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When schools started closing their doors due to COVID-19, countries in Europe and Central Asia quickly provided alternative learning solutions for children to continue learning. More than 90 per cent of countries offered digital solutions to ensure that education activities could continue. However, lack of access to digital devices and a reliable internet connection excluded a significant amount of already marginalized children and threatened to widen the existing learning disparities. This report builds on existing evidence highlighting key lessons learned during the pandemic to promote learning for all during school closure and provides actionable policy recommendations on how to bridge the digital divide and build resilient education systems in Europe and Central Asia.
Rafael Pontuschka; Sophia Kan; Thomas Dreesen
This research explored the specific impacts of the pandemic on exposure to gender based violence risks among refugee and migrant girls and women in Italy. The research focused on refugee and migrant girls and women because of the intersectionality of vulnerabilities related to their gender and their migration status. It examined the availability and accessibility of gender based violence service provision over the course of the pandemic, and explored how services adapted in the face of this health emergency.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been widespread and disproportionately affected vulnerable segments of the population, including children and their families. The modest progress made in reducing child poverty has been reversed in all parts of the world by COVID-19. Impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of households with children – a joint World Bank and UNICEF publication - presents findings from data from high frequency phone surveys collected in 35 countries. The analysis identifies the impact of the crisis on households without and with (few or many) children, both focusing on the initial impact in 2020 but also the subsequent evolution of this impact. The analysis focus on key areas such as income and job loss, food insecurity, social protection programs and access to education, shedding light on the importance of placing children in poverty and their families highly on the agenda in the COVID-19 response and recovery.
Sophia Kan; Mirwais Fahez; Marco Valenza
In Afghanistan, 93% of children cannot read a simple text by the age of 10. Education is not available to everyone, especially for girls and children in remote areas. A form of community-based education, called Accelerated Learning Centers (ALCs), can help close the distance barrier and meet the needs of out-of-school children and girls. In May 2021, an assessment of foundational literacy and numeracy skills of ALC students and nearby government school students was conducted. Results show that children at ALCs are learning at similar levels or better compared with children who attend government schools. This report provides insight into practices to improve education in rural areas in Afghanistan.
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were serious questions about whether children were actually learning. With widespread school closures and other disruptions to the education system brought about by the pandemic, the learning crisis has escalated to new heights. As the pandemic enters its third year, 23 countries – home to around 405 million schoolchildren – are yet to fully open schools, with many schoolchildren at risk of dropping out. Over the past two years nearly 147 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling, amounting to 2 trillion hours of lost learning. Children have to get back to the classroom, but changes are needed to ensure that they really learn, starting with the foundational basics of reading and numeracy. This report offers unique insight into the extent of the learning crisis by providing an in-depth picture of which children are most at risk of not acquiring foundational learning skills. The analysis of 32 low- and middle-income countries and territories uses newly released data to examine the equity perspectives of the crisis, exploring learning outcomes among different subgroups of children, with a focus on the most vulnerable.
Two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, education has been seriously disrupted. In response to this crisis, the global priority remains to ensure every child is supported so they can return to school and catch up on lost learning. Recognizing the need to accelerate education recovery with urgent, at-scale action, this joint report by UNICEF in partnership with UNESCO and the World Bank highlights staggering levels of learning loss globally and takes stock of the measures being taken by countries to mitigate learning losses as schools reopen. Based on a survey of 122 UNICEF country and fundraising offices administered in early March 2022, the report presents the importance of and progress made in five key actions for education recovery, the RAPID: Reach every child and retain them in school; Assess learning levels; Prioritize teaching the fundamentals; Increase catch-up learning and progress beyond what was lost; and Develop psychosocial health and well-being so every child is ready to learn.
As Lebanon’s triple crisis continues to worsen, youth are struggling to find hope, support and opportunities amid mounting despair. The combined impact of an economic meltdown, the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Beirut Port explosions are forcing youth from all backgrounds to take on responsibilities beyond their ages, with detrimental impacts on their mental health and on access to opportunities. More and more young people are dropping out of education or any type of learning to engage in ill-paid, irregular and informal work to generate whatever income they can to help their families cope with the mounting challenges. UNICEF’s new assessment shows that 3 in 10 young people in Lebanon have stopped their education, while 4 in 10 reduced spending on education to buy essential items like basic food and medicine. The combined impact of the crises has led to a significant increase in mental health issues among young people, resulting in risky behaviour and substance abuse, as well as an increase in gender-based violence (GBV). Approximately one in four adolescents in Lebanon suffers from a psychiatric disorder. Alarmingly, 94 per cent of adolescents with a mental disorder have not sought any treatment. In September 2021, UNICEF conducted a Youth-Focused Rapid Assessment (YFRA), interviewing around 900 youth and adolescents aged 15 to 246 across Lebanon. One in four reported often feeling depressed and just over half the respondents said their lives worsened over the past year.
Golnaz Whittaker; Gavin Wood
Official statistics identify 2% to 7% of the population in the State of Palestine as having a disability. Evidence is limited regarding levels of access to assistive technologies (AT) by people with disabilities in the State of Palestine. However, estimates suggest that there are high levels of unmet need. Less than 10% of children with disabilities received assistive devices in the year of one recent survey. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on a range of such services in many countries, but little information is yet available on the impact on AT provision in humanitarian settings.
Financing quality social services will require increased public investment and greater mobilization of both domestic and international resources in the post-COVID era. Currently, low- and middle-income countries invest, on average, just one third of their total government expenditure in social spending on education, health and social protection. However, the fiscal space to enhance social spending remains constrained in many parts of the world. Given the scale of the challenge facing many countries, a renewed focus on financing social spending is needed to address widening inequalities. This policy brief is the second in a series that assesses key issues affecting social spending as part of UNICEF’s work on Public Finance for Children. The brief examines how recent trends are impacting on the financing available for, and directed to, social spending in low- and middle-income countries in different regions, using secondary analysis of public expenditure data collected by international organizations. It calculates median spending figures by region and income group, using World Bank regional aggregates for domestic spending.
To address the situation in the central Sahel region, improve learning and restore hope of the displaced children in Central Sahel, NRC, UNHCR and UNICEF have been implementing several activities other the past years. In December 2020, NRC launched the Better Learning Program (BLP) implemented by teachers to support children’s recovery from the traumatic events experienced during conflict and displacement. The programme improves conditions for learning through mobilization of a child’s support network of caregivers, teachers and counsellors to assess and address the level of mental and psychological trauma faced by children. In 2021, UNHCR has strengthened the capacity of teachers and members of community structures in refugee and IDP hosting areas of the three countries by organizing training sessions dedicated to the psychosocial support (PSS) of students. Psychosocial support was also provided on an individual basis for cases requiring child protection interventions. UNICEF has broadly taken a multi-sectoral approach to providing psychosocial support to children in the Sahel, across education, child protection and nutrition activities in particular. Moving forward, there will be an increasing drive to consider this within the broader consideration of mental health as a foundation for resilience and learning. As part of NRC BLP Program, an assessment has been conducted, in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali aiming to measure promoters and barriers for learning before and after interventions.
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children in early childhood to develop healthy brains, bodies, and lives. While countries in East Asia and the Pacific have made substantial progress in investing in early childhood development (ECD), services supporting the development and learning of young children will likely suffer more than other education levels as they remain closed or in limited duration for fear of children contracting COVID-19. This publication has been developed based on LACRO’s publication and adapted to suit the East Asia and the Pacific regional needs and context. It is intended for UNICEF country offices in the region to support their role in providing technical assistance to government partners and other organizations. The publication provides guidelines for reopening of services for young children aged 2 years up until the official primary school entry, either 5 or 6 years, and their families. It also includes a checklist to conduct rapid analysis of the services’ conditions and designing plans for a safe reopening.
The short- and long-term impact of the Covid-19 crisis on children’s education, wellbeing, and future productivity is profound. Almost two years after schools began closing in most countries across the world, governments need to take urgent steps to limit the damage.
In April 2021, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) initiated phase 2 of its Real-Time Assessment (RTA) of UNICEF’s response to COVID-19 across the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The second phase of this exercise aimed to provide more in-depth analysis and emerging best practices and lessons through qualitative data gathered from four case study countries (Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa and South Sudan). The assessment focused on three thematic areas: COVID-19 vaccine supply and rollout, COVID-19 vaccine demand promotion, and Safe return to school of children
UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.
Read the latest quarterly digest on children and disabilities.
The second digest discussed children and violence during the pandemic.
The first digest covers children and youth mental health under COVID-19.
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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response
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