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Interaction-oriented Early Intervention in Ethiopia: The MISC Approach

Klein, Pnina S. EdD; Rye, Henning PhD


Basic principles of developmentally appropriate parental behavior in Western cultures were integrated within the framework of indigenous practices of childrearing in Ethiopia as part of the interaction-oriented early intervention project in Addis Ababa. The Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC) was chosen to improve the quality of adult-child interactions and consequently, to promote children's learning potential. Families with infants and very young children living in 2 of the poorest communities in Addis Ababa participated in the study and were randomly assigned to the intervention and comparison groups. The indigenous childrearing practices and philosophies of parents, their needs and expectations from their children, and children's language, motor, and socioemotional development were examined. Parent-child interactions were videotaped and analyzed. These measures served as the basis for the intervention in each family. One year following the intervention, mothers in the intervention group were more sensitive, responsive, and optimistic about their potential to affect their child's development than were the mothers in the comparison group. Parent-child interactions included less harsh commands and fewer orders. Six years following the intervention, significant changes were still noted in the quality of adult-child interactions and in developmental measures of the children. The findings confirmed that an increase in age-appropriate, sensitive and affective interactions had positive effects on children's cognitive and socioemotional development.

Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel (Dr Klein); and the University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway (Dr Rye).

Corresponding author: Pnina S. Klein, PhD, The Baker Center, School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 52900 (e-mail:

This research has been supported, in part, by the Norwegian Research Council, NUFU (Norwegian Fund for International University Collaboration), WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, NORAD, and Redd Barna, supporting the implementation of the MISC in Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Norway, Sweden, the United States, and Israel.

©2004Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.