UPSI-5 and its Global Relevance, Ethiopia

This project aims to improve the psychosocial well-being of young children, with an emphasis on those growing up in difficult circumstances. 

ICDI has developed the UPSI-5 (Universal Psycho-Social Indicator for Five-Year-Old Boys and Girls), a simple, quick-to-administer, and thoroughly-tested tool, to measure the psychosocial functioning of large groups of five-year-old children. It can be used to track changes about children’s psychosocial well-being over time; to make comparisons among groups (e.g. rural versus urban populations); and to inform early childhood policies and services on a national, regional and local level.

UPSI-5 is a highly-needed and missing complement to prevailing efforts that look exclusively at the physical aspects of children’s health, such as the ‘Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR)’, ‘height-for-age’ and ‘height-for-weight’, or school enrollment.

Already done recently in South Africa, Ethiopia is now the second country where UPSI-5 is implemented. The idea is to start in Ethiopia and then move to other countries (hence the “global relevance”).



The Overall Objective of the project is to improve psychosocial well-being and healthy development for young children, with an emphasis on those growing up in difficult circumstances.

The Specific Objective is to make the UPSI-5 a widely used and recognised tool to measure psychosocial well-being of children and lead to improvements in Early Child Education and Care (ECEC) systems and services.

Expected Results

1.   Enlarged evidence base of UPSI-5 tool by data collection in three new countries: Ethiopia, and hopefully later Nepal and Nicaragua.

2.   Important stakeholders (governments, education and care services, NGOs, parents, etc.) recognise and use UPSI-5 to gauge psychosocial well-being of 5-year old children and to inform policies and services in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC).

3.   Concrete improvements in ECEC systems and services in three countries, with UPSI-5 as catalyzer and ECD Quat as a community-based and participatory monitoring tool.


  • Training session for people who will administer the UPSI-5 (so called ‘data collectors’) and consequent administration of the tool to a minimum of 1000 children in Ethiopia (and hopefully later in Nepal and Nicaragua).
  • At each setting, qualitative information about the use and usefulness of the UPSI-5 will also be collected from the teachers. In addition, relevant background information about the setting, the children, and their community environment will be gathered via an interview with school principals or ECEC directors.
  • Data analysis and discussion of findings with selected and representative stakeholders (policy makers, practitioners, parents) in the format of a focus group.
  • Pilot actions: in a sub-sample locations, a multi-stakeholder committee with the support of local partners will develop a detailed plan of action. Each location will receive a small grant to implement pilot actions aimed at improving psychosocial well-being of children in their communities.
  • Dissemination activities at international and local level to bring attention to the importance of psychosocial well-being of children and to promote the use of UPSI-5 on a larger scale.

For more information on the UPSI-5 tool, please visit our Tools page and download our research report from South Africa.

Facts and figures


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)


Stichting Dioraphte

Project Manager

Margaret Kernan