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How are sport for development organizations keeping children healthy during COVID-19?
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How are sport for development organizations keeping children healthy during COVID-19?

This blog explores how Sport for Development (S4D) organisations have responded and adapted their programming to support children during the COVID-19 crisis. S4D organisations use sport as a tool to catalyse positive change in the lives of children, youth and the communities they live in. Interviews with S4D organizations, conducted as part of the ongoing research commissioned by the Barça Foundation and UNICEF partnership, revealed that organizations are innovating to adapt to the current crisis through three key interconnected practices: Continuing to support children through remote sessions, with coaches providing guidance for physical activity along with content to accomplish a variety of social goals.Providing critical and accurate health and COVID-19 information through coaches, who are in many cases trusted individuals in communities.Supporting their staff in helping other programmes, such as feeding programmes, while sports activities are closed.What is Sport for Development?Sport and physical activity are fun, effective and engaging means to improve many areas of children’s wellbeing including physical and mental health, empowerment, learning and life skills that are essential for success in school, life and work. For instance, one review found positive associations between physical activity and academic performance in 79% of the studies it assessed. The Kazan Action plan highlights the role sport can play in improving children’s lives, and outlines the commitment of multiple governments to make sport part of the solution to achieving the SDGs. S4D organisations come in various forms – from those that build social programmes around sport, to those that include sport as one of many approaches to achieving their goals. Approximately 1 in every 500 children worldwide takes part in a S4D initiative and almost every country hosts some S4D programmes (see map). How are organisations responding?S4D organizations create safe spaces where children can feel protected from violent and difficult contexts and where they are free to express themselves, away from social norms and expectations that communities can have for boys and girls. These activities take place in schools, community centres, and outdoor spaces. Social distancing measures have meant that organizations have had to stop their regular programming taking away these safe physical spaces and adapt both delivery modalities and content to respond to the crisis. Continuing to support children through remote sessionsMany S4D organizations are going remote through online, but also through broadcast media. The Barça Foundation, in Spain, has adapted its sessions for marginalised youth to take place online: coaches lead children through physical exercises remotely replacing their usual football match (See Figure 2), and moderate group discussions, before and after the exercise on life skills and values. This provides socio-emotional support through play and continues healthy routines which can be critical for mental health during uncertain times. The Barça Foundation is working on alternative ways to deliver these sessions so they are available to participants without access to internet, acknowledging that access to technology is not a given for many children around the world as explored in a recent research brief on remote learning. [caption id="attachment_2569" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Figure 2[/caption] COVID Focus: Providing critical and accurate health and COVID-19 informationAs part of their response, many S4D organisations, are adapting their content and developing innovative ways to help spread the word about good practices during COVID-19. Grassroot Soccer (GRS), who uses football as part of a curriculum on sexual and reproductive health, has developed an open-source COVID-19 curriculum that debunks myths around COVID-19 and promotes healthy behaviors. Sessions of this curriculum can be adapted to be implemented in person, respecting social distancing, or remotely and include physical activity (e.g. stretch, dance, game) components in place of the usual football (See Figure 3). This curriculum has been released withtips for coaches facilitators and caregivers, translated into 4 languages and is being used by several organisations in Africa. Various other open-source activities and curricula can be found here. [caption id="attachment_2570" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Figure 3[/caption] Organizations are also turning themselves into reference points for health information by sharing correct and updated health advice with communities. For example, TackleAfrica has been sending health content to its coaches in 12 countries via text message. CoolPlay and YouthWave are using WhatsApp and radio to stay in touch with programme participants, provide psychosocial support and healthy behavior tips. As trusted members of many marginalized communities, coaches and S4D organizations can have a critical role in providing health updates and fighting misinformation. Supporting their staff in helping other programmesOrganisations have been helping in other ways, CoolPlay gave their staff’s time to support feeding programmes and the Barça Foundation provided in kind support to the families of the beneficiaries. Laureus Sport’s Informal Sharing Community meetings. This fits with the actions that sport organisations more broadly have taken. Football clubs in Europe have launched support drives to help others in need in the community, offered places for medical staff to stay, donated money to health services, and started helplines. In Spain, FC Barcelona has ceded the title rights to Camp Nou for the 2020-2021 season to the Barça Foundation to raise money for research in the fight against  COVID-19. As shown in the Getting into the Game report, sports can have an outsized impact on a child’s wellbeing, from children’s health, to life skills like leadership and teamwork, to learning outcomes. S4D organizations are working hard to adapt to the current reality, and are making important contributions to the communities they operate in. Post COVID-19, the global community should make sure that the commitment made to using sport to improve the lives of children, remains integrated into plans to build healthier, safer, and more inclusive societies.   Are you part of an S4D organization? How has COVID-19 affected you and how have you responded? Please email us at cpasquini@unicef.org and tell us more about it.
How prepared are global education systems for future crises?
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How prepared are global education systems for future crises?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an education emergency of unprecedented global scale. At its peak, over 190 countries closed schools in response to the health emergency, leaving 9 out of 10 enrolled learners around the world out of school. Although previous health emergencies – such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 – have caused short- and long-term school closures in several countries, the COVID-19 crisis has caught most of the world’s education systems unprepared. As a result, countries have been scrambling to implement immediate, wide-scale distance learning for the first time.  In this blog, we explore lessons from current and past school closures and call for investment to improve the resiliency of national education systems to respond to future disruptions and crises.    The effects of school closures on children Whether closing schools is an effective policy for limiting the spread of infectious diseases largely depends on the epidemiology of the disease as well as demographic, geographic and social factors, as well as the presence of other community mitigation efforts. In terms of educational outcomes, disruptions in schooling can lead to significant losses in learning and to increases in grade repetition and school dropouts.  In the United States, even short, unexpected school closures due to bad winter weather have shown to negatively affect primary-school children’s learning outcomes. Research shows that during longer term disruptions, like those following Hurricane Katrina, primary and secondary students’ learning can take upwards of two years to recover to pre-disruption levels. Beyond the negative consequences on learning, school closures expose students to additional risks. Hundreds of millions of children rely on schools for free or low-price meals, and a safe space. When schools close, many children face an increased risk of malnutrition. Despite an estimated 370 million children missing out on school meals, according to a recent survey of 129 UNICEF programme countries, only 41 per cent of countries reported that interventions in the area of nutrition and school feeding were part of their national response to COVID-19 as of May 1st. Many of the children who benefit from school meal programmes could already be nutrient deficient, vulnerable or at risk. In addition, studies show that girls’ exposure to risks of sexual violence increased dramatically when schools were closed during the Ebola crisis. Sierra Leone saw a 65 per cent increase in adolescent pregnancies – a vector for early marriage as well as school dropouts – in some areas. Moreover, once schools re-opened, girls’ enrolment decreased by 16 per cent. Some students who needed to help their families with household work or generate income fell behind in school or simply never returned.   Distance learning has an opportunity to shine Despite challenges and setbacks, learning can and does continue in times of crisis. Technology offers a wide variety of methods to support distance education. Which kinds of technology are most appropriate vary due to differing access among populations – particularly vulnerable groups – in a country or region. This decision tree outlines an avenue for considering which combinations of interventions may be needed, from paper-based approaches to online classrooms.  The same recent survey of UNICEF programme countries found that 93 per cent are incorporating distance learning in their national responses to the COVID-19 emergency. As depicted in Figure 1 below, TV education programming and government-supported online platforms are the most common methods employed, but most countries draw upon a combination of several methods to reach children However, 30 per cent of these programme countries reported that distance learning is not reaching vulnerable and marginalized children. Drawing on MICS6 data on access to Internet and broadcast media, two recent UNICEF blogs highlighted that relying on the internet alone will not ensure inclusive, equitable education. They found that television and radio broadcasts have the potential to reach a majority of the world’s children, especially the most vulnerable, but paper-based approaches remain a necessary alternative in some settings.     During the Ebola crisis, the government of Sierra Leone, with support from UNICEF and other partners, created the Emergency Radio Education Programme (EREP) to continue learning during the school closures. To reach vulnerable children, the government delivered 50,000 solar-powered radios to the poorest households across the country with USB ports for content provision in areas lacking radio signal coverage. The use of an existing supply chain designed for the distribution of voting materials proved effective for delivering the radios and supporting educational materials to households.  EREP household surveys showed that weekly listenership ranged from 40 to 80 per cent and was lowest during weeks that were normally school holidays. Families that did not engage with the radio content often cited that since the content was not examinable, it was of no value. This challenge – that governments cannot make distance education mandatory and examinable because it may discriminate against those who lack proper access – lingers during the current COVID-19 crisis.    Future preparedness and resilience The education sector has rebuilt after natural disasters and delivered education during conflicts or in refugee settings; it is also increasingly adapting to climate change. However, COVID-19 is a global health emergency of unprecedented scale, presenting unique challenges that many countries were unprepared to address. While forms of distance education are now being delivered, only 30 per cent or fewer of countries report that they are monitoring take-up of distance education or whether children are learning. As the world will likely face more health crises in the future, we must prioritise strengthening the resilience of education systems to mitigate the harm to children’s learning. Countries must build capacity to deliver quality education remotely, targeting vulnerable and marginalized children who are often forgotten. Once the current crisis subsides, countries must continue to scale up distance learning and incorporate aspects into everyday schooling for all children and youth.  Building on lessons learned from these school closures, they must create comprehensive preparedness plans and develop strong national infrastructure to deliver education through different modalities and monitor its reach and contribution to learning. Vigilance is essential to prevent children's learning from falling through the cracks during this present crisis as well as future ones.  
Hygiene and cleaning kits
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How a displacement crisis helped Jordan support its population during COVID-19

At the beginning of 2020, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan entered the tenth year of a humanitarian crisis, providing refuge to over 650,000 Syrian refugees. But in the spring, another crisis hit which threatened not only the fragile livelihoods of these refugees, but the wellbeing of every person in Jordan—COVID-19. Jordan has implemented a strict nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis. While the restrictive containment measures have controlled the pandemic, they put those who depend on daily jobs at risk of falling into deep poverty. To prevent this, the Government of Jordan decided to provide emergency cash to 200,000 Jordanian daily wage workers who have lost their income as part of its COVID-19 response. Read how the Hajati cash transfer programme in Jordan was quickly expanded to support Syrian refugees during COVID-19This response was not business as usual. Although the Government of Jordan and partners (like UNICEF) have provided cash to vulnerable people for years, these have not included “near poverty” informal workers. Furthermore, isolation policies and a strict curfew meant regular procedures for enrolling workers and paying cash transfers could not be used. With the experience and lessons learned from the Syria crisis, UNICEF worked with the Government of Jordan to develop alternative strategies to reach those most vulnerable. UNICEF as a trusted partner on social protectionUNICEF is a well-established social protection partner in Jordan. In 2019, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Social Development in designing its National Social Protection Strategy.  With other agencies, including the World Bank and the World Food Programme, UNICEF implemented a technical working group to support the strengthening and expansion of the National Aid Fund (NAF). Prior research, such as the National Geographic Vulnerability Analysis and forthcoming research by UNICEF Innocenti on the role of cash transfers in the lives of vulnerable families, helped UNICEF Jordan establish itself as a thought leader on social protection in the country. Information systems had been developed by UNICEF to provide the NAF with the needed data for planning, design, implementation and monitoring of programmes. Routine immunization and newborn screening has resumed for children in Jordan following a temporary pause as part of COVID-19 prevention measures.Reaching out remotelyThrough its Hajati cash transfer programme for vulnerable households, including Syrian refugees, UNICEF Jordan has built up extensive experience with RapidPro. Developed by UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, RapidPro can be used for two-way SMS and digital communication (e.g. WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger) to raise awareness, collect data, and monitor programme implementation. It is effective also in contexts with good cell-phone coverage, but limited use of smart phones. Forthcoming research by UNICEF Innocenti finds that communication through RapidPro is highly trusted in Jordan and recipients appreciate the opportunity to communicate directly with UNICEF. RapidPro proved to be essential to Jordan’s COVID-19 response. Using RapidPro , 200,000 new recipients of the emergency cash were reached quickly, remotely, and safely at no cost to recipients. RapidPro text messages confirmed the identification of the targeted recipients and determined whether they had an active mobile wallet. If needed, UNICEF provided instructions on how to open new mobile wallet without physically visiting a service provider. Through a constant exchange of data with the Central Bank of Jordan and mobile money companies, UNICEF monitored the rate at which mobile wallets were opened. RapidPro also enabled UNICEF and NAF to troubleshoot arising issues. Flowchart illustrating the ID verification process conducted through SMS messages for the Hajati cash transfer programme.The remote approach workedThe results exceeded expectations. Out of the first batch of 100,000 daily workers, only 18,000 had an active mobile wallet. Five days after being contacted through RapidPro, this figure had grown to over 80,000. Although the second batch are still being contacted, fourteen days after starting the process, 188,000 workers had active mobile wallets and had already received the much-needed cash. NAF and UNICEF continue their efforts to reach the remaining 12,000 daily workers by coordinating with mobile money service providers and calling households. Although certain challenges were anticipated (such as phone coverage, literacy, and cost), these proved to be comparatively minor hurdles in this context. Humanitarian and development work do not operate in silos Jordan’s COVID-19 emergency cash response exemplifies how humanitarian and development work can reinforce and support each other. For the most efficient and timely emergency response, it is key to have flexible systems in place, such as RapidPro. Systems developed to respond to humanitarian crises and lessons learned from humanitarian responses can help build shock-responsive national social protection systems.   Mays Albaddawi and Alexis Boncenne are Programme Officers in UNICEF Jordan’s Social Protection section. Jacobus de Hoop is manager of humanitarian policy research at UNICEF Innocenti. Angie Lee is a Communications Specialist with UNICEF Innocenti. Luisa Natali is a Social Policy Specialist at the UNICEF Innocenti. Matthew McNaughton is Global Technology For Development Specialist in UNICEF's Information Communication and Technology Division. Manuel Rodriguez Pumarol is Chief of UNICEF Jordan’s Social Protection section. Discover our work on Social Protection in Humanitarian Settings. 
Can we count on parents to help their children learn at home?
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Can we count on parents to help their children learn at home?

This blog is the third of a series targeted toward exploring the impact of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on the learning environment at home, the potential parental role for continued learning and their association with reading skills.53 per cent of children in low- and middle- income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school-age. In low-income countries, the learning crisis is even more acute, with the learning poverty rate reaching 90 per cent (World Bank). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 191 countries have implemented country-wide school closures, affecting 1.6 billion learners worldwide (UNESCO). With children currently not able to study in classrooms, the importance of learning at home is amplified and the task of supporting children’s learning has fallen on parents at a much larger rate, a significant burden particularly for those balancing teleworking and those with limited schooling themselves. This blog shows the disparities across and within countries in children’s reading skills and looks at the associations between parental engagement and learning, using the data from the MICS 6 new modules on foundational learning skills (used for monitoring the SDG 4.1.1 indicator, at grades 2-3 level, see here for more details on foundational skills measurement) and on parental engagement. Access the full Innocenti Research Brief: Parental engagement in children's remote learningFoundational reading skills and disparitiesMany countries lag behind achieving minimum proficiency in reading. For children aged 7-14, the acquisition of minimum reading skills varies both across and within countries (see Figure 1). And even in middle-income countries like Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia or Tunisia, only around 60 per cent of children acquire foundational reading skills. Among the ten countries with MICS 6 data analyzed, Sierra Leone and Madagascar are the two countries with the lowest achievements. All countries, except Mongolia, show large disparities against the poorest. In Sierra Leone only 2 per cent of children from the poorest quintile reach the foundational reading skills. Even if more limited, gender differences also exist, to the detriment of boys, with the exception of Sierra Leone where the trend is reversed (15 per cent of girls achieve foundational reading skills, compared to 17 per cent for boys). The gender gap is the largest in Lesotho where 53 per cent of girls achieve the foundational reading skills, compared to only 34 per cent of boys. Home Learning Environment and Parental Engagement and association with reading skills Child-oriented Books availability A previous UNICEF blog showed disparities in the child-oriented books availability and use across countries and within countries, at the detriment of children from the poorest families. During school closures, those children are at very high risk of not getting a chance to learn at home if there are no books for them. In all countries, the share of children acquiring reading skills is higher in households where there is at least one book (see Figure 2). In Bangladesh, for instance, 70 per cent of children in households with at least one child-oriented book are able to read while it is the case for only 48 per cent of those living in a household without any child-oriented book. Parental engagement for reading books to children and for supporting schoolwork Together with learning materials at home, reading to children and supporting them for schoolwork are a potential way to improve child reading skills. Having someone reading books is particularly important for children in households from the poorest quintile. For example, Figure 3 shows the differences in reading skills between children with reading support and those without in Pakistan (Punjab). Such differences are greater for children living in poorest households. Among families in the poorest quintile, 29 per cent of children with someone reading books to them achieve foundational reading skills, compared to only 15 per cent of children to whom nobody books. For children in wealthier families, differences are less marked. On a related note, the lack of education of mothers/caregivers also impedes the support they are able to provide to their children’s learning, with the risk to perpetuate an inter-generational learning poverty cycle. In all countries with data, less-educated caregivers/mothers are less likely to help children with their schoolwork at home. Consistently, the share of children acquiring foundational skills (both in reading and numeracy) is much larger in households where the mother/caregiver has at least completed primary education than in households with a mother/caregiver who has not gone to school or dropped-out before the end of primary education (see Figure 4). In addition to the health and economic impacts, COVID-19 is depriving many children from learning opportunities at school. Availability of child-oriented books at home and engagement of parents can play an important role for continued learning at home, especially where there is no access to technology. And all policy decisions and implementation should also be cognizant of the need to ensure parents’ capability to help their child learn to prevent exacerbating further global learning inequities to the detriment of the most vulnerable. Akito Kamei is an education research consultant at UNICEF Innocenti, Matt Brossard is Chief of education research at UNICEF Innocenti; Manuel Cardoso is an education specialist with UNICEF's programme division; Sakshi Mishra is a consultant with UNICEF 's Data and Analytics team; and Suguru Mizunoya is Senior Advisor in statistics and monitoring with UNICEF's Data and Analytics team and Nicolas Reuge is Senior Education Advisor in UNICEF's programme division.   
Lessons from COVID-19: Getting remote learning right 
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Lessons from COVID-19: Getting remote learning right 

This blogpost summarizes recommendations for policy makers and explores 3 good practices for equitable remote learning, based on recent research conducted using data on education responses to COVID-19 from UNICEF staff in 127 countries.To help contain the spread COVID-19, schools have closed around the world, at its peak putting  approximately 1.6 billion or 91% of the world’s enrolled students out of school (UNESCO). Governments and education stakeholders have responded swiftly implementing remote learning, using various delivery channels, including digital tools, TV/radio-based teaching, and take-home packages. The massive scale of school closures has laid bare the uneven distribution of technology to facilitate remote learning and the lack of preparedness of systems to support teachers, and caregivers in the successful and safe use of technology for learning. Key recommendations to education policy makers for COVID-19 and beyond:Education systems need a ‘Plan B’ for safe and effective learning delivery when schools are closed. Producing accessible digital and media resources based on the curriculum will not only allow a quicker response, but their use in ordinary times can enrich learning opportunities for children in and out of school.Infrastructure investment in remote and rural areas to reach marginalized children should be a priority. Initiatives like Generation Unlimited and GIGA, can democratize access to technology and connectivity, increasing options for remote learning delivery and speeding up response during school closures.Teacher training should change to include management of remote ‘virtual’ classrooms, improving presentation techniques, tailoring follow-up sessions with caregivers and effective blending of technology into lessons.Further applied research for learning and sharing what works is more important than ever. Increased focus on implementation research is needed to develop practical ways to improve teacher training, content production, parental engagement, and to leverage the use of technologies at scale.Practices for more equitable remote learningGiven the digital divide use multiple delivery channelsLarge inequities exist in access to internet around the world as illustrated by figure 1 below.  Governments are increasing access to digital content for children where possible, by negotiating to not charge data costs for education content (Rwanda, South Africa, Jordan). Even with initiatives to increase access in the short-term, digital channels are not enough to reach all children, especially the most disadvantaged as explored in Remote Learning Amid a Pandemic: Insights from MICS6.   To expand their reach, 68% countries are utilizing some combination of digital and non-digital (TV, Radio, and take-home packages) in their education responses. TV is being used by 75% of countries, including making TV lessons accessible for children with hearing impairments with sign language (Morocco, Uzbekistan).  Radio is also a widely used tool, 58% of countries report using it to deliver audio content. However, digital, tv and radio delivery channels all require electricity.  Simple (unweighted) average of the 28 countries with data by income level, shows that only 65% of households from the poorest quintile have electricity, compared to 98% of households from the wealthiest quintile. In seven countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Lesotho, Kiribati, Sudan, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania) less than 10% of the poorest households have electricity. To address this challenge, 49% of countries are also using “take home” packages for learners. In Jordan, refugee children are receiving learning packages and in Jamaica learn and play kits are delivered to children in quarantined zones.  Parental engagement is critically important for learning and should not be overlooked as explored in the recent research brief on parental Engagement in Children’s Learning – Insights for remote learning response during COVID-19 Figure 3. Below shows the wide disparity in Radio ownership across 88 countries, while figure 4 illustrates the urban rural gap in TV ownership within countries. Strengthen support to the teachers, facilitators and parents delivering remote learningAccess to content is only the first step in remote learning. Countries are supporting caregivers who have been thrust into teaching at home, with tutoring materials, webinars/helplines to answer their questions (North Macedonia, Uruguay). Countries are engaging with caregivers, to not only support learning but to, provide psychosocial support to children (Bhutan, Cameroon, Ecuador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Oman, India), provide tips for children’s online safety (North Macedonia, Serbia) and engage with families to allow girls to continue learning remotely rather than increasing their household duties (Ghana). Gather feedback and strengthen monitoring of reach and qualityCountries have engaged in a variety of measures to collect feedback, and to understand the usage and effectiveness of different delivery channels. Monitoring of reach and quality for remote learning remains a challenge for many countries.  While there is great need to understand how COVID-19 has impacted children, education actors must take care to ensure that any data collection exercise from children follows ethical considerations and, first and foremost does no harm (Berman, 2020). Several countries are using simple tools (SMS in Tanzania, Chatbots in Mongolia) to gather feedback from parents to improve remote learning.  Serbia, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have incorporated assessment tools within digital platforms. Thomas Dreesen  is an Education Manager at UNICEF’s Office of Research (OoR), Mathieu Brossard is the Chief of Education at UNICEF OoR- Innocenti. Spogmai Akseer, Akito Kamei and Javier Santiago Ortiz are education research consultants at UNICEF OoR- Innocenti, Pragya Dewan is a consultant in the education section of UNICEF’s programme division, Juan-Pablo Giraldo is an education specialist in UNICEF’s Programme division, and Suguru Mizunoya is a Senior Advisor in statistics and monitoring with UNICEF’s Data and Analytics team.
Why Child Labour Cannot be Forgotten During COVID-19
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Why Child Labour Cannot be Forgotten During COVID-19

In just a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has already had drastic consequences for children. Their access to education, food, and health services has been dramatically affected across the globe. The impact has been so marked, that the UN Secretary General has urged governments and donors to offset the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis on children. In discussions of the pandemic to date, child labour (i.e. forms of work that are harmful to children) has played only a marginal role. Yet, as we describe in this blog, child labour will be an important coping mechanism for poor households experiencing COVID-related shocks. As global poverty rises, so too will the prevalence of child labour. Increased parental mortality due to COVID-19 will force children into child labour, including the worst forms such as work that harms the health and safety of children. Temporary school closures may have permanent implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. Limited budgets and reductions in services for families and children will compound the effects of the health, economic, and social crisis. We expect millions of children to become child labourers due to a rise in global poverty alone.Even in the highly improbable scenario of a short-lived economic crisis, the consequences of this increase in child labour can last generations. We know that children who enter child labour are unlikely to stop working if their economic situation improves. Instead, they will continue to experience the implications of child labour—like less education overall and worse employment opportunities—when they are adults and start families of their own. We also know that the younger children are when they start working, the more likely they will experience chronic health issues as adults. Moreover, we have ample evidence that stress and trauma in adolescence lead to a lifetime of mental health challenges. How parental health affects child labourWithout plausible forecasts on the extent of morbidity and mortality globally, it is impossible to gauge the rise in child labour as a direct result of the health consequences of COVID-19. However, we do know that as parents and caregivers in poor countries fall sick or die, children will take over part of their roles, including domestic work and earning responsibilities, as seen previously in Mali, Mexico, and Tanzania. When desperation sets in, children can be especially vulnerable. One study from Nepal found that paternal disability or death was among the strongest observable predictors of engagement in the worst forms of child labour. Curbing the consequences of school closuresThere is ample reason to be concerned that the temporary disruption of schooling will have permanent effects especially for the poorest. Normally, when children stop going to school and start earning an independent income, it is extremely difficult to get them to go back to school. A study of teacher strikes in Argentina, for instance, found that even temporary school closures can result in permanently lower schooling and reduced labour earnings into adulthood as children who leave school early enter low-skill occupations. However, it may be possible to curb the consequences of school closure. The global shutdown may limit the ability of children to start earning while they are out of school, potentially mitigating the chance that children will not go back to school. Moreover, the re-opening of schools can cause excitement for both students and their parents. Such excitement was widely reported in the aftermath of school closures due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. A World Vision report from 2015 quoted an 11 year-old in Sierra Leone: “When school finally reopened on April 14, it was the best day of my life.” Indeed, in Sierra Leone children had largely returned to class by the end of the Ebola epidemic. Ibrahim (13) is a seasonal agricultural child worker from Sanliurfa, Turkey.As extreme poverty increases, so too will child labourThe economic downturn brought on by COVID is widely expected to lead to an increase in global poverty. One World Bank model forecasts a rise of 40 to 60 million people living in extreme poverty this year alone. A UNU-WIDER study estimates that a 5 percent contraction in per capita incomes will lead to an additional 80 million people living in extreme poverty. Child laborers are a large share of the global population living in extreme poverty. We expect millions of additional children to be pushed into child labour as a result of an increase in extreme poverty alone. Social protection is crucial to address child labourSocial protection programmes directly addressing poverty are critical to offset the worst impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on child labour. At the time of writing, 133 countries were actively working on social protection responses, including non-contributory cash transfers. Generally, social protection programmes help lower child labour outside the household and help households offset economic shocks. In Colombia, cash transfers helped offset increases in child labour due to absence of the father. In Zambia, cash transfers helped households cushion the effect of weather shocks. It seems inevitable that, in the medium term, most countries will experience serious fiscal crises. These crises will likely be especially severe in poor countries with a revenue basis depending disproportionately on international trade, foreign direct investment or foreign aid. We expect fiscal crises to further affect child labour through declining social protection. Likewise, funding for other publicly provided goods—like health, education, and active labour market policies, and enforcement of labour market regulations—is likely to decline post-COVID-19. Each of these could have implications for child labour. Reductions in school fees, for example, have played a role in encouraging schooling, and there is evidence from India that the impact of negative economic shocks on child labour was muted in areas where schooling was more affordable. We also have evidence from Mexico and Senegal that child labour declines when school quality improves. If school fees increase or school quality deteriorates post-COVID-19, a further increase in child labour seems likely. Moving forwardAffordable, gender-sensitive policy responses should be designed to help keep children in school and reduce reliance on child labour. Policy responses that risk exacerbating the looming increase in child labour, such as public works programmes, should be considered carefully. Particular attention should be paid to the period shortly after lockdowns when schools reopen. This will be a critical window to prevent children entering paid work and community-level action is needed to ensure that every child returns to school. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who lose a parent deserve special consideration and support.   Jacobus de Hoop is manager of humanitarian policy research at UNICEF Innocenti. Eric Edmonds is Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College. His research aims to improve policy directed at child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking.   Discover our work on Child Labour and Social Protection.
Can broadcast media foster equitable learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
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Can broadcast media foster equitable learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

This post is the second in a series of articles focused on helping children continue to learn at home during the COVID-19 global pandemic, emphasizing the need for multiple remote learning platforms to meet the needs of all students.   As discussed in the first post in this series on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures around the globe mean that remote learning is now the only option for more than 1.3 billion children across 177 countries. MICS6 data reveal that many of the world’s children do not have internet access at home, particularly among poorer households. In response, UNICEF, governments and partners are actively considering an array of solutions to support the continuity of learning for children and adolescents, and the data indicate that television and radio broadcasts offer an effective way for education systems to reach children with the greatest needs.     Access via the airwaves: Reaching the most children with television and radio [caption id="attachment_2516" align="alignright" width="303"] Figure 1[/caption] As illustrated in Figure 1, broadcast media can be a core component of a data-driven, multi-pronged approach to the alternative delivery of education content and has several advantages in delivering educational content during the COVID-19 crisis. New analysis of MICS6 data shows that television and radio broadcasts have the potential to reach a majority of the world’s children, especially the most vulnerable. [1] According to UNICEF’s COVID-19 education rapid response tracker, 77 per cent of countries include television in their national response to COVID-19 school closures and radio is part of the national response in more than half of the countries tracked. TV and radio lack interactivity, but parents and caregivers can address this shortcoming by engaging with their children to discuss broadcasted educational content, supplemented by printed materials. The importance of effective engagement and support from parents and caregivers was discussed in detail in this recent UNICEF blog post.     Television Our analysis shows that in the countries studied in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, television would reach 80 per cent or more of the school-aged population. In countries like Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyz Republic, Montenegro, and Tunisia, even children in poor households have high rates of access to television making it an equitable way to deliver educational content (Figure 2). However, in the countries analyzed in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, household access to television is neither common nor equitably distributed – television reaches half or fewer school-age children, and gaps in television access are very stark for the poorest children, where 10 per cent or fewer have a television at home.       Radio While its reach is not universally high, radio has an important role to play in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where it can potentially reach more than 50 per cent of school-age children in countries such as The Gambia, Suriname, Sierra Leone and Ghana (Figure 3).     Boosting the benefits of broadcast media through blended delivery The broad reach of television and radio broadcasts makes them a good choice to serve as the backbone of many remote learning programmes, but countries are encouraged to explore how they can enhance their educational offerings with high- and low-tech complements like internet-based instruction and the use of printed learning materials. For example, in April, Peru launched “Aprendo en casa” (I learn at home), which uses radio, TV and web-based platforms to provide instruction in math, Spanish, social sciences, art and physical education at the pre-primary, primary and secondary education levels. UNICEF is coordinating with UNESCO, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and Peru’s Ministry of Education to ensure the programme is equitable and inclusive in reaching indigenous, migrant and disabled children. At the other end of the spectrum, for many of the most marginalized school-age children – i.e., those in very rural settings and/or from very poor households – even radio and TV may be inaccessible, making delivery of printed education materials the only alternative. In March, UNICEF and other partners supported Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education in their launch of educational radio programmes covering the national curriculum. About half of the households in the country have a radio, andhomes in rural areas are more likely to have a radio than a television.[2] The radio broadcasts are complemented by home delivery of printed materials, which are crucial to reaching children without radio access.     MICS6 data drive informed decision-making The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in terms of delivering education services to children. Speed is of the essence – the education sector must move quickly to find solutions, especially for the poorest children. COVID-19 school closures threaten to rob vulnerable children of the opportunity to catch up with their more advantaged peers, further deepening inequalities. Remote learning means the home environment is even more important to a child’s ability to continue learning. Marginalized children are more likely to be in homes with fewer learning resources, have lower access to devices, and their caregivers may lack the time or knowledge needed to support learning and development. In some countries, television and/or radio have the potential to reach almost all children, including the poorest. In others, their reach is limited and uneven. While MICS6 data show there is no one-size-fits-all solution to reach all children, using data to drive decisions regarding the most effective channels will help ensure education is both widely accessible and equitably provided.     [1] The analysis included 19 countries/regions (a total of 20 surveys) conducted between 2017-2019: East Asia and Pacific: Kiribati, Lao PDR, Mongolia; Europe and Central Asia: Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Montenegro, Montenegro (Roma settlements). Eastern and Southern Africa: Lesotho, Madagascar, Zimbabwe. Latin America and the Caribbean: Suriname. Middle East and North Africa: Iraq, Tunisia. South Asia: Bangladesh, Pakistan (Punjab). West and Central Africa: DR Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Togo. [2] Source: DHS 2015.
Remote Learning Amid a Global Pandemic: Insights from MICS6
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Remote Learning Amid a Global Pandemic: Insights from MICS6

  This post is the first in a series of articles focused on helping children continue to learn at home during the COVID-19 global pandemic, emphasizing the need for multiple remote learning platforms to meet the needs of all students.   While some countries are now moving to reopen schools, nearly 1.3 billion children are still out of school and dependent on remote learning, due to nationwide shutdowns. As national educational systems strive to meet this challenge, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data offer some important insights into how we can ensure every child has an equal opportunity to learn remotely.  Among other key insights, the MICS data highlights that many children and youth still do not have internet access at home, and household wealth is the biggest determinant of home internet access.  This underscores the importance of providing different learning tools, at the same time as we accelerate access to the internet for every school and every child, including through UNICEF's GIGA initiative. IT-enabled learning will be a critical part of the remote learning toolbox, including offline options. UNICEF will continue to advocate for innovative solutions to provide connectivity for every school and every student. Meanwhile, governments must also continue to invest in other distance learning technologies, such as the use of television and radio broadcasts, and 'take-home' printed materials, in order to reach all school-age students. This has been summarized in UNICEF's Remote Learning COVID-19 Response Decision Tree.   Providing the world's disadvantaged and marginalized children with equitable access to learning opportunities is foundational to creating a sustainable future and must be a priority for the global education sector.  Many of the world's children do not have internet access at home   There are wide disparities in wealth and corresponding differences in access to digital technology, both between and within countries. Globally, many schools lack the resources to invest in digital learning, and many children from poorer households do not have internet access. MICS6 data show that in countries like Bangladesh, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan (Punjab), Sierra Leone, Togo, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, more than half of children aged between 5-17 who are attending school do not have internet access at home. In Democratic Republic of Congo and Lao PDR, fewer than two per cent of children attending school have internet access at home. Of the 18 countries examined, only Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Montenegro had internet access in more than 70 per cent of households.   Household wealth is the biggest determinant of internet access    Household wealth and internet access are strongly linked. Students from the richest 20 per cent of households are the most likely to be able to continue learning via the internet. In some countries, internet access among the poorest 20 per cent of households is almost non-existent. Countries with low levels of internet access overall also have the highest levels of inequality of internet access between rich and poor. In Madagascar, Togo and Sierra Leone, less than 30 per cent of the population has internet access, and this access is distributed unequally across wealth levels. In all the three countries, the wealthiest 20 per cent of households comprise more than 60 percent of those with internet access. These data illustrate why, in the short term, the internet alone is not enough to ensure inclusive, equitable education, particularly in countries that were already experiencing a learning crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that education sector responses be carefully designed to meet the learning needs of poor and disadvantaged children, so this crisis doesn't leave them even further behind.   The link between internet learning solutions and reading skills   A key insight provided by MICS6 data is that children with internet access at home also have substantially higher foundational reading skills. Well-designed digital learning platforms have the potential to provide interactive and engaging remote education, which could greatly benefit disadvantaged students, if they had access. This again shows why investment in connectivity in disadvantaged areas must be a priority. Information like this can help education stakeholders in all countries develop strategies and solutions targeted at helping children from poor households continue to learn in today's challenging environment.   Strategies for successful remote learning: internet, television, radio and 'take-home' printed materials Governments, schools and teachers around the world are looking for the best immediate solutions to provide remote learning opportunities during school closures. Afghanistan is broadcasting programmes that cover the national curriculum via television and radio. Argentina, Iran, Morocco and Viet Nam have all adopted hybrid approaches that rely on a mix of online learning for those who have internet access, and educational programming offered via television or radio for those who do not. Some countries are also delivering printed learning materials to households to reach those children who do not have access to the internet, television or radio. In the long run, the global education community needs to develop and implement comprehensive remote learning plans and modalities, including accessible digital and media content, to provide quality learning during pandemics and other crises. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have only begun to manifest and will persist long after social isolation has ended. Remote learning programmes, using various modalities, should be designed to meet the needs of all children and ensure that existing learning gaps are not further widened. Providing the world's disadvantaged and marginalized children with equitable access to learning opportunities is critical to creating a sustainable future and must be a priority for the global education sector. We can overcome the digital divide by accelerating access and finding the most innovative ways to provide online learning. And we can leverage this crisis to help bring about that change even more quickly. We must work together to seize the moment, so that education systems are stronger and more inclusive after this pandemic.
girl_from_pluto é parte de um pequeno grupo de fotógrafos adolescentes
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Cinco estratégias que os governos estão utilizando para responder à violência contra mulheres e crianças durante a COVID-19

Embora o mundo tenha sido pego de surpresa pelo tamanho e pelas ramificações da crise da COVID-19, ele deveria estar preparado para responder aos riscos crescentes ao bem-estar e à segurança de mulheres e crianças. A violência contra as mulheres e a violência contra as crianças são disseminadas globalmente e intrinsicamente conectadas, tendo em comum fatores de risco e profundas e similares consequências adversas. A literatura sobre pandemias pode ser limitada, mas temos evidência suficiente para dizer, sem sombra de dúvida, que fatores relacionados, como o confinamento, o isolamento social, níveis aumentados de estresse financeiro e respostas institucionais fracas, podem elevar ou intensificar os graus de violência. “De fato, ao longo do mês passado, notícias alertaram para a ‘tempestade perfeita’, que se manifestou em mais chamadas para linhas telefônicas de ajuda, serviços on-line de apoio e boletins de ocorrência.”De fato, ao longo do mês passado, notícias alertaram para a “tempestade perfeita”, que se manifestou em mais chamadas para linhas telefônicas de ajuda, serviços on-line de apoio e boletins de ocorrência. Organizações multinacionais agiram rapidamente, emitindo declarações que alertavam sobre o aumento do risco das duas formas de violência, enquanto pesquisadores revisavam evidências de crises passadas, propondo políticas para mitigar danos potenciais a populações em situações de vulnerabilidade. Enquanto os governos incrementam as respostas à COVID-19, o que está realmente sendo feito para combater a violência?   1. Expansão das linhas telefônicas de ajuda e compartilhamento de informaçãoA informação está sendo largamente compartilhada através de manuais, recursos e ações de defesa visando amigos e familiares. O programa Parenting for Lifelong Health compilou um guia comprovadamente eficaz para a conduta segura de pais durante a quarentena. Linhas telefônicas de ajuda e plataformas de apoio on-line estão sendo expandidas ou criadas. A Itália, um dos países mais atingidos pela pandemia, está evitando “uma emergência dentro de uma emergência” por meio da linha telefônica de ajuda 1522 para violência e perseguição. Muitos outros países estão se comprometendo a manter linhas telefônicas de ajuda e canais de informação abertos durante e após o pico da COVID-19.   2. Criação de abrigos e de outras opções de acomodação segura para sobreviventesMuitos países reconhecem que alojamentos seguros são necessários em tempos de quarentena. Acomodações seguras permitem que as sobreviventes (e os menores que os acompanham) evitem temporariamente seus agressores. Como parte do pacote de ajuda para enfrentar COVID-19, o Canadá distribuiu 50 milhões de dólares canadenses entre abrigos para mulheres e centros para agressão sexual [18 de março]. Na França, um reforço de 1,1 milhão de euros em financiamento para organizações antiabuso incluíram 20 mil pernoites em hotéis para sobreviventes se protegerem de parceiros abusivos [30 de março]. Em Trento (Itália), um promotor decretou que, em situações de violência doméstica, o agressor deve deixar a casa, ao invés da vítima [28 de março]. Decretos semelhantes foram feitos na Áustria e Alemanha. Apesar da decisão ser louvável, ela faz com que garantir a segurança de sobreviventes que permaneceram em casa seja um desafio, uma vez que os agressores conhecem o local e talvez tenham acesso a ele. Julia, 16 anos, assiste a aulas on-line em casa, enquanto seus pais realizam teletrabalho durante o surto de Coronavírus em Nova Iorque3. Expansão do acesso aos serviços para sobreviventesComo a quarentena limita a mobilidade pessoal e a liberdade de movimento, alguns países estão encontrando maneiras de expandir o acesso a serviços ligados à violência. A França deu início a centros ‘pop up’ em supermercados, lugares que as mulheres provavelmente já estão visitando [30 de março]. Em diversos países (incluindo França, Itália e Espanha), uma ‘palavra-código’ específica sinaliza às farmácias para contatar as autoridades relevantes. Alguns países lançaram ou aprimoraram aplicativos ocultos  através dos quais as mulheres podem buscar os serviços e assim evitar ligar quando estão perto dos agressores (veja Italy, UK, entre outros). Serviços de proteção para mulheres e crianças devem ser considerados “essenciais”, e não bloqueados durante a COVID-19.   4. Limitando fatores de risco associados à violênciaAlguns países estão tentando resolver as formas negativas de se lidar com a COVID-19, as quais podem exacerbar o risco de violência. A Groenlândia proibiu a venda de álcool na capital Nuuk para reduzir o risco de violência a crianças que estão em casa [29 de março]. A África do Sul adotou medidas semelhantes [26 de março]. Embora se demonstre que o abuso de álcool e seu uso problemático estejam ligados a episódios mais graves de violência, a relação é complexa e as evidências de como as políticas relacionadas ao álcool afetam a violência são limitadas. Outros países, contudo, ainda precisam tomar medidas proativas para limitar os riscos associados. Restringir a venda de armas, por exemplo, limitaria o acesso a armas letais em um período de estresse exacerbado, reduzindo potencialmente o risco de feminicídio e de morte infantis. Ações políticas inteligentes podem reduzir o risco de danos e facilitar saídas positivas a fim de diminuir o estresse e promover a saúde mental.   5. Modificações no direito da família e nos sistemas de justiçaA Austrália implementou uma série de modificações no direito da família para permitir ao sistema de justiça responder com mais eficiência aos casos durante a quarentena [3 de abril]. Primeiro, eles permitem que os tribunais exijam monitoramento eletrônico nos casos de fiança e que suspendam, sob certas condições, ordens de prisão. Segundo, eles possibilitam o registro on-line de ordens de restrição. Terceiro, eles criam uma nova infração, multas mais altas e expansão do prazo de prescrição das ordens restritivas. À medida que mais países vivenciam períodos prolongados de suspensão dos serviços de justiça, inovações e emendas adicionais são necessárias para assegurar a proteção dos sobreviventes em situações desafiadoras.     Essas ações são louváveis, embora muitos países ainda não tenham  empregado recursos para ampliar esses serviços. Políticas iniciais se desenvolvem basicamente em países de alta renda, o que pode refletir a realidade de que muitos lugares de renda baixa e média possuem orçamentos limitados para enfrentar a violência contra a mulher e a violência contra a criança, mesmo quando não haja crise. Onde e como os recursos devem ser empregados? Enquanto os casos reportados e os números fornecidos pelos serviços existentes nos proporcionam um indício do que possa estar ocorrendo, eles também nos passam um quadro imperfeito. Por exemplo, em alguns lugares, chamadas para linhas telefônicas de ajuda à violência doméstica diminuíram, possivelmente por que as sobreviventes estão próximas dos agressores em quarentena e não podem buscar ajuda de maneira segura. Em outros, a procura por abrigos diminuiu, possivelmente porque as sobreviventes têm medo de contrair a COVID-19 devido à dificuldade de manter distanciamento físico dentro dos abrigos. Além disso, alguns sistemas de detecção de rotina estão parados, como os professores e os assistentes sociais. Nos Estados Unidos, vários estados já reportaram reduções no abuso e maus-tratos infantis, provavelmente devido à redução na detecção, e não na ocorrência. Ademais, o aumento do uso de telefones e computadores para se comunicar no lugar das interações pessoais, também apresenta outros meios para a perpetração de novas formas de violência on-line, incluindo assédio, exploração e abuso sexuais. Os esforços de mitigação devem tratar das diversas formas de violência conectadas à COVID-19. As medidas tomadas devem ser continuamente monitoradas para garantir que alcancem os efeitos pretendidos, e não resultar em danos indesejados. “Para muitas mulheres e meninas, a ameaça é maior onde elas deveriam estar mais seguras. Em suas próprias casas.”  Enquanto o Secretário-Geral das Nações Unidas urgentemente clama pela paz nas casas ao redor do mundo, nós esperamos que essa lista não exaustiva de respostas governamentais forneça inspiração para outras ações. Quando se trata de prevenir e reduzir a violência e apoiar sobreviventes, todos temos um papel a desempenhar, particularmente nesses tempos sem precedentes.   Alessandra Guedes é Gerente de Pesquisas de Gênero e Desenvolvimento na UNICEF Innocenti. Amber Peterman é Especialista em Políticas Sociais junto à Unicef Innocenti e à Universidade da Carolina do Norte em Chapel Hill. Dina Deligiorgis é Especialista em Políticas para acabar com a violência contra as mulheres na ONU Mulheres. Agradecemos a Patricia Salomão do Centro de Referência de Apoio à Mulher Vítima de Violência (CRAM) da Secretaria da Mulher em Barueri (SP – Brasil) e Marcia Salomão por traduzirem este blog da sua versão original em inglês.
Ethical collection of data from children during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Ethical collection of data from children during the COVID-19 pandemic

Our need to understand, quantify, forecast, track and unpack the COVID-19 pandemic fuels an insatiable need for data. While children are not the primary victims, they are significantly impacted in most areas of their lives, and will continue to be well after the pandemic is contained. Understanding the impact on children is critical. Understanding their circumstances will be necessary for current and future predictions of impacts of the crisis on them. Collecting information that helps us determine how best to respond to similar future outbreaks is essential. There is so much we don’t know, and our children’s futures depend on us knowing. We need to take care. We need to ensure that our desire to help, to understand, to learn and to do all of this quickly doesn’t overshadow the basic principle of 'do no harm.'We need children’s data, and we need it yesterday. We need data about them, and we will need to get data directly from them. This is necessary to secure the rights of children, ensure that they have a voice, are safe and protected and that their basic needs are met. Where physical distancing is in place, we will look to use both old and new tech to gather the data online or by using phones. We will explore pre-existing big data sets and try and create new ones with new tech. When the crisis is over, we may revert whole or in part to face to face interviews. Whether using primary or secondary data we will be collecting information on children because we need to. Despite restrictions on movement due to coronavirus containment measures health workers in Al-Hasakeh city, Syria, continue to provide guidance to a refugee mother at the shelters on infant and young child feeding practices.However, and this is a big however, we need to take care. We need to ensure that our desire to help, to understand, to learn and to do all of this quickly doesn’t overshadow the basic principle of “do no harm.” Whether we are considering using apps for contact tracing, or thinking of asking children via social media platforms about their day to day lives in lock-down, we need to do so with a critical lens on our belief that we will do good through the data collection. Read new Discussion Paper: Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 PandemicThe risk is obvious, if we don’t consider issues like equity, justice, respect, privacy, purpose limitations and data value add, then we are at risk of negatively impacting those that we are looking to support. Without appropriate ethical reflection throughout and beyond the pandemic, a number of negative outcomes for children will likely ensue including: Significant exposure to risk of traumatization due to inappropriate questions and timing and an inability to determine where they may be within trauma and healing cycles;Difficulties responding to and ensuring an appropriate duty of care during the emergency and immediately after, if observation or disclosure of abuse occurs and/or if significant psychological/physical needs are evidenced given limited access to services;Perceived and actual privacy and confidentiality violations and data collection in excess of requirements and without appropriate and truly informed consent impacting the child and eroding the trust of children and their communities;Data obtained for one purpose, such as contract tracing, being misused for political/social surveillance;Potential reprisals against child participation or even consequent to attempts at recruitment in evidence generation, heightened during the mitigation stage of the outbreak in contexts where children are in lock-down;Poorly designed evidence generation that produces unreliable data including: a) poorly designed instruments that make incorrect assumptions relating to impacts, needs, experiences, and homogeneity of children and their experiences and, b) using technologies that may not be accessible to disadvantaged children resulting in poorly informed policies and future risk mitigation in outbreaks that fail to equitably meet children’s needs and long-term development;Missed opportunities to obtain children’s perspectives and insights – not just those considered ‘children’s issues’ – and/or prioritizing subject matter that fails to take into account children’s priorities in relation to support during COVID-19 and other future outbreaks.A young girl in Cairo, Egypt, does schoolwork on a tablet while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.In all the above examples our desire to help and to understand becomes subverted by the benign neglect of the ethical imperative. So whenever primary or secondary data collection from or about children is undertaken, explicit reflection is required on the timing, approach, necessity and transparency of the process. Consideration also should be given to privacy, representation, consent and importantly the circumstances of children. As always it will be the most disadvantaged and marginalized children that will suffer the greatest. Whether through exclusion, surveillance or lack of access to resources and cramped conditions these cohorts are at a heightened risk of vulnerability to multiple deprivations, psychological distress and exploitation both before and after the pandemic is contained. In these and all instances our response needs to be continuous vigilance, reflection and development of mitigation strategies. In some instances, the data collection should simply not go ahead in either the short term or indeed ever. We have to be prepared to put aside our ambitions for principles, to swap idealism for the realities of context, and to be ever vigilant.   Gabrielle Berman is Senior Advisor, Ethics in Evidence Generation at UNICEF Innocenti. This blog builds on a new Innocenti Discussion Paper highlighting ethical considerations involving children in research on the COVID-19 pandemic. For more visit UNICEF Innocenti's COVID-19 and children rapid research response  microsite.
Caring in the time of COVID-19: Gender, unpaid care work and social protection
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Caring in the time of COVID-19: Gender, unpaid care work and social protection

Care work, which is predominantly provided by women and girls, is a central yet typically undervalued contributor to economies. It includes supporting daily activities of individuals (such as cooking, cleaning, and providing daily essentials), as well as the health and well-being of others, including children and the elderly. Emerging data indicates that among confirmed cases of COVID-19 men are consistently dying in higher numbers than women. But when it comes to the economic and social fallout of the pandemic, women and girls face much greater risks. The UN recently published a policy brief recognising these risks, including impacts to sexual and reproductive health, and increases in gender-based violence. Women will be the hardest hit by this pandemic, but they will also be the backbone of recovery in communities. Every policy response that recognises this will be the more impactful for it.COVID-19 impact on women and girls’ unpaid care workThe rapid spread of COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role of care work, particularly in times of crisis. Coronavirus containment measures have resulted in the closure of many services—including schools, basic health care, and day care centres—shifting responsibility for their provision on to households. While this could offer an opportunity for gender roles to shift within the home, emerging evidence suggests that care roles continue to be assumed disproportionately by women during this pandemic. Even before the pandemic, globally women and girls carried out on average three times times the amount of unpaid care and domestic work of men and boys. These responsibilities will only increase with new health and hygiene requirements, such as hand-washing and taking care of sick family members. Curfews and self-quarantine measures are likely to make these tasks even more challenging. Nurses wearing masks and gloves to protect against the Coronavirus, in the health center of Gonzagueville, a suburb of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.191 countries have implemented nationwide school closures in an attempt to prevent further contagion, impacting over 91 per cent of world’s student population. On average, women will spend more time providing care and educational support to children. Temporary school closures also risk turning into school drop-out. Worryingly, the economic instability caused by COVID-19 could increase early and forced marriage, particularly for adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries. Care burdens will manifest differently based on women and girls’ ages and stages in life. People over the age of 60 have the highest risk of infection. They are also often sources of childcare support within families, enabling younger women to work and study. The inter-generational impacts of the virus on long-term care arrangements, when children need to be separated from older family members, will need to be better understood. The double caregiving burden of women in paid care workMore than 70 per cent of workers in the health and social sector are women. Women frontline care workers may face a double caregiving burden; additional demands placed on health services may require longer working hours, combined with increased care work at home. Paid care workers are also at higher risk of infection, particularly those in jobs that lack protective gear and protocols to keep them safe. Women disproportionately work in care-related jobs with poor protection and few benefits, including paid sick leave, making them particularly vulnerable. They are also more likely to be unable to take time off work or stay at home to care for themselves or others. Many who provide care in others’ homes do not have employment contracts so may not get paid if they are unable to work or they may be made work without the necessary protection or information. Social protection is key to mitigating gendered risks The anticipated rise in unpaid care work provided by women and girls has numerous consequences for gender equality, including increased risk of infection and psychosocial effects from providing care to an infected relative. What’s more, the heightened exposure to and risk of gender-based violence, combined with reduced access to health services, all point to potentially long-lasting impacts for women and girls’ health.   A mother reads a bedtime story to her 5 year old son in Harare, Zimbabwe where the government has ordered a period of quarantine to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.Over 130 countries (as of 17 April 2020) have used social protection measures to mitigate some of the socio-economic costs of both the pandemic and the containment measures, particularly on vulnerable groups. These measures include social assistance (e.g. family or child grants) and social insurance (e.g. unemployment insurance). Social protection measures to support low-income or vulnerable workers are also being introduced, including paid sick leave and waivers on rent and utilities payments. As their roles as unpaid carers becomes further entrenched, as schools stay closed, and as a global economic crisis looms, there is a real risk that efforts to invest in and promote gender parity and overall gender equality will be undermined or even jeopardised. Immediate attention across every sector is needed to safeguard rights and investments in women and girls. Given the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on gendered and multi-dimensional poverty, social protection responses that do not address the fundamental drivers of gender inequality, including unpaid care and responsibilities, will entrench already existing gender inequalities. As COVID—19 amplifies these inequalities, now is a critical window of opportunity to build more effective social protection to endure through future pandemics. How social protection can address gender inequalitiesGender-responsive age-sensitive social protection could recognise, reduce, and redistribute women’s care work. For example, providing childcare support to women with more care responsibilities and to frontline workers will balance paid work with unpaid care work. Italy’s “Cura Italia” stimulus package provides a childcare voucher of up to €600 for private-sector workers with children below the age of 12 who decide not to take parental leave.Cash transfers should include a care component by expanding the scope of existing cash transfers or creating new programmes targeted at paid and unpaid care workers. The El Salvador government has pledged $300 for up to 1.5 million households who work in the informal economy without financial safety.Increased and gender-responsive services to reduce care burdens. Providing hygiene kits and information about prevention measures or ensuring adequate access to water and sanitation are two ways of reducing care burdens. In Colombia, water services are provided free of charge for low-income families, while in Burkina Faso several utilities are being subsidised.Changing social norms around care provision is a long-term goal that needs consistent attention. Increasing men’s contribution to unpaid care and domestic work, for example through paid paternity leave and equal parental leave, can contribute to this. Austria’s COVID-19 response allows employees with childcare responsibilities to take up to 3 weeks of care leave on full pay.  Short-term measures alone will be insufficient to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic. Collectively financed and comprehensive social protection is needed. The crucial issue of care work must continue to be made visible to policy makers to ensure that effective and sustainable gender-responsive social protection approaches to the pandemic are adopted. This is especially critical for the most vulnerable groups, such as adolescent girls or migrant women. COVID-19 is an opportunity to bring about long-term changes to gender equality if social protection measures are introduced in a gender-responsive and age-sensitive way. The opportunity this pandemic has presented to improve the lives of those most vulnerable should not be squandered.   Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed is Gender & Development Manager at UNICEF Innocenti. Ramya Subrahmanian is Chief of Child Rights & Child Protection at UNICEF Innocenti. Discover our work on gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection (GRASSP), funded by with UK aid by the UK government.
How involved are parents in their children’s learning? MICS6 data reveal critical insights
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How involved are parents in their children’s learning? MICS6 data reveal critical insights

It is widely understood that parents play a pivotal role in a child’s education – research suggests that parental involvement in a child’s education boosts well-being and confidence and is important for academic progression. With school closures due to the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting an estimated 1.58 billion children in more than 180 countries, the importance of parental involvement in education has suddenly and dramatically increased. Internationally comparable data on parental involvement and its impact on children’s education is extremely limited. To address this critical gap, round 6 of the UNICEF supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS6) includes a new module on parental involvement. It assesses two types of parental involvement – home-based and school-based – using a questionnaire devoted to collecting information for children aged 5-17 years at the household level. A selection of preliminary findings from this module are discussed below.How does parental involvement in school differ between and within countries? One finding from countries with available MICS6 data is that there are large variations in levels of school-based parental involvement, which depends largely on whether schools have governing boards in which the parents can participate. In countries like Zimbabwe and the Kyrgyz Republic, almost all children attend schools with governing boards, whereas in Punjab (Pakistan) and Tunisia, fewer than 20 per cent of children attend schools with governing boards. Source: MICS6   However, the presence of a governing board does not translate into participation by all parents. In countries with similar percentages of children attending schools with governing boards, participation of parents in governing board meetings varies considerably. For example, although about 50-60 per cent of children in Mongolia, Georgia and Iraq attend schools with governing boards, parental involvement in board meetings is vastly different between these countries. Only 26 per cent of Mongolian children have parents who attended governing boards meetings compared to 33 per cent of Georgian children and 44 per cent of Iraqi children whose parents attend the meetings. Whether a child attends a school with a governing board is also closely linked to household wealth. In only four of the 13 countries analyzed – Zimbabwe, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lesotho and The Gambia – do children from the poorest quintile attend schools with governing boards on par with the national average. In the remaining countries, the percentage of poorest children who attend schools with governing boards is below the national average. Moreover, poorest parents participate in school governing boards at rates lower than the national average in all countries except in Zimbabwe, the Kyrgyz Republic and The Gambia. In summary, while the existence of school governing boards is important to school-based parental involvement, household wealth is also an important factor.   What are the differences in home-based parental involvement across countries? Similar to school-based parental involvement, the share of parents engaging in home-based parental involvement varies greatly between and within countries. For example, the share of children who receive help with homework is more than twice in Zimbabwe (89 per cent) than in Madagascar (42 per cent).MICS6 data show that household wealth is a major determinant of home-based parental involvement. Across all countries except Georgia, fewer children from lowest quintile received help with their homework than their peers from wealthier quintiles. In some countries, such as in Madagascar, Punjab (Pakistan) or Sierra Leone, the difference is quite large. Source: MICS6   Another determinant of home-based parental participation in education is the availability of books for children and household wealth. Here too we see wide disparities among countries – for example, most children in Georgia live in households which have child-oriented books, but more than 90 per cent of the poorest children in Punjab (Pakistan), Iraq, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zimbabwe live in households with not even one child-oriented book.   Source: MICS6What can we do to ensure that all children, including the poorest, have educational support from parents at school and at home? The MICS6 Parental Involvement module provides important new insights into critical factors associated with children’s education. As revealed by these preliminary findings, parents from the poorest households may not be able to fully participate in, and help advance, their child’s education. New insights like this and others provided by MICS6 equip policymakers and researchers with powerful tools to better understand the nature and impacts of factors like parental involvement in a child’s education, and will be more thoroughly explored in the upcoming series of articles on the COVID-19 pandemic. By informing the creation of data-driven policies that direct support to the poorest families, MICS6 helps to give every child an equal opportunity to participate in education, even during times of crisis.    
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