A Brief Assessment of Learning for Orphaned and Abandoned Children in Low and Middle Income Countries


Assessment of children’s learning and performance in low and middle income countries has been critiqued as lacking a gold standard, an appropriate norm reference group, and demonstrated applicability of assessment tasks to the context. This study was designed to examine the performance of three nonverbal and one adapted verbal measure of children’s problem solving, memory, motivation, and attention across five culturally diverse sites. The goal was to evaluate the tests as indicators of individual differences affected by life events and care circumstances for vulnerable children. We conclude that the measures can be successfully employed with fidelity in non-standard settings in LMICs, and are associated with child age and educational experience across the settings. The tests can be useful in evaluating variability in vulnerable child outcomes.

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), grant No. 5R01HD046345-04. We thank all the children and caregivers who participated in this study. We appreciate the support that has been provided by the partner organizations: KIWAKKUKI in Moshi, Tanzania; ACE Africa in Bungoma, Kenya; SaveLives Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Save the Vulnerables Organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Homeland Meahto Phum Ko’Mah in Battambang, Cambodia; and Sahara Centre for Rehabilitation and Residential Care in Delhi, Hyderabad and Nagaland, India. We thank Anna Both for help in manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Karen O’Donnell.

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In addition to the listed authors, the POFO Research Team members are listed in Appendix.

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The POFO Research Team consists of:

Chris Bernard Agala

Frehiwot Alebachew

Sisay W. Ameya

Robin Briggs

Sopheak Chan

Haimanot Diro

Belaynesh Engidawork

Dafrosa Itemba

Becky Kinoti

Rajeswara Rao Konjarla,

Mao Lang

Dean Lewis

Ira Madan

Cyrilla Manya

Restituta Mvungi

Laura K. Murphy McMillan

Imliyanger Pongen

Pelevinuo Rai

John Shao

Neville Selhore

Amani Sizya

Vanroth Vann

Augustine Wasonga

Gopala Krishna Kaza

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O’Donnell, K., Murphy, R., Ostermann, J. et al. A Brief Assessment of Learning for Orphaned and Abandoned Children in Low and Middle Income Countries. AIDS Behav 16, 480–490 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-011-9940-z

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  • Orphans
  • Learning
  • Performance
  • Low and middle income
  • Tests