The use of participatory theatre in early childhood development interventions: a focus on mother groups in Choma and Pemba, Zambia.

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Chipili, Moono, Mwaba
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The University of Zambia
This study was an inquiry into the use of participatory theatre (PT) in early childhood development (ECD) interventions with regards to information dissemination and its impact on learners. This study occurred both within the context of a larger study ‘Improving ECD in Zambia’ and as an independent study carried out in Choma and Pemba, Zambia whose sample included 129 participants, with 9 participants from the core study (n=9) and 60 primary and secondary caregiver dyads from the independent study (n=120; females=116, males=4). The study sought to answer the following questions: i) how acceptable was participatory theatre as a means of disseminating information to the mothers in this study, ii) how feasible was the use of participatory theatre in this study, iii) was recall of information enhanced by use of participatory theatre aesthetics, and iv) were activities learnt during these sessions implemented at home? Knowledge was assessed using the Caregiver Knowledge of Child Development Inventory (CK-CDI; Ertem et al., 2007) as integrated with Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices survey (KAPS; based on Rockers et al. 2016). Focus group discussions from the core and independent study asserted that participatory theatre activities were acceptable to learners and implementable. T-test results showed there was a significant difference in CKCDI scores at baseline and endline, all primary caregivers scored higher at endline (M=23.98, SD=4.76) compared to baseline (M=16. 71, SD=5.51), t(43) =-2.81, p=.007, hence in both groups knowledge was enhanced. It also showed that there was a significant difference in CKCDI score between the control (M=21.9, SD=5.11) and PT group (M=25.64, SD=3.79), t(43) =-2.81, p=.007; hence PT had an impact on the learner’s knowledge. However, a regression showed that primary caregiver knowledge did not predict secondary caregiver practice, b = .062, t(44) = 3.59 p=.32. The results indicated that the use of participatory theatre had an impact on the learning of the participants compared to traditional learning models. The implications of these findings on participatory theatre integration into early childhood interventions such as the contribution to knowledge gap on interactive models of information dissemination and enhancement of early childhood development programmes are discussed. Keywords: Child development agents, Early childhood development, Participatory theatre, Primary caregivers, Secondary caregivers,
Performing arts. , Participatory theatre. , Drama in education--Zambia. , Theater and society--Zambia. , Drama in education--Zambia--Congresses.