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Preventing violence against children in schools (PVACS)

Protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial of the EmpaTeach behavioural intervention in Nyarugusu refugee camp

  • Academic publication
  • 15th Oct 2019



We aim to test the effectiveness of the EmpaTeach intervention to prevent physical violence from teachers to students in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania. EmpaTeach is a 10-week, 14-session, classroom management and cognitive-behavioural therapy-based intervention for groups of teachers for delivery by lay personnel in resource-constrained settings.


We will conduct a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) with parallel assignment and an approximately 1:1 allocation ratio. All primary and secondary schools in Nyarugusu will be invited to participate. Whole schools will be stratified according to whether they are Congolese or Burundian, and primary or secondary schools, then randomised to active intervention or wait-list control conditions via a public meeting with headteachers. We will collect survey data from n = 500 teachers and at least n = 1500 students before the intervention, soon after, and at least 6 months after the end of the intervention. The primary outcome measure will be students’ self-reports of experience of physical violence from school staff in the past week, measured using a modified version of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Screening Tool-Child Institutional at the first follow-up after the intervention. Secondary outcomes include emotional violence, depressive symptoms and educational test scores. Analysis will be intention to treat, using repeat cross-sectional data from individuals.


If successful, the EmpaTeach intervention would represent one of a handful of proven interventions to reduce violence from teachers to students in any setting. IRC provides an immediate platform for scale up of the intervention via its current work in more than 40 conflict-affected countries.

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