The feasibility of using life skills training in primary schools to improve mental health and academic performance: a pilot study in Kenya
Ndetei DM., Mutiso VN., Musyimi CW., Alietsi RK., Shanley JR., Bhui KS.
Background: There is no Kenyan evidence on the relationship between mental illness and academic performance. We aimed to determine the effect of life skills training on mental health and academic performance. Methods: We administered to 1848 primary school children a researcher designed socio-demographic questionnaire, and the Youth Self Report (YSR) and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) to their parents, followed by eight sessions of life skills training. We extracted data from the individual records of each child on overall performance pre and post training separated by one year. We conducted descriptive statistics, paired sample t-tests, multivariate linear regression analysis and linear mixed model analysis to assess changing patterns of academic performance and any predictive characteristics. Results: There was significant (p < 0.05) improvement in overall academic performance (aggregate marks and all individual subjects) for both lower primary and upper primary classes after the life-skills training intervention. For lower classes (2-4 grades) increase in academic performance was significantly associated with fathers and mothers education levels, region and class. For upper classes, (5-7 grades) increase in academic performance was associated with region, class and age. Conclusions: Life skills training is recommended as it could improve academic performance, but predicted by socio-demographic factors.