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Marco Valenza

Education Researcher (Innovations)

Marco joined the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in August 2020 to support the Let Us Learn programme and contribute to COVID-related research. Prior to joining the Office of Research - Innocenti, he coordinated impact evaluation work at the World Bank in Senegal and managed large-scale surveys with Innovations for Poverty Action in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast – working across different policy themes, including education and employment, private sector development and energy. Marco also has professional experience in qualitative research and design of monitoring systems, having served as evaluation consultant for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and as M&E Officer at the FAO in Benin. Marco holds a MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, having previously obtained a BSc in Economics from Bocconi University in Milan.

Publications

Let Us Learn: Making education work for the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal
Publication

Let Us Learn: Making education work for the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal

Learning remains largely out of reach for many of the most vulnerable children around the world. In low- and middle-income countries, an estimated 56% of children cannot read a simple text by the age of 10. This share is projected to rise to 70% after the pandemic. The school closures imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, coupled with an enduring tendency in low-income countries to allocate a limited share of the national education budget to the most vulnerable, are further widening inequalities in the global learning crisis landscape. The Let Us Learn (LUL) initiative implements innovative education programmes to improve learning for the most vulnerable children in five countries with high levels of out-of-school children: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal. This report documents the outcomes, lessons learned and recommendations based on the experience of the initiative across four types of learning programmes spanning the education lifecycle: (1) pre-primary education; (2) accelerated learning pathways; (3) programmes to reduce barriers to access and stay in formal school; and (4) vocational training.
Foundational literacy and numeracy in rural Afghanistan: Findings from a baseline learning assessment of accelerated learning centres
Publication

Foundational literacy and numeracy in rural Afghanistan: Findings from a baseline learning assessment of accelerated learning centres

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.
Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – Latin America and the Caribbean
Publication

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – Latin America and the Caribbean

The implementation of remote learning in Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 school closures confirmed that the divide in access to electricity and technology remained a major hurdle for governments across the region to serve all children. School closures risk widening existing learning gaps as private schools were more prepared to use technology for remote learning and children from wealthier households received more support at home while schools were closed. As countries in the region reopen their schools, it is vital that governments incorporate key lessons learned to improve the resilience and equity of the education systems. This report presents evidence on remote learning during the COVID-19 school closures in Latin America and the Caribbean to help guide decision-makers to build more effective, sustainable and resilient education systems for current and future crises.
Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 in West and Central Africa
Publication

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 in West and Central Africa

Countries in West and Central Africa strived to implement national responses to continue learning activities during school closures. These responses relied on a mix of channels, including online platforms, broadcast media, mobile phones and printed learning packs. Several barriers, however, still prevented many children and adolescents in the region from taking advantage of these opportunities, resulting in learning loss in a region where almost 50 per cent of children do not achieve minimum reading skills at the end of the primary cycle. This report builds on existing evidence to highlight key lessons learned in continuing education for all at times of mass school closures and provides actionable recommendations to build resilience into national education systems in view of potential future crises.