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Potential effects of COVID-19 school closures on foundational skills and Country responses for mitigating learning loss

AUTHOR(S)
Maria Carolina Alban Conto, Spogmai Akseer, Thomas Dreesen, Akito Kamei, Suguru Mizunoya, Annika Rigole

Published: 2021
This article investigates to what extent disrupted schooling and dropout affects children’s acquisition of foundational skills prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using household survey data from thirteen low- and lower-middle-income countries, we find that missing or dropping out of school is associated with lower reading and numeracy outcomes. Drawing on global surveys conducted during the pandemic, we find that countries’ remote learning responses are often inadequate to keep all children learning, avoid dropout, and mitigate the learning losses our findings predict, particularly for marginalized children and those at the pre-primary level.
Teacher Training and Textbook Distribution Improve Early Grade Reading: Evidence from Papua and West Papua.

AUTHOR(S)
Htet Thiha Zaw, Suguru Mizunoya, Dominic Richardson, Despina Karamperidou, Hiroyuki Hattori, Monika Oledzka-Nielsen

Published: 2021
While numerous studies evaluate the effectiveness of teacher training and textbook distribution programs, few look at the effects of training programs on vulnerable students, those at the lower end of academic performance. Addressing this gap is important to improve the efficiency of student learning and address the equity gaps in early education. Our study makes this point with two models of a program that combines teacher training with textbook distribution in Papua and West Papua Provinces of Indonesia. Between two waves of data collection in 2015 and 2017, we find that participation in the program is significantly associated with improvements in early grade reading ability, observing increases in reading scores (with or without adjustment for time spent in the program). We also find a significant decline in zero-scorers, that is, students who cannot read a single word correctly; students in program schools (under both models) are at least 80 percent less likely to score zero than their peers in control schools by 2017. Our approach highlights the importance of incorporating the equity perspective in program evaluation through an explicit focus on vulnerable students.
How Social Assistance Affects Subjective Wellbeing: Lessons from Kyrgyzstan

AUTHOR(S)
Jennifer Waidler, Franziska Gassmann, Bruno Martorano

Published: 2021
This paper investigates the effects of social assistance on subjective well-being looking at the case of Kyrgyzstan. For this purpose, we exploit recent changes in the design of social assistance and apply a difference in difference (DiD) method combined with an inverse probability weighting (IPW) technique. In contrast to the existing literature, we find that in the short-term, the receipt of social assistance benefits is associated with lower levels of subjective well-being. Our findings also reveal that participation in social assistance leads to some reduction in satisfaction regarding recipients’ own economic conditions. Moreover, we find that the negative effects on subjective well-being disappear for the oldest generations, which experienced the dissolution of the Soviet Union. By contrast, the effect is negative for the youth, who grew up in a new society where needing help is ultimately the responsibility of the individual citizen. For individuals with high trust in political institutions, the negative effect of state intervention does not hold, while it persists in case of low trust in political institutions.
Violence against children during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Amber Peterman, Amiya Bhatia, Alessandra Guedes, Camilla Fabbri, Ilan Cerna-Turoff, Ellen Turner, Michelle Lokot, Ajwang Warria, Sumnima Tuladhar, Clare Tanton, Louise Knight, Shelley Lees, Beniamino Cislaghi, Jaqueline Bhabha, Karen Devries

Published: 2021
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected children’s risk of violence in their homes, communities and online, and has compromised the ability of child protection systems to promptly detect and respond to cases of violence. However, the need to strengthen violence prevention and response services has received insufficient attention in national and global pandemic response and mitigation strategies. In this paper, we summarize the growing body of evidence on the links between the pandemic and violence against children. Drawing on the World Health Organization’s INSPIRE framework to end violence against children, we illustrate how the pandemic is affecting prevention and response efforts. For each of the seven INSPIRE strategies we identify how responses to the pandemic have changed children’s risk of violence. We offer ideas for how governments, policy-makers, and international and civil society organizations can address violence in the context of a protracted COVID-19 crisis. We conclude by highlighting how the current pandemic offers opportunities to improve existing child protection systems to address violence against children. We suggest enhanced multisectoral coordination across the health, education, law enforcement, housing, child and social protection sectors. Actions need to prioritize the primary prevention of violence and promote the central role of children and adolescents in decision-making and programme design processes. Finally, we stress the continued need for better data and evidence to inform violence prevention and response strategies that can be effective during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 730–738 | Tags: violence against children, COVID-19
Closing the know-do gap for child health: UNICEF’s experiences from embedding implementation research in child health and nutrition programming
Published: 2021

UNICEF operates in 190 countries and territories, where it advocates for the protection of children’s rights and helps meet children’s basic needs to reach their full potential. Embedded implementation research (IR) is an approach to health systems strengthening in which (a) generation and use of research is led by decision-makers and implementers; (b) local context, priorities, and system complexity are taken into account; and (c) research is an integrated and systematic part of decision-making and implementation. By addressing research questions of direct relevance to programs, embedded IR increases the likelihood of evidence-informed policies and programs, with the ultimate goal of improving child health and nutrition.

This paper presents UNICEF’s embedded IR approach, describes its application to challenges and lessons learned, and considers implications for future work.

From 2015, UNICEF has collaborated with global development partners (e.g. WHO, USAID), governments and research institutions to conduct embedded IR studies in over 25 high burden countries. These studies focused on a variety of programs, including immunization, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, birth registration, nutrition, and newborn and child health services in emergency settings. The studies also used a variety of methods, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods.

UNICEF has found that this systematically embedding research in programs to identify implementation barriers can address concerns of implementers in country programs and support action to improve implementation. In addition, it can be used to test innovations, in particular applicability of approaches for introduction and scaling of programs across different contexts (e.g., geographic, political, physical environment, social, economic, etc.). UNICEF aims to generate evidence as to what implementation strategies will lead to more effective programs and better outcomes for children, accounting for local context and complexity, and as prioritized by local service providers. The adaptation of implementation research theory and practice within a large, multi-sectoral program has shown positive results in UNICEF-supported programs for children and taking them to scale.

Linking poverty-targeted social protection and Community Based Health Insurance in Ethiopia: Enrolment, linkages, and gaps

AUTHOR(S)
Essa Chanie Mussa, Frank Otchere, Vincenzo Vinci, Abduljelil Reshad, Tia Palermo

Published: 2021

Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) has received increasing attention in low and middle-income countries as a pathway toward universal health coverage. In 2011, the government of Ethiopia piloted CBHI and subsequently integrated CBHI with its flagship social protection programme, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). We examined enrolment decisions by PSNP households, including, understanding of the programme, reasons for non-coverage, and factors associated with enrolment.

Current CBHI enrolment is higher among public works (PW) households (70.1 %) than Permanent Direct Support (PDS) clients (50.3 %). The most common reason for not enrolling in both PW and PDS households is cost. Results further show that the following characteristics are positively associated with CBHI enrolment: the number of children and working-age adults in the household, older household head, female household head, married household head, having been food insecure in the previous 12 months, heads having experienced illness in the past month, and increasing household wealth status.

While demographic factors are important in households’ decisions to enrol in CBHI, various mechanisms could be used to increase enrolment among vulnerable households such as PDS clients. In this regard, while better communication about CBHI could increase enrolment for some households, other poor and vulnerable households will need fee waivers to induce enrolment.

Impacts of health-related school closures on child protection outcomes: A review of evidence from past pandemics and epidemics and lessons learned for COVID-19
Published: 2021
Through a rapid review drawing on pandemics and epidemics with associated school closures, this article aims to understand first, the state of the evidence on impacts of school closures on select child protection outcomes and second, how governments have responded to school closures to protect the most vulnerable children. Only 21 studies out of 6433 reviewed met the inclusion criteria, with most studies exploring the effects of Ebola. While few studies were identified on harmful practices, a more robust evidence base was identified in regards to adolescent pregnancy, with studies pointing to its increase due to the epidemic or infection control measures, including school closures. The evidence base for studies exploring the impact on violence outcomes was limited, with sexual violence and exploitation located in a few studies on Ebola. Important lessons from this exercise can be applied to the COVID-19 response, particularly the inclusion of the most vulnerable children in programming, policy and further research.
More Evidence on the Impact of Government Social Protection in Sub Saharan Africa: Ghana, Malawi and Zimbabwe

AUTHOR(S)
Sudhanshu Handa, Frank Otchere, Paul Sirma

Published: 2021

We present evidence on the overall impacts of state-sponsored cash transfer programmes in sub-Saharan Africa, using data from three impact evaluations of government programmes. All three programmes were a key component of the poverty reduction strategy of the respective governments at the time of the evaluations. We show effects across nine broad domains including both protection, production and human development, using baseline and follow-up household surveys on treatment and control groups. We relate the pattern of impacts to programme design parameters to further understand the constraints faced by ultra-poor rural households.

All three programmes have strong effects on their primary objective—food security or food consumption, as well as on secondary objectives that include livelihood strengthening and children’s well-being. The largest and most consistent impacts occur in Malawi, where transfer values are in line with international best practice and payments were made regularly during the study period. All programmes show a positive income multiplier, with the multiplier largest in Malawi at 2.94.

The overall results across three national programmes add to the growing evidence from Africa that government unconditional cash transfers have important positive effects on households, that these effects are not limited to just food security, and that programme design features influence the pattern and size of impacts.

Modelling the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Violent Discipline Against Children

AUTHOR(S)
Camilla Fabbri, Dr Amiya Bhatia, Alessandra Guedes, Max Petzold, Claudia Cappa, Munkhbadar Jugder, Karen Devries

Published: 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic could increase violence against children at home. However, collecting empirical data on violence is challenging due to ethical, safety, and data quality concerns. This study estimated the anticipated effect of COVID-19 on violent discipline at home using multivariable predictive regression models.

Participants
Children aged 1–14 years and household members from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) conducted in Nigeria, Mongolia, and Suriname before the COVID-19 pandemic were included.

Methods
A conceptual model of how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect risk factors for violent discipline was developed. Country specific multivariable linear models were used to estimate the association between selected variables from MICS and a violent discipline score which captured the average combination of violent disciplinary methods used in the home. A review of the literature informed the development of quantitative assumptions about how COVID-19 would impact the selected variables under a “high restrictions” pandemic scenario, approximating conditions expected during a period of intense response measures, and a “lower restrictions” scenario with easing of COVID-19 restrictions but with sustained economic impacts. These assumptions were used to estimate changes in violent discipline scores.

Results
Under a “high restrictions” scenario there would be a 35%–46% increase in violent discipline scores in Nigeria, Mongolia and Suriname, and under a “lower restrictions” scenario there would be between a 4%–6% increase in violent discipline scores in these countries.

Conclusion
Policy makers need to plan for increases in violent discipline during successive waves of lockdowns.
Protocol: Impact of social protection on gender equality in low‐ and middle‐income countries: A systematic review of reviews
Published: 2021
This is the protocol for a Campbell review. The review aims to systematically collect, appraise, map and synthesise the evidence from systematic reviews on the differential gender impacts of social protection programmes in Low‐ and Middle‐Income Countries (LMICs). Therefore, it will answer the following questions: (1) What is known from systematic reviews on the gender‐differentiated impacts of social protection programmes in LMICs? (2) What is known from systematic reviews about the factors that determine these gender‐differentiated impacts? (3) What is known from existing systematic reviews about design and implementation features of social protection programmes and their association with gender outcomes?
11 - 20 of 120