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Five things we learned from research on child survivors of violence
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Five things we learned from research on child survivors of violence

Understanding prevalence, characteristics and motives of disclosure, help-seeking and reporting of violence against children  Violence against children is a pervasive global phenomenon. Estimates indicate over 1 billion children under the age of 18 experience emotional, physical or sexual violence every year from a range of perpetrators – including parents, peers and intimate or dating partners. Despite these high figures, official figures of VAC are just the tip of the iceberg.How much do we know about children’s disclosure, help-seeking and reporting of violence? Most studies in low- and middle-income countries have narrowly focused on either reporting intimate partner violence among adolescent girls, on specific types of violence, or in specific settings. A new publication, analyzing nationally representative Violence Against Children Survey data from six countries, aims to broaden the focus. The publication, just released in BMC Public Health, led by UNICEF Innocenti, in collaboration with other UNICEF offices and government counterparts, examines data from Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania.The study had three objectives:Measure the prevalence of informal disclosure (to family and friends among others), formal help-seeking (from social, health and legal services), formal reporting, and receipt of formal help;Document characteristics associated with disclosure and health seeking;Understand reasons why children did not seek help. Using nationally representative data from six countries, the study analyzed reports from children aged 13 to 17 who experienced any physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes. These samples of child survivors of violence represented a high percentage of total children across countries: physical violence among children ranged from 50 to 84%, while that for sexual violence ranged from 6 to 36%. What did we learn in terms of disclosure and reporting? Most children have never told anyone about the violence they experience: Across countries the percentage of children who ever told someone informally about their experience was low—23% in Cambodia and 32% in Kenya, to 42% in Tanzania and 54% in Malawi. These estimates show that children may be telling survey interviewers about violence for the very first time and confirms that violence is largely under-acknowledged and “hidden in plain sight.” It also means that children’s existing social networks—including family, friends, and neighbors are often a first source of disclosure and possible support system for children survivors. Formal services are rarely accessed or utilized by child survivors: The percentage of children who reported to formal sources was low—ranging from under 1% in Cambodia to 25% in Tanzania (formal disclosure)—and the percentage who received help was even smaller (1% in Nigeria to 11% in Tanzania, this outcome was not measured in Cambodia or Haiti). These statistics confirm that only a fraction of children attempt to contact health, social or legal services and even fewer receive any support, highlighting the importance of expanding accessibility and reach of assistance. Factors encouraging disclosure, help-seeking and reporting varied by country: Identifying factors that encourage these behaviors could help target services or develop secondary prevention programming. However, few factors were consistently positively correlated with help-seeking behaviors—including factors that are hypothesized to help, like household wealth and residing in urban settings. This lack of pattern underscores the importance of context and the challenges in targeting services using observable characteristics of child survivors. Self-blame, apathy and not needing or wanting services were top factors deterring children from disclosure: Across countries, common reasons cited for not seeking help were responses like “I felt it was my fault (self blame)”, “I did not think it was a problem (apathy)” or “I don’t want or need services.” For example, in Cambodia, the most common reason for not seeking help for physical violence was self-blame, mentioned by 56% of children, while the most common reason in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria was apathy (25%-39%). Fewer children reported fear of repercussions or helplessness, while lack of access and financial constraints were rarely mentioned. These reasons highlight the role of shame and how the normalization of VAC is pervasive. Better data and methodological innovation is urgently needed: This study underscores the need for innovation in research methodologies to accurately estimate prevalence of sensitive topics. Improvements might include methods allowing self-administration of questions and those which allow for greater confidentiality. In addition, future surveys should include a wider range of household and community level indicators to understand underlying dynamics surrounding the child’s environment—for example, parental (mental health, parenting, time use), household (social and economic vulnerability factors), and community (gender norms, service availability) characteristics. What should we take away from these results? One concrete implication is that statistics based on violence against children reporting to formal sources such as data from health systems, police, or NGO reporting are likely to underestimate the total prevalence ranging from 4 to 940-fold depending on the country. This has implications for the analysis of such data during COVID-19, where there have been fears that children are even less able to access services—and that many cases of violence are uncounted. Our results show this is a huge issue and must be accounted for when interpreting the dynamics stemming from administrative data.Other implications relate to how to improve use of services for survivors. One strategy is to address barriers including social norms that normalize violence, and how these manifest in different contexts. Another is to improve linkages and raise awareness of child protection services and common touchpoints  for children, such as those within the education, health and community-based structures, which are likely to interact with children on an informal, daily basis. These trusted individuals in children’s lives are important entry points for formal services.It is also important to strengthen the capacities of professionals working in health, education and social sectors to be able to identify risks and respond using a survivor centered approach. Given the wide under-reporting and pervasive nature of violence against children, services which are targeted to only one setting or population are unlikely to result in broad uptake of services and assistance. Multi-sectoral responses and well-networked referral systems are necessary.Much more research is needed to unpack the dynamics around help-seeking and secondary prevention for survivors. We hope this analysis will serve as a starting point to advance research and practice to end violence against children and the long-lasting negative effects experienced by children over their lifetimes.***Special thanks to Alessandra Guedes, Alina Potts and Mary Shawa for helpful comments.Amber Peterman, Ph.D. joined UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in 2015 as a Social Policy Specialist and now works as a consultant with joint affiliation as an Associate Adjunct Professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Amber focuses on gender, violence and adolescent wellbeing and safe transitions to adulthood with the Transfer Project evaluations of social protection and cash transfers in Africa.Audrey Pereira is a Doctoral Student in Public Policy at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Tia Palermo is Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University at Buffalo (State University of New York) and an Affiliated Researcher with the Transfer Project. Full citation: Pereira A, Peterman A, Neijhoft AN, Buluma R, Kaloga IF, Harvey R, Islam A, Kheam T, Kitembe M, Lund-Henriksen B, Maksud N, Maternowska MC, Potts A, Rottanak C, Shawa M, T Palermo (2020). Disclosure, reporting and help-seeking among child survivors of violence: A cross-country analysis. BMC Public Health 20(1051).
Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence
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Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence

Although much of the world is focused on the “silver lining” that COVID-19 does not appear to severely impact children’s health, UNICEF is raising the alarm about the potential damage of the hidden impacts on children’s health as well as the indirect socio-economic effects of the fallout from the pandemic. In response, UNICEF Innocenti is generating evidence to assist and inform UNICEF’s COVID-19 work. This blog is about a research conducted by UNICEF on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection, including topics such as violence against children, child labour and child marriage. How are children affected by health crises?A key first step in this process is synthesising what we already know through a rapid review, which is a fast way of summarising what is known about a topic and highlights where there are gaps in our knowledge. COVID-19 affects numerous areas of children’s lives, including development and education. Child protection, including violence against children, child labour, and child marriage, is another key area impacted by the pandemic. Innocenti’s latest rapid review looks at how previous pandemics, epidemics (like Ebola and HIV/AIDS), and their control measures (such as social distancing and school closures) impact child protection. This is a particularly important issue because of the many hidden and understudied pathways between health crises and child protection areas. With the help of EPPI-Centre at University College London, over 6,000 studies were screened, of which 53 were included in the review. The broad scope of ‘child protection’Child protection is complex and includes many areas that cut across multiple aspects of children’s lives, including education and health. For this reason, the review has a very broad scope. While this means different policy needs are met, it makes completing a timely review challenging. The result is a ‘broad and shallow’ review, whereby the scope encompasses a range of areas, but the depth of analysis and specificity of policy recommendations are affected. Balancing robustness and timelinessRecent controversies point to the effects that poor quality studies and a rush to judgement can have on policy responses to COVID-19. It is generally understood, at least by the evidence synthesis community, that shortcuts and comprises on the standard systematic review template can be applied to produce something that is both policy-relevant and quick. The review is relatively comprehensive and transparent, with a publicly available methodology. However, the quality of evidence included was not assessed, which may affect the validity of the findings. There has been an unprecedented global sharing of data, editorials, policy guidance, and research during the COVID-19 crisis. While this is beneficial for evidence-informed responses, much of this research is being undertaken in an uncoordinated fashion, making it almost impossible to keep on top of new and potentially relevant research. As a result, the review may have duplicated some existing work and may be missing key evidence. Lessons LearnedFor evidence synthesis to be most useful, it may be counter-productive to expect too much from one product, especially if is a rapid evidence synthesis. Rather than one all-encompassing review, it may make sense to complete several smaller rapid reviews, each with their own specific purpose and scope. There is also value to be had in getting a draft version of the report into the public domain quickly via an open access portal. In the future, collaboration with emerging networks and initiatives will be prioritised to ensure that rigorous evidence for decision-making is made available in a timely and accessible manner. For example, the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making helps decision makers find the best evidence available and coordinates evidence syntheses. Global organisations responsible for setting standards for evidence synthesis are fast-tracking editorial processes for COVID-19-relevant evidence reviews. Responding quickly to a crisisDespite the challenges encountered, UNICEF was able to respond quickly to the COVID-19 crisis for various reasons. Firstly, UNICEF was well-prepared to provide relevant evidence thanks to recent work on the use research to drive change for children. Secondly, UNICEF understood that COVID-19 had serious implications for children and adapted work plans to focus on this. Thirdly, diverse expertise from UNICEF’s Child Protection Section and the evidence community were combined in an integrated effort, using methods experts and technology to find and use research fast. This helped shape the review which will assist UNICEF and others to ensure no child is left behind, during and after the pandemic. Read the full rapid review and the shorter research brief. Explore an interactive visualization in the evidence gap map. Read the study protocol on which the review was based. Shiv Bakrania is a Knowledge Management Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti. Sandy Oliver is Professor of Public Policy at UCL Institute of Education and Deputy Director of the EPPI-Centre.
COVID-19 may pose greater risk to children than originally thought
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COVID-19 may pose greater risk to children than originally thought

It is commonly accepted, at least for now, that children and adolescents (0-19 years) have been largely spared the direct epidemiological effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their own health and survival. This narrative is based predominantly on early data from the first affected countries of the virus, notably from China (Wuhan Province) and Italy in early 2020, and also other high-income countries including the United States and some European nations. This narrative has conditioned subsequent screening and testing of COVID-19 cases in children and adolescents, which have been notably lower than for other age cohorts. But demographic dynamics differs widely among countries, and assumptions and narrative made on evidence taken from ageing societies and mainly from high income countries may not hold for more youthful and growing populations (Figure 1). For this reason, we began to investigate the burden of COVID-19 cases for children and adolescents globally. And what we have found so far, despite major data limitations, suggest that children worldwide may be more affected by COVID-19 than the dominant narrative so far suggests. The narrative [that children have been spared] is based predominantly on early data from the first affected countries of the virus, notably China and Italy and other high-income countries including the United States and some European nations.Italy source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1103023/coronavirus-cases-distribution-by-age-group-italy/ Kenya source: https://www.health.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Kenya-SITREP-090-15-Jun-2020.pdfThe dataset we have compiled from websites of 42 countries with available disaggregated data shows that the average of COVID-19 reported cases among children and adolescents under 20 years as a percentage of total cases is 8.1 per cent. There is an incredibly broad spread among the proportions, ranging from Paraguay, where under-20s account for about 23 per cent of the national COVID case load on 14 June 2020, to Spain, where they represented just 0.82 per cent by 4 June 2020. (Figure 2). A pattern of the child and adolescent burden of reported COVID-19 cases emerges when countries are aggregated along income levels and geographic locations. Using the World Bank income categorization, the share of COVID-19 cases among under-20s in the total reported burden is around 10 per cent for low- and middle-income countries (LMICS) including China compared to 7 per cent for high-income countries (Figure 1). When China is excluded, the share of COVID-19 cases among under-20s in the total national burden is around 11 percent. What is perhaps more disturbing, however, is that for some of the high-burden child and adolescent mortality countries – including Brazil, India and Nigeria – the proportion of cases among under 20s to the total national COVID-19 cases is in double digits. One reason that children may be neglected as sufferers from COVID-19 derives from the way the virus affects them. Children confirmed with COVID-19 generally have fewer symptoms than adults, including fever and cough, and much less dyspnoea (shortness of breath) than adults. Consistent with less severe disease, laboratory findings in children with COVID-19 are less abnormal than in adults, and they are less likely to require ICU or significant treatments. However, the emerging multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MISS or MIS-C) in children reported in Western countries is of great concern and calls for increased vigilance. Early detection is key to prevent unintended consequences for children. Much of the difficulty of drawing definitive conclusions from the available data is related to the fact that there is just too little of child specific data. From our search of diverse sources, we were only able to draw on data by age from 42 countries out of the 188 countries and territories that have confirmed cases of COVID-19, which represents about 20 per cent of these countries. It is even harder to obtain disaggregated data to evaluate proportional representation by age among children and adolescents with COVID-19. This omission requires rapid rectification if the full direct effects of the virus on children and adolescents – and indeed other stratifiers such as gender and race/ethnicity -- are to be better understood. While understanding the additional burden the accurate age reporting may place on already overstretched health systems, particularly in countries with weak health system capacity, experience from some low-and-middle-income countries proved that it is possible for much more age disaggregated data to be made available in a readily accessible format. This will not only benefit children and adolescents but the wider understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on all age cohorts. The same argument can and is being made for disaggregation by sex. A medical worker applies a flu vaccine to a girl in Asuncion, Paraguay amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Health authorities in Paraguay are encouraging people over 60 and children to be vaccinated against the flu.It is imperative to have standardized age data to enable a comprehensive and timely understanding of the patterns of vulnerability across ages, geography, co-morbidities and vulnerabilities, thus enabling better programme strategies and policy adoption that are context specific. At the end of the day, the pandemic is about people in different parts of the world, so invoking the SDG principle of leaving no one behind, and universal health coverage, we need to pay attention to everyone including children and adolescents, who are often the silent victims. Children are without a voice or platform and are among the most vulnerable. It is the responsibility of all governments and parties to make sure they are not left behind in this epidemic due to lack of data, research and testing. The pandemic has currently appeared to hit men and the elderly hardest, particularly in high income countries. But data emerging from the US and elsewhere points alarmingly to COVID-19 disease becoming an equity issue, with certain ethnicities and income groups much more likely to die from it than othersIn addition, a further call by the authors is for the continuous monitoring of age- and sex-disaggregated data for COVID-19 by governments and major international agencies. The pandemic has currently appeared to hit men and the elderly hardest, particularly in high income countries. But data emerging from the US and elsewhere points alarmingly to COVID-19 disease becoming an equity issue, with certain ethnicities and income groups much more likely to die from it than others, even when controlling for pre-existing health conditions, age, and other socio-demographic factors. Like polio before it, unless we continue to monitor its socio-demographic spread, COVID-19 may start out being a disease that first affects more affluent communities and countries but could end up lasting longest and deepest among the world’s poorest countries and communities. In the HIV crisis, age-disaggregated data appeared long after the aggregate numbers or even the sex-disaggregated, leaving child prevention, detection and treatment lagging well behind that of adults. Until it did, children were assumed to be affected largely by its secondary effects on their parents, caregivers and family members. The disaggregated figures showed that children were also primary victims of the crisis, as well as secondary ones, but by the time this happened, it was too late to stop this momentum. We must not make the same mistakes with the COVID-19 crisis. See a complete list of country level COVID-19 data sources.   Priscilla Idele is Deputy Director of UNICEF Innocenti. David Anthony is Chief of Strategic Planning  and Convening at UNICEF Innocenti. Kaku Attah Damoah, is a Research Consultant at UNICEF Innocenti working on poverty reduction. Danzhen You is Sr. Advisor, Statistics and Monitoring at UNICEF.             
From Crisis Comes Opportunity: Spain’s Basic Income Response to COVID-19
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From Crisis Comes Opportunity: Spain’s Basic Income Response to COVID-19

Spain has been hard hit by Covid-19, both in terms of high death toll and worsening economic conditions. Government lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus left millions of households without earnings or temporary unemployed. A recent report anticipates a 13% decline in GDP in the worst-case scenario. This is a worrying prediction for a country characterised by high unemployment and high levels of extreme poverty, even before the crisis. But from this adversity comes an opportunity. The Government of Spain recently launched a national ‘Basic Income scheme’ (‘Ingreso Minimo Vital’), for extremely poor households and vulnerable groups. The means-tested programme is expected to reach approximately 2.5 million people, who will receive between €462 and €1,015 per month per household depending on the number of household members. Total household income and wealth determines whether a household receives the benefit, and applicants should be between 23 and 65 years of age and have legal residence in Spain of at least one year. There is also a condition of being registered as a job seeker. The programme is expected to cost €3,000 million. Protecting whom?Many countries have turned to social protection in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and direct cash transfers are one of the most effective measures for vulnerable families with children. While basic income had been on the policy agenda since 2016, the crisis incentivised the government to speed-up its introduction as living standards rapidly deteriorated following the outbreak.  As opposed to many countries who have introduced emergency cash transfers, Spain opted for a permanent basic income, which will remain after the current emergency and can be considered a commitment to long-term sustainability and better responsiveness for future crises. However, a temporary cash transfer reaching the most affected by the crisis would have enabled families to access the benefits faster while giving more time to the Ministry of Social Security to design this complex policy. Pro-poor social protection in Spain had previously been underfunded with low coverage. With an estimated 5.4% of the Spanish population living in extreme poverty, the high transfer value and national coverage of the new basic income has the potential to substantially reduce poverty and transform children’s lives, who make up about half of the estimated beneficiaries. However, this policy is not universal in nature, and some of the most vulnerable groups (such as migrants, youth under 23 years living alone, and those with difficulties registering as job seekers) will be excluded. Ruben (4) memorizes the names of sea animals with his mother while painting with water colors during the COVID-19 lockdown in Madrid.Design mattersInnovative design features characterise the new policy.  For example, ex-ante identification of beneficiaries has been adopted to improve targeting and efficacy. Moreover, while income from 2019 is used to determine who receives the benefit, it is also possible to apply if income up to June 2020 was below the equivalent annual threshold to be able to reach those who lost their income due to the corona crisis. The basic income is also designed partly with gender in mind. It explicitly considers the income needs of very vulnerable women and girls, including victims of sexual trafficking or domestic violence, by waiving the conditions needed to apply for benefits (such as applying as a household and being registered as a job seeker). This is particularly important as this crisis exacerbates gender vulnerabilities, with women losing their jobs, gaining additional care responsibilities, and potentially experiencing violence in the home. That said, the family-friendly and gender-responsive aspects of the policy could be strengthened by linking beneficiaries to complementary services, including child care support. The difficulties of incentivising work in a country with low paid jobsIn high income countries, where social assistance transfers are close to the minimum wage, a common worry among policymakers is that social protection can disincentivise people to work, even though this is not supported by consistent evidence. To encourage people to work when possible, the scheme does not count income earned under very short contracts when determining income eligibility, and benefits are reduced by less than the increase in earnings if a beneficiary starts working (the specific thresholds have not been announced yet, and this is a key component of the policy). This is an important feature, especially for single parent households where childcare incurs a significant cost and in countries (like Spain) where minimum wage is low so there is little incentive to take up employment if receiving social benefits. On the other hand, the scheme could encourage some to work in the informal sector so as not to declare income. An opportunity to mend a fragmented systemIn contrast to most European countries, Spain does not have a national social assistance benefit aimed at poverty reduction. Instead, this is the responsibility of regional governments, leading to decentralised, unequal, and highly heterogeneous programmes. The new basic income will have the same requirements throughout Spain. However, it is not clear whether this will complement or replace the existing programmes. Parallel systems may result in spending inefficiencies given that the poverty targeted regional benefits are not considered for the basic income application.   As the COVID-19 emergency has caused much hardship, the recently adopted basic income is seen as an opportunity to reform a social protection system that was traditionally not pro-poor. Spain’s new basic income was quickly approved by Parliament, in a moment where political polarisation is at its highest. Its thoughtful design, some gender considerations in mind, and constant monitoring planned to improve its effectiveness make this policy promising. The exclusion of highly vulnerable groups such as migrants and youth can impede the progress in ending poverty though. Having well-designed work incentives features (including childcare costs) and achieving cooperation between the central and regional governments will be key for its success. Jennifer Waidler and Maja Gavrilovic are Social and Economic Policy consultants with UNICEF Innocenti.   Explore our research on the impact of COVID-19 on children.
Ending child labour in South Asia through access to quality education
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Ending child labour in South Asia through access to quality education

Since 2000, the global number of children involved in child labour has dropped by 94 million. While this progress is encouraging, it is not good enough, especially when we consider the immense and long-lasting negative impacts child labour has on child wellbeing. Even more disheartening is the slowing rate of decline during 2012-16 compared to the previous four years. The fact that 152 million children globally are still being deprived of their migrants, combined with school closures, will likely increase school dropout and child labour. Remote online learning is not an option when less than 25 per cent of children in India and Bangladesh have internet access. Now more than ever, we must assess which schooling solutions improve learning, while also reducing child labour. Significant and strategic investments in effective education policies and programmes can not only ensure that children return to school after lockdowns, but also play a vital role in ending child labour in South Asia.   Ramya Subrahmanian is Chief of Child Rights and Protection at UNICEF Innocenti. Valeria Groppo is Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti.  Discover our work on Child Labour and education in India and Bangladesh.
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.
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