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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries.

The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.

COVID-19: Trends, Promising Practices and Gaps in Remote Learning for Pre-Primary Education
This paper examines the remote learning options that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights trends, gaps and emerging good practices that are supported by existing evidence.
Socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in four African countries

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Josephson; Talip Kilic; Jeffrey D. Michler

Institution: The World Bank
Published: November 2020
This paper provides some of the first evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of and responses to the pandemic among households in Sub-Saharan Africa. Econometric methods are applied to longitudinal household survey data from Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda. Results show that 256 million individuals are estimated to live in households that have lost income due to the pandemic. Attempts to cope with this loss are exacerbated by the inability to access medicine and staple foods among 20 to 25 percent of the households in each country, and food insecurity is disproportionately borne by households that were already impoverished prior to the pandemic. Finally, student-teacher contact has dropped from a pre-COVID-19 rate of 96 percent to just 17 percent among households with school-age children. These findings can help inform decisions by governments and international organizations on measures to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and reveal the need for continued monitoring.
Resultados del diagnóstico rápido de necesidades frentre a la pandemia COVID-19 Nicaragua
Institution: Save the Children
Published: October 2020
In May, Save the Children conducted a survey with 87 beneficiaries of projects that have been implemented in partnership with CESESMA, FUNARTE, Los Pipitos, MILAVF, and the City Hall of Cua. The survey was aimed at parents of children and adolescents to gain better knowledge of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results set the foundation for this document and will support the definition and adaptation of current and future Save the Children interventions.
Survey of COVID-19 impact on national education planning units
Institution: UNESCO - Institute of Statistics
Published: October 2020

As  the  COVID-19  pandemic  spreads,  most  governments  around  the  world  have  temporarily  closed  educational  institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease. These nationwide closures are not only impacting hundreds  of  millions  of  students,  they  are also  affecting  the  capacity  of  national education planning units  to monitor education outcomes. During these trying times, when countries need data more urgently than ever before to plan and monitor emergency response efforts and prepare for medium- and long-term mitigation and recovery strategies, statistical operations and other office activities are being seriously disrupted or interrupted.  The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has therefore launched and conducted a survey of COVID-19 pandemic impacts on national education planning units. The questionnaire is designed for statistical planning units in charge of national education statistics. The survey is available in four languages (English, French, Spanish, and Russian) and can be submitted by email or through the online survey platform. Therefore, the greatest degree of survey participation, integrity, and confidence in the quality of the data are ensured.

Stemming learning loss during the pandemic: a rapid randomized trial of a low-tech intervention in Botswana

AUTHOR(S)
Noam Angrist; Peter Bergman; Caton Brewster (et al.)

Published: August 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools for over 1.6 billion children, with potentially long-term consequences. This paper provides some of the first experimental evidence on strategies to minimize the fallout of the pandemic on education outcomes. We evaluate two low-technology interventions to substitute schooling during this period: SMS text messages and direct phone calls. We conduct a rapid trial in Botswana to inform real-time policy responses collecting data at four to six-week intervals. We present results from the first wave.
COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss

While remote learning measures are essential for mitigating the short-term and long-term consequences of COVID-19 school closures, little is known about their impact on and effectiveness for learning.

This working paper contributes to filling this gap by: 1. Exploring how disrupted schooling may affect foundational learning skills, using data from MICS6 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys - round 6) in 2017–2019; 2. Examining how countries are delivering and monitoring remote learning based on data from the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank’s National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures survey; and 3. Presenting promising key practices for the effective delivery and monitoring of remote learning.

COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
This paper summarizes the recent UNICEF analysis on investing in early childhood education in developing countries. It provides a benefit-cost analysis of investments in pre-primary education in 109 developing low- and middle-income countries and territories, using data from 2008 to 2019.
TV-based learning in Bangladesh: is it reaching students?

AUTHOR(S)
Kumar Biswas; T. M. Asaduzzaman; David K. Evans (et al.)

Institution: The World Bank
Published: July 2020
Is TV-based learning during COVID-19 school closures in Bangladesh reaching students? Most students (86 percent) within our sample of more than 2,000 Grade 9 stipend recipients are aware of government provided TV-based learning programs; yet only half of the students with access to these programs choose to access them. Also, very few students (21 percent) have access to government provided online learning programs, and among those that do, only about 2 percent choose to access them.
Cite this research | Open access | No. of pages: 6 | Language: English | Topics: Education | Tags: educational policy, COVID-19 response, remote learning | Countries: Bangladesh
Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19

 

This protocol details the aims, scope and methodology used for the rapid review titled: “Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19."

 

Cite this research | No. of pages: 18 | Language: English | Topics: Child Protection | Tags: COVID-19 | Publisher: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19

 

This rapid review collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19, is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

COVID-19 education response: preparing the reopening of schools: resource paper
Institution: UNESCO
Published: May 2020

UNESCO has been monitoring education responses to COVID-19 globally, collecting and analyzing information and facilitating policy dialogue and experience-sharing. Key policy issues include the timing, the conditionsand processesfor school reopening. The effectiveness of these policy decisions and reopening strategies will depend on the level of preparedness of the education system in terms of infrastructure (health and sanitary measures); teaching staff (ability to provide both psychosocial and academic support); pedagogical preparedness (offering remedial action and alternative modalities to meet learning objectives); learners, families andcommunities (ability and willingness to return to school and readiness to continue learning).

Cite this research | No. of pages: 29 | Language: English | Topics: Education | Tags: school attendance, COVID-19 response, lockdown, remote learning | Publisher: UNESCO
Lost wages: the COVID-19 cost of school closures

AUTHOR(S)
George Psacharopoulos; Victoria Collis; Harry Anthony Patrinos (et al.)

Published: May 2020
Social distancing requirements associated with COVID-19 have led to school closures. In April, 192 countries had closed all schools and universities, affecting more than 90 percent of the world's learners: over 1.5 billion children and young people. Closures are expected to reduce schooling and lead to future losses in earnings. Starting from the assumption that every additional year of schooling translates to 8 percent in future earnings, this paper estimates and confirms the loss in marginal future earnings on the basis of a four-month shutdown. This paper also estimated the losses by level of education. The findings show that the school closures reduce future earnings. It is also likely that students from low-income countries will be affected most, where the earning losses will be devastating. These estimates are conservative, assuming closures end after four months, with schools re-opening in the new academic year, and that school quality will not suffer.
Remote-learning, time-use, and mental health of Ecuadorian high-school students during the COVID-19 quarantine

AUTHOR(S)
Igor Asanov; Francisco Flores; David McKenzie (et al.)

Institution: The World Bank
Published: May 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools around the world, forcing school systems and students to quickly attempt remote learning. A rapid response phone survey of over 1,500 high school students aged 14 to 18 in Ecuador was conducted to learn how students spend their time during the period of quarantine, examine their access to remote learning, and measure their mental health status. The data show that 59 percent of students have both an internet connection at home and a computer or tablet, 74 percent are engaging in some online or telelearning, and 86 percent have done some schoolwork on the last weekday. Detailed time-use data show most students have established similar daily routines around education, although gender and wealth differences emerge in time spent working and on household tasks. Closure of schools and social isolation are the two main problems students say they face, and while the majority are mostly happy, 16 percent have mental health scores that indicate depression.
The Evolving Epidemiologic and Clinical Picture of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 Disease in Children and Young People
The initial impression that paediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection is uncommon and generally mild has been replaced by a more nuanced understanding of infectious manifestations in children and adolescents across low-, middle-, and high-income countries and by demographic structure, with recognition of a widening disease spectrum. Critical knowledge gaps, especially in low- and middle-income countries remain, that have significant public policy and programme implications. Insufficient data disaggregated by age, geography and race/ethnicity are hindering efforts to fully assess prevalence of infection and disease in children and adolescents and their role in transmission. Potential biologic differences in susceptibility to infection and between children and adults need to be assessed. Determination of mother-to-child SARS-CoV-2 transmission during pregnancy or peripartum requires appropriate samples obtained with proper timing, lacking in most studies. Finally, predictors of disease progression, morbidity and mortality in children need to be determined particularly as the pandemic moves to low- and middle-income countries, where poor nutritional and health conditions and other vulnerabilities are more frequent among children than in higher-income settings. Countries, UN agencies, public health communities, donors and academia need to coordinate the efforts and work collectively to close the data and knowledge gaps in all countries (high-, middle- and low-income) for better evidence to guide policy and programme decision-making for children and COVID-19 disease.
Cite this research | No. of pages: 62 | Language: English | Topics: Health | Publisher: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.