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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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COVID-19’s impact on learning losses and learning inequality in Colombia

Emiliana Vegas

Institution: The Brookings Institute
Published: April 2022

This brief focuses on Colombia, which, like most countries globally, closed its schools in March of 2020. As throughout most of Latin America, Colombian schools remained closed for over a year, and they only began to gradually reopen in July 2021. This study explores the pandemic’s impact on student learning by analyzing trends in student achievement in national assessments from 2015 to 2019 and comparing them with student achievement in the same national assessments carried out in 2020 and 2021. It also explores the extent to which students in subnational territories (ETCs)—the equivalent to U.S. states, except some are certified by the national government to have more autonomy in spending than others—with different lengths of school closure periods experienced varying levels of learning losses.

Scaling education innovations for impact in low- and middle-income countries during COVID

Brad Olsen

Published: December 2021

Interest in scaling promising innovations to effect systemic change in education around the world has grown over the last decade. Scaling has become fashionable because the modern landscape of educational improvement is littered with short-term projects that temporarily succeeded only to later dissipate, isolated pursuits that never crossed into broad adoption, or specialized policy programs that floundered. Moving beyond 20th-century technical-rational implementation and acknowledging the mixed history of global development in low-and middle-income countries, newer iterations of scaling have sought to collaboratively embed promising education ideas and technologies into whole systems. Increased recognition of the interconnectedness of culture, governments, global development architecture, and the learning sciences has reframed education scaling as a holistic process of mutual adaptation and collective transformation. Lasting impact has replaced size or scope as the goal. As a result, this past decade of scaling and research has offered hope and possibility—even as it has also underscored the sometimes maddening complexity of this work.

Gender-responsive education in emergency in Nigeria: safeguarding girls' presents and futures

Edem Dorothy Ossai

Published: November 2021

This policy brief highlights ways that a gender-responsive perspective can be fully incorporated into planning, policy design, and implementation models for education in emergencies (EiE) in Nigeria, so that governments and education stakeholders can ensure that girls, like boys, can continue learning in times of crisis. Girls’ education is historically vulnerable to crises, which has led to concerns that the school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might reverse decades of advances in their schooling. The data discussed here were collected through qualitative research involving the Oyo State Ministry of Education, private-sector education partners of the government, broadcast stations, female and male upper secondary students, and members of community-based school governing boards and school management committees, as well as analysis of program content.

Unlocking young women’s economic potential through digital mentoring in India

Arundhuti Gupta

Published: November 2021

Imagine a room full of university students in India: young men and women sitting shoulder to shoulder in equal numbers. Fast forward 10 years: 8 out of those 10 men are likely to be active in the work force compared to only 3 out of 10 of the women. This example illustrates one of the great conundrums of India’s female labor force participation: a low and rapidly declining participation rate (even before the COVID-19 pandemic) despite economic growth and women’s increasing enrollment in tertiary education. This policy brief demonstrates how a digital mentoring policy and practice ecosystem could attract a range of stakeholders to support the transition of young Indian women from tertiary education into the labor force.

Improving children’s reading and math at large scale in Côte d’Ivoire: the story of scaling PEC

Molly Curtiss Wyss; Jenny Perlman Robinson

Published: October 2021
This report focuses on one of the scaling labs in Côte d’Ivoire—launched in 2019 in collaboration with Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) and the Ministry of National Education and Literacy (MENA). It centers around the government-led process of implementing, adapting, and scaling the Programme d’Enseignement Ciblé (PEC), a remedial education approach to improving early grade reading and math adapted from Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL). While the lab has focused on the experience of PEC to date, it serves as a case study into larger questions of how an evidence-based initiative can achieve progress toward national sustainable scale, with lessons that are transferable beyond PEC and Côte d’Ivoire.
Ed tech and educational opportunity during the COVID-19 school closures: a case study of Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Emiliana Vegas; Sheral Shah; Brian Fowler

Published: August 2021

The purpose of this study is to identify gaps and challenges in the use of education technology (ed tech) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu during COVID-19. Specifically, it investigated how use of ed tech differed by type of school (government or private), household socioeconomic status, and student gender—and how it changed during the COVID-19 school closures. Ultimately, it wanted to know how the use of ed tech may exacerbate or mitigate the unequal impact of school closures on student learning.

A historic shock to parental engagement in education: parent perspectives in Botswana during COVID-19

Rebecca Winthrop; Mahsa Ershadi; Noam Angrist (et al.)

Published: November 2020

When schools closed in Botswana on March 23, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, education administrators, teachers, and ultimately parents were faced with difficult decisions about how to help children continue learning without setting foot inside a classroom. In-person classes returned on June 17, 2020, though a second school closure occurred for two weeks beginning July 30 in greater Gaborone. Like almost all the other 189 countries that closed their schools, the education community in Botswana had to rapidly pivot to remote learning strategies. Policymakers, school leaders, educators and education nonprofits quickly began to innovate with new ways of helping children learn. Television and radio lessons are just some of the ways the Botswana government and its partners attempted to reach children.

Global education: how to transform school systems?

Emiliana Vegas; Rebecca Winthrop

Published: November 2020

Even before COVID-19 left as many as 1.5 billion students out of school in early 2020, there was a global consensus that education systems in too many countries were not delivering the quality education needed to ensure that all have the skills necessary to thrive. It is the poorest children across the globe who carry the heaviest burden, with pre-pandemic analysis estimating that 90 percent of children in low-income countries, 50 percent of children in middle-income countries, and 30 percent of children in high-income countries fail to master the basic secondary-level skills needed to thrive in work and life.

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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.


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Each quarterly thematic digest features the latest evidence drawn from the Children and COVID-19 Research Library on a particular topic of interest.
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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.