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Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme Breaks Ground in Providing Evidence and Insights in Preventing Violence Against Children

(26 November 2018) In support of local and global efforts to prevent violence against children, UNICEF South Africa and the UNICEF Innocenti partnered with the Department of Social Policy and Intervention Centre of University of Oxford to incubate and test a programme for parents/main caregivers of adolescents.  This was done over a period of four years in the Eastern Cape province, which has the highest percentage of assaults in the country, 50 per cent of the children live in households with no employed adult and 33 per cent live with neither of their biological parents.READ THE REPORT: Relevance, Implementation and Impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme in South AfricaResearch timeline & methodology:  In 2012 an initial draft programme was discussed with 50 local and international experts who shared advice and programme input. In 2013, community workers   were trained and tasked to deliver the programme to 30 parent-teen dyads (n=60 participants).In 2014, a pre-post test of the revised 2013 programme was conducted with  115 parent-teen dyads (n = 230 participants). In 2015–2016, a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted in 40 townships and traditional semi-rural villages with 552 parent-teen dyads (270 intervention and 282 control; i.e. n = 1104 participants). The pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial looked at the extent to which the intended intervention outcomes were achieved. A qualitative study complemented the trial by looking at the effects of service delivery, policy and socio-economic factors that affected programme effectiveness.The Sinovuyo Teen Parent programme is part of the ‘Parenting for Lifelong Health’ initiative, which aims to develop and test evidence-informed parenting programmes that are non-commercial and relevant to lower and middle income countries.   It is a 14-week parenting programme for at-risk families with 10–18 year-old adolescents, typically delivered to a group of dyads (main caregiver and an adolescent from each household) within a social learning approach. Content can be additionally provided via home visits for those families who miss group workshop sessions. The research undertaken by  UNICEF Innocenti and Oxford University examined the impact, relevance and scalability of Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme.  The aim of these studies was not only to increase the evidence base of what works in lower income contexts, but also to gain insight to the lived experiences of the programme facilitators and the beneficiaries, to learn from programme implementers and government partners on the relevance and applicability of the programme and to ultimately recommend a programme for policy implementation in the South African context. ‘Delivering a parent support programme in rural South Africa: The local child and youth care provider experience’ describes how the facilitators benefited from the training and experience of delivering the programme professionally and personally as well as their recommendations for improvements to Sinovuyo Teen.‘It empowers to attend” captures the voices of  progrmame beneficiaries and  provides a nuanced picture of what changed in the interaction between caregivers and their adolescents and  how these changes took place in addition to what they did not enjoy about Sinovuyo Teen. ‘Policy and service delivery implications for the implementation and scale up of a parent support programme’  provides insight to  the views expressed by programme implementers, government and non-government stakeholders on how the Sinovuyo Teen programme was delivered, to whom and by whom within the broader service delivery context. “Theme” picture used on Sinovuyo manuals  ‘Relevance, implementation and impact of Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in South Africa’ summarizes the findings of the impact of the study,  the perceptions  and experiences of participants and programme implementers and the discussion on key policy and service delivery implications that need to be considered in taking the programme to scale in  South Africa and beyond.The research toolkit  for the randomised controlled trial and the qualitative studies includes the   research protocols, ethics application and approval documents and research instruments that were used   by the UNICEF- Innocenti and Oxford University research team in testing  the effectiveness and implementation of the programme in  2014 and  in  2015–2016.  These tools are merely examples of what can be used for similar purposes. Consideration would need to be given to relevant adaptations in different contexts.The qualitative research on Sinovuyo Teen was informed by an in depth evidence focused literature review on parenting, family care and adolescence in east and southern Africa.   
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Philanthropists Convene in Florence to Champion Children at UNICEF International Council Meeting

(14 November 2018) Combining influence, ideas and expertise, UNICEF’s International Council Meeting convened 12 to 13 November at UNICEF Innocenti’s offices in Florence, Italy, bringing together many of UNICEF’s most influential philanthropic partners, with the aim of tackling today’s most pressing issues for children and developing better solutions for every child. The Council is comprised of UNICEF’s most significant major donors, who meet annually to interact with the UNICEF leadership, learn from each other about their work with UNICEF, and guide the Council’s objectives and structure as a global platform for engagement.UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore opened the two-day meeting with Council members and distinguished guests, including UNICEF staff and private partners, stressing the importance of looking to the future. “It’s extremely important that we look at new and different ways of doing things,” she said, citing UNICEF Innocenti’s research as a driver, pushing evidence-backed solutions forward. UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore, opens UNICEF's 2018 International Council Meeting in Florence, Italy. Fore spoke about how cutting-edge research by UNICEF Innocenti is helping inform better programmes and policies for children globally and urged the Council to support research for children. “Here at Innocenti, UNICEF is leading a unique research initiative called the Transfer Project to explore how cash transfers in Sub-Saharan Africa are helping the poorest children to survive and thrive. This research is now helping governments … reach millions of disadvantaged households with cash assistance,” she said.Fore also mentioned UNICEF Innocenti’s forward-looking  Global Kids Online project adding, “We’re researching the challenges and opportunities of digital technology for young people. Our work is helping governments in, for example, Ghana and Argentina develop programmes and policies that will help protect children online while opening digital learning opportunities.” Fore called on the Council and philanthropists to join forces to support key research to do more for today’s children. “Can we do more work together around some big challenges?” she asked. “The philanthropic community led by partners like Gates and Rotary, have made all the difference in the near- eradication of polio – a huge, historic achievement. Can we match this progress in other areas, investing in a long-awaited HIV vaccine, developing a pathway to legal identity, universal birth registration for every child, or finally making progress in internet connectivity in every part of the world, for every school, including in refugee camps?”UNICEF Innocenti Director, a.i., Priscilla Idele, opened a presentation on why research for children matters more than ever, introducing core research work and opening a discussion on how UNICEF Innocenti research helps assess progress on UNICEF’s commitments to children and finds solutions to close gaps. “These kind of assessments enable us to learn from our successes and failures and to understand what needs to be done differently, but also to hold governments and partners accountable when progress for children falls short of commitments,” she said, adding, “with predictive analysis, we can examine how the past and current trends on societal changes can affect children, for example, knowledge about fertility rates and migration patterns can help us to determine how many schools are needed in the future and where they should be located.” Research is a powerful tool to inform policy and programmes. “Research,” she emphasized, “serves to introduce new ideas, help people identify problems and appropriate solutions in new ways, and provide new frameworks to guide thinking and action.”UNICEF Innocenti's Priscilla Idele, Yekaterina Chzhen, Jacob de Hoop, and Daniel Kardefelt-Winther present on why research matters now more than ever. Cutting-edge research on child poverty and inequality, cash transfers in humanitarian settings, online risks and rights, and adolescent well-being were presented by UNICEF Innocenti researchers Yekaterina Chzhen, Jacob de Hoop, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, and Prerna Banati. UNICEF’s Youth Forum, which included 46 young people from Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, UK, Ireland, Malaysia, Finland and Switzerland, gathered for the first time in Florence in parallel with the International Council Meeting. The Youth Forum explored the challenges and opportunities young people face around the world, and provided an opportunity to challenge assumptions, think differently and create shared visions for a better future.At the concluding ceremony, the youth presented Executive Director Fore with a series of recommendations about the most urgent issues that UNICEF and the world needs to address, including education for all children, gender discrimination, and child poverty. Their collective goals were represented in a mandala of rights they prepared over two days of work. They included supporting youth and adolescents through global networks, providing quality education for both girls and boys, using technology in classrooms, promoting meaningful participation of youth in all sectors, increasing education on peace building and conflict management, forging partnerships with governments and the private sector, and investing in life skills and livelihood opportunities for young people.In response, Fore said that UNICEF and the International Council has a long list of homework to follow up on. “We will be working hard on this,” she replied.
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Florence GOES BLUE to Mark World Children’s Day

(20 November 2018) The City of Florence joined the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti and the Istituto degli Innocenti in lighting the Loggia dei Lanzi and the historic Innocenti facade in blue, the colour that has come to signify children worldwide. By illuminating their monuments in blue, they committed to uphold the rights of childhood and remind the public of their common history of protection, care, support and research for children all over the world on the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The short lighting ceremony was opened by Sara Funaro, Councillor Welfare and Health, Municipality of Florence; Priscilla Idele, Director of the UNICEF Office of Research Innocenti; and Giovanni Palumbo, Director General of the Istituto degli Innocenti.“We are happy and proud to participate in the World Children’s Day by illuminating the Loggia dei Lanzi and the facade of the Istituto degli Innocenti. The Istituto is world-renowned a jewel of architecture and art but above all a symbol of what Florence always was and is: a city with a big heart, at the service of those most in need," said Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence. "It was here, according to a centuries-old tradition, abandoned babies and children found the care, warmth and hospitality they did not always receive in their own homes. Even to this day the Instituto carries out important work for children and the UNICEF initiative could not find a more appropriate and worthy site than this."World Children’s Day is commemorated each year on 20 November, the date the CRC was adopted in 1989. The CRC is the most ratified UN convention and has been signed by 196 countries.  Italy was not only one of the early signatories of the convention, but also committed resources to help implement the CRC by the ongoing support for UNICEF’s Office of Research in Florence.  “Today Florence joins more than 100 countries where key landmarks will #GoBlue for World Children’s Day to symbolically call for greater attention to children’s rights and a brighter future for all children.  We are especially proud to be part of the huge global initiative from the city where humanism, philanthropy and the care of children began more than 600 years ago and flourishes to this day,” said UNICEF Innocenti Director, a.i., Priscilla Idele.Next year, UNICEF Innocenti will simultaneously celebrate the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the CRC, as well as the 30th anniversary of UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti hosted in Florence, Italy, which will also coincide with the 600th anniversary of the Istituto degli Innocenti, established in 1419. “We are honored to be part of the #GoBlue worldwide initiative launched by UNICEF and to ‘paint’ the façade of the Istituto degli Innocenti to commemorate the anniversary of the UN General Assembly's approval of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Adolescence. The principles of this convention have guided the work and activities of our Institute here over the past 600 years caring for the rights of children and young people,” said Maria Grazia Giuffrida, President of the Istituto degli Innocenti.“Each 20th November 20 is a special day for the Istituto degli Innocenti, a day when we celebrate the commitment to a better future for all children starting with inclusive education, the right to play, to live in peaceful, to food, to feel safe. The Istituto degli Innocenti will be always close to where there are children in need. We support this beautiful initiative of UNICEF today as part of our 30-year long collaboration with the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, hosted by the Institute."The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti is the dedicated research centre for UNICEF. Thanks to the continuing support from the Government of Italy, it exercises a leadership role on research, with a mandate to develop a research agenda that focuses on knowledge gaps relevant to the strategic goals of UNICEF and its key partners.Washed in blue light, the Loggiato of Innocenti and the City of Florence will remind the thousands of visitors and residents that pass through its ancient cobble stones each day, of its rich heritage of philanthropy and of its shared commitment to tackling today’s most pressing challenges for children through rigorous research, advancing knowledge and proposing best policies and practices that work for every child, everywhere.On this World Children’s Day UNICEF Office of Research, the Istituto degli Innocenti and the City of Florence join UNICEF offices around the world in raising awareness for the millions of children who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted. UNICEF invites the public to go online and sign its global petition asking for leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child now and for future generations, and to Go Blue for every child by doing or wearing something blue on 20 November. There will be a brief lighting ceremony with the representatives of the institutions tomorrow at 17:00 in front of the Loggiato degli Innocenti on the Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence WATCH: The story of UNICEF Innocenti: Past & Present: A Renaissance of Research for Children
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Report Card 15 An Unfair Start: Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries

(30 October 2018) For the first time ever, UNICEF Innocenti broadcast the launch of its Report Card 15: An Unfair Start – Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries – *live* on YoutTube from its offices in Florence, Italy on 30 October 2018. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, delivered a video address to kick off the launch event, emphasizing that, even after 200 years of public education, we still have a long way to go to close the gaps.
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A second chance for adolescents: “catching up” growth beyond first 1,000 days

(23 July 2018) Undernutrition has made stunted growth and the delayed onset of puberty common in many regions. However, stunting recovery interventions may enable undernourished young people to catch-up on height and other developmental markers. The potential for a ‘catch-up’ growth window in adolescence has been suggested for some time but has not yet been substantiated. A new working paper published by UNICEF Innocenti, The Intricate Relationship between Chronic Undernutrition, Impaired Linear Growth and Delayed Puberty, explores this important opportunity.Adolescent girls react during a nutrition counselling session at the anganwadi center in Maharashtra, India. Chronic undernutrition is characterized by long-term exposure to food of insufficient quality and inadequate quantity. In a state of chronic food insufficiency, the human body conserves energy by prioritizing essential metabolic processes resulting in impaired growth and delayed reproductive maturation.As the human capital of the future, drivers of economic growth, and parents of the next generation, adolescents are an incredibly important group. Therefore, addressing undernutrition in young adolescents is critical. With 15–20% of total height and 45% of adult bone mass achieved during adolescence, this phase may be the final opportunity to influence adult height and mitigate stunting. Growth and development during adolescence are susceptible to nutritional, environmental and hormonal factors and, subsequently, possible modifications.With 15–20% of total height and 45% of adult bone mass achieved during adolescence, this phase may be the final opportunity to influence adult height and mitigate stunting.Knowledge gaps, including adolescent-specific evidence and the long-term effects of undernourishment, inhibit progress in this area. To address this gap, UNICEF Innocenti conducted a workshop bringing together humanitarian and adolescence experts from around the globe. This working paper serves a summary of the biological-centered discussion that took place in the workshop, and outlines knowledge gaps and opportunities.The paper provides a review of key literature on catch-up growth during adolescence, including: catch-up growth from longitudinal cohorts in LMICs; catch-up growth of children born small-for-gestational age; and catch-up growth through a change in environment. Biological mechanisms - including puberty onset, the hormonal consequences of undernutrition, and bone growth – are also considered.A boy has his height and weight measured in South Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The study finds an association between undernutrition, impaired linear growth and delayed puberty. It also acknowledges that puberty is the period in which catch-up growth may (or may not) take place. However, these findings are limited due to uncertainties about the biological mechanisms of growth and adolescent-specific influences on linear growth.Difficulties in determining catch-up growth during adolescence arise from incomplete data on the subject. Despite the available evidence on catch-up growth in adolescence, there is still a lack of high-quality data, particularly for adolescent boys. Methodological inconsistencies in definitions and reference populations make comparison between studies difficult. The practicality of collecting individual-specific puberty and growth measures, for example breast development or long bone fusion, further compounds the issue of incomplete data.Without a global standard to identify catch-up growth in adolescence, mainstreaming results remains a challenge. The paper calls for increased collaboration among stakeholders and consensus on research methods in order to strengthen existing findings. Without more robust evidence, interventions aimed at ameliorating stunting will be compromised. This working paper is one of various pieces of research being conducted on the long-term effects of humanitarian crises including the analysis of genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda on well-being of adolescents and a piece on the knowledge gaps and possible solutions to measure long term effects of crises. This series will also include a final piece on data collection improvements required to capture the long-term effects of undernutrition and to identify more specifically the vulnerabilities of adolescents.
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Bullying: a global challenge requires a global measure

(12 July 2018) Bullying among children is a global challenge, with numerous detrimental side effects that have broader societal implications. Both victims and perpetrators of bullying suffer across various dimensions, including personal social development, education, and health, with negative effects persisting into adulthood. Bullying is also a serious concern for policymakers and child practitioners. High rates of bullying amongst children should raise warning flags regarding child rights’ failings. Moreover, due to its damaging effects on learning and behaviour, bullying in schools could reduce the effectiveness of public investment in children’s education and may incur costs through riskier behaviour in the future. These concerns have contributed to bullying becoming a globally recognised challenge. Yet, despite every region in the world monitoring children’s experiences of bullying, a validated global measure has not been produced. To fill this gap, UNICEF Innocenti’s Education Officer, Dominic Richardson, and Oxford University’s Chii Fen Hiu, have developed a global indicator on bullying by combining data from six international surveys on bullying prevalence amongst 11- to 15-year-olds in 145 countries.Patricia, 14, stands in a hallway at Professor Daniel Cordón Salguero Elementary School in El Salvador. The recently released working paper, Developing a Global Indicator on Bullying of School-Aged Children, documents the process of building and validating this global indicator of bullying. Secondly, the paper provides basic analyses on bullying rates and its links to macro-level determinants, including wealth, educational outcomes, and youth suicide rates. Finally, in the absence of a globally representative survey of children, the paper proposes a method of global indicator development that may be used to operationalise the Sustainable Development Goals.Important findings of the paper include:Experiencing some form of bullying at least once in a couple of months is most common amongst school children in poorer countries. By region, South Asia and West and Central Africa experience most bullying. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States experience the lowest rates of bullying. Neither girls nor boys are consistently more affected by bullying, but often boys and younger children experience more bullying. Bullying risk is not clearly linked with income inequality or educational expenditure, but high risk countries report lower per capita GDP and lower secondary school enrolment.Despite a loss in detail in scale, and much regional data being incomparable, it is possible to harmonise national-level data, to define and validate a measure of bullying risk for global comparison.Global National Map of Bullying by Relative RiskThe vast majority of the globe has usable data, and these have been shaded according to the risk of bullying from light grey (low) to black (high). Gaps in the data (white areas) are most notable in central and West Africa, South Asia, parts of Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS, and islands in the Pacific.At a glance, the global map shows higher risk in the western hemisphere, and lowest risk in the eastern hemisphere. However, this picture serves best to highlight the variation in experiences within regions. Variation is also likely to exist within countries, and between socio-economic and socio-demographic groups, and which cannot be uncovered using this analysis. The findings of the paper show that bullying is a complex phenomenon that takes multiple forms, and is experienced to widely varying degrees across the world. Importantly, the paper acknowledges those children who may be missing from the surveys on which the indicator is based. School-based surveys are limited insofar as they are selective in terms of the children they include and the questions they ask, thus influencing results. In particular, cyber-bullying is not included in the indicator. This increasing concern is explored in Innocenti’s work on Child Rights in the Digital Age. Full details by country, including year of study, average age group, source of data, and raw estimates (including gender breakdowns) can be found in the annex of the paper.
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Best of UNICEF Research 2018 Winners List Published

(11 July 2018) Now in its sixth edition, Best of UNICEF Research continues to be a fertile source of inspiring, rigorous and influential evidence. Each year, UNICEF’s Office of Research—Innocenti invites UNICEF offices around the world – including country offices, regional offices, national committees, and headquarters - to submit recent examples of research for children. The aim is to bring attention to work that contributes to shifting policy agendas and has a high potential for impact on policies and programmes that benefit children.Fourteen-year-old Amina Hassan (name changed) in the Ifo refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border. Amina has never attended school and was married off by her parents at age 12.  Showcasing some of the most innovative and rigorous research coming out of UNICEF, the winners cover a range of topics, locations, cultures and levels of economic development. Following an internal review of 105 eligible submissions, UNICEF Innocenti staff identified 12 finalists which were then independently reviewed by an external panel of international experts.  Acknowledging their strong conceptualization, sound methodology, originality and potential for impact, the panel selected the following winners: FGM/C and Child Marriage Among the Rendille, Maasai, Pokot, Samburu and Somali Communities in Kenya Produced by UNICEF Kenya with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and UNFPA. The panel commended this piece for its grounded inquiry through its exploration of local perceptions. Prioritizing understanding over condemnation, the study takes a step towards working with communities rather than against them to expedite the eradication of harmful practices. One of the study’s main strengths is its comprehensive mixed methods approach. This allowed for a detailed and thoughtful discussion including considerations about gender, ethnicity and religion.Understanding Child Multidimensional Poverty in EgyptProduced by the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS), the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), and UNICEF Egypt. This innovative report provides evidence to inform integrated interventions to address child poverty. Using a life-course approach and focusing on the child as the unit of analysis, the report effectively captured children’s different experiences of deprivation. A strength of the report was the clear linkage of the results of the study with existing policies and the SDGs. Lives Interrupted: Adolescent Homicides in Fortaleza and in six municipalities in the state of CearáProduced by UNICEF Brazil, the Legislative Assembly of Ceará and the Government of Ceará. The panel found this report to be a “brave and compelling study that offers an innovative and captivating way of conducting and presenting research”. Complementing the deep scope and robust analyses, the report uses a story-telling approach to magnify its impact. By using the biographies of young people who have been murdered, as well as gathering data from family members and statistical data on young people’s experiences, the study achieves an effective integration of quantitative and qualitative analyses.UNICEF Innocenti is particularly excited to see that the three winners are from countries that have never before been shortlisted as finalists for the Best of UNICEF Research. It is motivating to see a submission by the MENA region among the top three for the second year in a row, as this region is typically underrepresented when compared to other regions’ number of submissions. The most prevalent themes this year include child protection and health, as well as submissions with cross-cutting themes.The Importance of EthicsFollowing a 2016 review of assessment criteria, ethical considerations were given a high priority, meaning that any submissions that fell short of ethical standards were not considered for shortlisting. While the quality of submissions significantly increased this year, disappointingly many high-quality reports were deemed ineligible or poorly rated due to an insufficient concern over ethics. Of 105 submissions, 16% failed to report on their ethical procedures, while only 10 submissions were found to have reported ethics to a high standard, including how consent was sought and a discussion of any potential ethical issues. UNICEF Innocenti is committed to ensuring that all research undertaken by UNICEF and its partners is ethical, and has developed procedures and guidelines to help researchers ensure ethical research involving children.The Top 12 SubmissionsCommenting on the twelve finalists, the panel found that all reports produced findings that are very relevant to UNICEF’s work and country-specific priorities, with many already impacting national policies and programmes. Reviewers noted that while many studies align to current needs in the country of study, others stood out thanks to their original approach. When assessing impact, the panel found it challenging to select between innovative projects and those that focused on familiar topics that continue to impact children in low and middle-income countries. The panel noted the challenge in selecting the best three out of a variety of high quality research output. Congratulations to each of the 12 finalists for their extremely strong submissions:Indonesia: Children in Indonesia: An analysis of poverty, mobility, and multidimensional deprivationEgypt: Understanding Child Multidimensional Poverty in EgyptKenya: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and Child Marriage among the Rendille, Maasai, Pokot, Samburu and Somali Communities in KenyaBrazil: Lives Interrupted: Adolescent homicides in Fortaleza and in six municipalities in the state of CearaGlobal (NYHQ): Quality improvement initiatives for hospitalised small and sick newborns in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic reviewAfghanistan: Understanding threats to polio vaccine commitment among caregivers in high-priority areas of Afghanistan: a polling studyNigeria: Effect of Female Teachers on Girls' enrolment and retention in Northern NigeriaMali: Using serum antibody detection to assess impact of school WASH improvements on child infection diseasesChina: What could cognitive capital mean for China's children?Multi-Country: Making the connection - Intimate partner violence and violence against children in Eastern Europe and Central AsiaThailand: Review of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in ThailandEthiopia: Generation El Niño: Long term Impacts on Children’s Well-being UNICEF staff can read all 12 finalist’s reports on our Teamsite.For those outside of UNICEF, the Best of UNICEF Research Report will be available online and in print by the end of the year. In the meantime, you can explore previous Best of UNICEF Research publications.Thank you to our external panel for their time and comments. The panel as composed by Nicholas Alipui (Senior Visiting Scholar at Yale University Mac Millan Center for International and Area Studies and former Director of Programmes for UNICEF), Virginia Morrow (former Senior Research Officer/Associate Professor in ODID and Deputy Director of Young Lives), Aravinda Meera Guntupalli (Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the Open University), and Eliya Zulu (Executive Director of the African Institute for Development Policy).
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Knowledge for Children in Africa: 2018 Publications Catalogue Published

(4 July 2018) Each year, UNICEF and its partners in Africa generate a wealth of evidence about the situation of children. The 2018 edition of the Knowledge for Children in Africa Publications Catalogue represents the collective knowledge produced by UNICEF Country and Regional Offices across Africa. Knowledge and evidence are essential to informing the development, monitoring and implementation of policies and programmes for the realization of children’s rights.In Africa, the current demographic revolution will see the under-18 population increase by two thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by 2050. These figures underscore an urgent need for strong evidence to inform the implementation of social policies and budgets for children.The catalogue features over 130 of the most important reports and studies that UNICEF and its partners have generated on the situation of children and young people across the continent. Covering a wide range of topics - including Child Poverty; Education and Early Childhood Development; and Social Protection among others - the publication captures some of the most advanced work to support efforts by children and young people to realize their rights to survival, development and protection.The under-18 population in Africa will reach almost 1 billion by 2050.UNICEF Innocenti has contributed extensively to evidence generation efforts in Africa. Within the Child Poverty topic alone, seven reports adopt Innocenti’s MODA tool for measuring multi-dimensional child poverty. A vaccinator records the number of children who have been immunized against polio by a vaccination team in Juba, South Sudan. Commenting on this, Social and Economic Policy expert Lucia Ferrone, notes an increase in efforts to track and measure child poverty in more African countries over recent years. “It’s great to see so many countries not only join the measurement, but also embrace UNICEF’s measure of child multidimensional poverty,” says Ferrone. “MODA was the first measure used to assess child poverty in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, revealing that as many as 67% of children were multidimensionally poor. Now, countries are using MODA to adapt their national needs and priorities.”"It’s tremendous to see countries like Mali proceed on the second round of child poverty measurement since 2014."Many studies in the catalogue explore the area of Education and Early Childhood Development. Despite considerable progress towards the goal of universal primary education, "high school drop-out rates, low levels of school readiness, poor learning outcomes, and high levels of teacher absenteeism continue to plague many African states," notes education expert Despina Karamperidou. "Generating high quality evidence on the magnitude and underlying causes of negative education outcomes is the first crucial step in addressing them through the development of education policies and programs that are both context specific and culturally sensitive.""Generating high quality evidence is the first crucial step in addressing negative outcomes"UNICEF contributes to this effort by investing in three types of research projects, outlined in detail in the catalogue: (1) tools development for the measurement of education outcomes, (2) quantitative mapping and assessment exercises, and (3) qualitative causal analyses. Karamperidou comments that "collectively, these studies provide an evidence base on the major education challenges besetting the continent and a real opportunity for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of African education systems."The catalogue aims to more effectively disseminate knowledge and evidence being generated in Africa for key African constituencies working on children’s rights and development, and promote improved south-south learning exchange among countries. This third edition of the catalogue adds to the fast-growing evidence base on the situation of children in Africa.  Download the full catalogue.
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Closing the Gaps in Child Well-Being

(25 June 2018) A new Mega-Map highlights gaps in evidence and aims to inspire a broader conversation around child well-being, helping to achieve UNICEF’s latest Strategic Plan. Responding to the need for a more evidence-informed approach, a new Mega-Map encourages the generation and use of rigorous evidence on effective ways to improve child well-being for policy and programming.
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New Technologies: Rich Source of Data or Ethical Minefield for Researchers?

(21 June 2018) We sat down with Gabrielle Berman, our expert on research ethics, to chat about her two new discussion papers which explore the ethics of using new technologies to generate evidence about children. The papers, written collaboratively with UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, highlight the advantages and risks of using these technologies to gather data about children. They also provide useful guidance for researchers – especially those unfamiliar with technology – on the questions they should be asking in order to protect children’s rights.Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka (second left) teaches her friends how to use a computer tablet provided by UNICEF, at a school in Baigai, northern Cameroon. What inspired you to produce these two discussion papers?During staff trainings, we kept getting requests from staff who wanted technical advice around technology and the use of technologies for data collection and evidence generation. Most didn’t know where to start or what to consider when thinking about using these technologies. This was the initial foray into an incredibly complex and important area for UNICEF around using technology for evidence generation.Why focus on social media and geospatial technology specifically?We started with social media and geospatial technology because these were the two that were the most prevalent in the organisation at the time, and there was the most demand for guidance. We should now also be considering the ethical implications of technologies like biometrics, blockchain and wearable technology. We have already started receiving requests from staff for technical advice around the ethical implications of these new technologies.The papers were written in collaboration with the Office of Innovation. What were the benefits of the process?Without this collaboration, the papers wouldn’t have the same status. The dialogue and relationships that were established through the collaboration of the two offices are just as important as the papers themselves. Working together also meant that we could establish an advisory group which spanned everything from ICT for Development, to communications, to data and analytics.  In this way, people with all sorts of expertise across the organization could input into the papers.What are some of the most common misconceptions about the use of these technologies for evidence generation?It depends on what side of the fence you’re on. From my perspective, one of the biggest misconceptions is that technology is unequivocally good, meaning these technologies could be used without appropriate reflection on the implications and potential impacts. However, for those on the technology side, one of the biggest issues is that technology won’t be used for fear of the complexity of the ethical implications. The benefit of collaborating with the Innovation office was that we had two different perspectives, but both are equally valid. Through dialogue, we acknowledged the benefits as much as the risks and agreed that what was required was reflective practice. It’s not an absolute yes or a no, but rather an “if” and “how can we do this?” and what strategies do we need to consider?Adolescent girls look at social media posts while attending a "Lifeskills" event in Union Development & Culture Community Centre in Djibouti. What is the biggest challenge with regards ensuring ethical compliance when using these technologies?The biggest challenge is understanding the implications of the technology when you’re not a native technocrat. It’s incredibly difficult for staff in the field to understand the type of questions they should be asking. They also have to receive responses in simple English in order for them to start thinking through the ethical issues and the potential mitigation strategies. Part of the challenge is to change thinking and empower those who aren’t tech natives to feel comfortable enough to ask questions and interrogate the potential implications of the technology. We must avoid abdication of responsibility to tech experts and remind staff that they are in fact the experts on potential implications for children. To be a child advocate it’s incredibly important to ask the right questions, to understand and to take responsibility for the technology and its implications. "We must avoid abdication of responsibility to tech experts and remind staff that they are in fact the experts on potential implications for children."How can we empower people to feel like they can ask the right questions?Firstly, we need to provide them with guidance. But importantly, we need to get stakeholders around the same table - including the social media companies, the data scientists, and the communities we work with. We should bring these people with different perspectives together, acknowledging everyone’s expertise, and engaging in dialogue on what the potential ethical issues are and how they can be mitigated. This joint risk assessment is a key way to start a constructive dialogue on the issues and potential mitigation strategies. How can we mitigate the threat of data and algorithms informing policy, without appropriate engagement and dialogue?Firstly, it’s important to appreciate the implications of the data sets on which algorithms are based and to be aware that the algorithms may have built-in biases. For example, certain populations are more likely to be monitored and so data on arrests are more likely to be higher for this group. Following from this, we need to understand that certain populations may be excluded from the data sets. Algorithms are based on training data, so unless all communities are included in the data, the outcomes and predictions are not going to be representative of these communities. For example, when data is gathered via smartphones, those who don’t have a smartphone are excluded.Thirdly, we must recognize that modelling looks at trends only and does not consider individuals. Algorithms may see these trends as a whole but, like any type of quantitative data, it will miss the qualitative nuances underpinning these findings. While it may be very easy to adopt big data sets and use them to determine policies, we must not forget that there are very real risks in making decisions based on quantitative trends alone. The Convention on the Rights of the Child very clearly says that a child has the right to have a voice on matters that affect them. If we start basing policy exclusively on quantitative data, we are not giving voice to the nuances that may explain the data or the nuances of the individual who may differ from the broader findings. It’s very important that we acknowledge the value of big data, but we must also acknowledge that individuals still need to have a voice. Listening to children’s voices should never be replaced by a purely quantitative approach, so while data is a very valuable tool, it is only one tool."We must not forget that there are very real risks in making decisions based on quantitative trends alone."Are there any other ethical risks that stem from using this type of data?With social media data in particular, if you run algorithms against the data you may start using it for purposes other than those originally intended when people submitted this data. The moment you start taking data out of context, it may lose its contextual integrity in which case we have to ask whether it is still relevant. This idea of contextual integrity needs to be interrogated. Adolescent girls use cellphones and tablets in a solar kiosk providing internet connectivity in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan. Does ensuring ethical compliance also provide an opportunity to educate people on technology and online privacy?I don’t see it as an opportunity but rather an obligation stemming from our use of these technologies. If you’re using third party data in a public way, it must also be announced publicly, in the spirit of full disclosure. We must recognise the importance of transparency in the work we do, particularly when it may be difficult if not impossible to secure informed consent. With social media projects, where you’re actively using the platform to engage young people, it’s incredibly important that you actually provide information around privacy. You cannot guarantee that children have child-friendly explanations, and so it’s our responsibility to educate and to be clear about the risks involved. Are there any additional potential risks specifically associated with geospatial technology?Geospatial technology has been invaluable in both development and humanitarian contexts, but we need to think about where we source the data, how useful it is, whether it’s a two-way dialogue, and if can we respond to any requests for help in humanitarian contexts. We particularly need to be concerned with the potential risks involved and the security of this data in humanitarian contexts. In these situations, we’re often dealing with vulnerable populations. Because of this, we must be very careful to ensure that this data is limited to those who absolutely need to access the data, particularly any raw and individual data, with specific consideration for the safety of the populations that may be captured by the technology. For this reason, we really need to think about the interoperability of geospatial data systems: which partners are we working with? who in these organisations has access to the data? why do they have access? do we have sufficient security measures? These types of reflections are necessary to fulfil our obligations to protect the communities that we work with.You can download the paper on ethical considerations when using geospatial technology and social media now.
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