poster session.