UPSI-5 and its Relevance for South Africa

The Universal Psychosocial Indicator for 5 Year Old Boys and Girls (or UPSI-5) is a tool developed by ICDI to measure the psychosocial well-being of 5 year old children. It was developed through field research in 6 countries around the globe.

ICDI in partnership with Khululeka Community Education Development Centre, tested the instrument in 4 provinces of South Africa in 90 schools and pre-schools with over 2000 children involved. An advocacy brief based on the findings of the research has been shared with relevant stakeholders in South Africa, to improve Early Childhood Education and Care services and policies for young children in the country.

For more information the UPSI-5 tool, please visit our Tools page.



Data were collected in a total of 90 schools spread across the four provinces, Eastern Cape (22 schools), Free State (19 schools), Kwazulu Natal (27 schools and ECD centres) and Western Cape (22 schools and ECD centres). Most of the settings were primary schools with one or more Grade R 6 classes.

The vast majority of children (83 percent) were living in urban or semi-urban areas.


The main finding was that there was ‘reason for concern’ about the psychosocial well-being of 24 percent of the 2,087 five-year-old children: i.e. just under a quarter.

The highest percentage of children where there was reason for concern was found in the Eastern Cape at 37 percent, followed by the Free State at 28 percent, Kwazulu Natal at 20 percent and finally the Western Cape at 11 percent. In the main, children from urban and semi-urban regions seem to fare better than those living in rural areas

In ICDI, we believe that regular UPSI-5 surveys at school based level will lead to an increase in attention for the psychosocial well-being of children, strengthen and create new policies, encourage innovations, stimulate research, inform training opportunities, and serve young children.

Facts and figures


Khululeka Community Education Development Centre


Liberty Foundation; Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

Project Manager

Margaret Kernan