Developmental Assets and Academic Performance of Adolescents in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa

Byron Gregory Adams, Nora Wiium, Amina Abubakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Overall, youth well-being is crucial, particularly in developmental contexts, such as sub-Saharan Africa, which is experiencing the largest growth in the youth population internationally. The Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework considers the importance of positive experiences, positive relationships and positive environments regarding developmental (further distinguished as internal and external) assets. These assets are important for promoting positive outcomes among youth. Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the importance of developmental assets for academic performance in three sub-Saharan African contexts, represented by Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. Method: In a cross-sectional study, youth from these three countries completed a questionnaire on sociodemographic measures, such as age, gender, parental education (as a proxy for socioeconomic status), measures of developmental assets and academic performance. We used Analysis of Variance to examine mean differences in developmental assets across countries and academic performance. Results: Results indicated that Ghanaian students reported fewer assets than Kenyan and South African students and that across all countries, adolescents who perform academically better reported more developmental assets, in particular, internal assets. Conclusion: This is one of the few studies, which consider developmental assets within the PYD framework beyond the Western context. While we found that mainly internal assets were associated with academic performance, it is important to reiterate that both internal and external assets are theoretically associated with positive outcomes, such as academic performance. Future research may benefit from testing interventions to improve academic performance in the sub-Saharan African contexts by fostering both types of assets. Research is needed to extend the framework to consider more culturally appropriate and contextually relevant assets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-222
Number of pages16
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic performance
  • Developmental assets
  • Positive youth development
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


Dive into the research topics of 'Developmental Assets and Academic Performance of Adolescents in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this