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All children are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, often in multiple ways.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a universal crisis that has been devastating for children, families and communities, and shows no signs of abating as 2021 approaches. Examining the available evidence to understand the potential and actual societal effects on children and identifying viable evidence-based solutions are critical pathways to inform timely policy and programmatic responses. This Executive Summary of the UNICEF Innocenti report Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents provides a review of literature on the societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as past health and economic shocks, and possible solutions for mitigating impact at individual, household and societal levels.
The evidence base on the societal impacts of the pandemic is still nascent. For children, it is weaker still, largely due to the paucity of age-disaggregated data and the relatively low number of paediatric studies, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and especially beyond the biomedical sphere. Consequently, in order to best inform child-sensitive responses, we also examined evidence from prior epidemics and shocks to find insights to inform the current COVID-19 crisis. We looked at the prior societal impacts of previous infectious disease epidemics, including Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS and tuberculosis, and particularly HIV/AIDS where there is a very robust evidence base.
While there are promising signs of potential breakthroughs for vaccines, rapid non-invasive tests and treatment options – all of which will help to slow and address the impacts of the pandemic – it is likely to be a long time before these interventions are available to all children and families, and particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged. As a result, there is an urgent need to find scalable and cost-effective solutions to the continued and deepening impact of the COVID-19 crisis on them.
COVID-19 in Asia-Pacific has added to the multitude of risks that the region faces intersecting with natural hazards, conflicts and fragility. More than any previous disaster, the novel coronavirus has exposed underlying risks and vulnerabilities and challenged the traditional notion of risk. The impact on population groups with pre-existing vulnerabilities has been particularly severe especially where the health crisis has turned into a humanitarian and economic crisis. Moreover, national and local crises are currently exacerbated by the simultaneous sufferings of over 200 countries due to COVID-19. As the waves of the pandemic rise and fall, lessons from past disasters and epidemics can offer valuable insights for COVID-19 socioeconomic recovery. The study highlights learnings from past disasters and features 10 lessons and good practices from Asia-Pacific.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion school-age children in more than 190 countries. Already last year, 250 million school-age children being out of school, the world was facing a “learning crisis”. But now with the COVID-19 pandemic, this crisis could turn into a generational catastrophe. While many children will continue with their education once schools reopen, others may never return to school. Current estimates indicate that 24 million children will never return to the classroom and among those, disproportional number of girls. To avert this crisis, we need to reimagine how we deliver good quality and inclusive education to the world children. Among other things, this calls for urgent investments in school health and nutrition programmes and create the conditions for children to lead healthy lives. This also includes health and nutrition literacy offered through the curriculum and through counselling in the school health services which provides young people with knowledge, skills, values, culture and behaviours they need to lead healthy, empowered lives.
Adolescent girls' education contributes to a virtuous cycle that has proven positive impact on sustainable development. This report aims to examine progress and persistent gaps in our efforts to achieve gender equality in and through education since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, and to identify priority actions to be implemented within the Beijing+25 process, the Generation Equality Forum's Action Coalitions, and the Sustainable Development Goals. It shows the importance of adolescent girls' education and provides recommendations for collective action – in particular on three priority levers: Comprehensive sexuality education; the participation of adolescent girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); and the development of adolescent girls' leadership – drawing in particular on consultation processes among international organizations, civil society and adolescent girls in the run-up to the Forum. In all areas, specific levers, intersectoral approaches and multi-stakeholder partnerships are promoted.
This report presents a future-focused vision of education, which demands a major shift towards a culture of lifelong learning by 2050. It argues that the challenges humanity faces, those resulting from the climate crisis and from technological and demographic change, not to mention those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it has exacerbated, call for societies that understand themselves as learning societies and people who identify themselves as learners throughout their lives.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) joins together cities from across the world around the common objective of harnessing the potential of culture and creativity for a sustainable future. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people everywhere, and the culture sector has in many ways come to a standstill – cultural events, cinema, theatre and music performances have been cancelled, international tourism has largely ceased, restaurants and markets have closed, amongst others. This has not only impacted the sectors concerned, but also the public, which tends to turn to cultural products and services for education, entertainment, leisure, personal development, or social engagement. While this undoubtably has a serious impact on the economic viability of the cultural sector, the sector's fundamental creativity and ability to inspire social connection remains intact. The information submitted by over 90 Creative Cities from 44 UNESCO Member States shows how cities have come together to nurture new ideas and projects by connecting people to culture and creativity during the pandemic.
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.
Women and girls in Bangladesh are facing increased domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is highlighting pre-existing systemic barriers to legal recourse, protection, and social services. This crisis comes as Bangladesh marks the anniversaries of two landmark pieces of legislation on gender-based violence (GBV) and enters the final phase of its plan to build a society free of violence against women and children. Despite this, evidence shows that women and girls still face extreme levels of violence. It is also apparent that survivors of GBV have little or no access to support or legal recourse. This report draws on 50 interviews to document the obstacles to realizing the Bangladeshi government’s goal of a society without violence against women and children. It presents key findings, as well as recommendations on how to move forward.
Kristen Pisani‐Jacques Pisani‐Jacques
Sandeep Grover; Sandeep Kumar Goyal; Aseem Mehra (et al.)
This cross-sectional survey, conducted in India, aims to assess the impact of online classes on the children and parents/guardians. It was conducted during the period of 21st June 2020 to 17th
July 2020 among the guardians of children attending the online classes,
Prateek Kumar Panda; Lesa Dawman; Pragnya Panda (et al.)
J. Jay Miller; Chunling Niu; Shannon Moody
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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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response