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Despina Karamperidou

Education Specialist

Despina Karamperidou is an education specialist at the UNICEF Office of Research (Innocenti) where she coordinates the Time to Teach project. Despina’s research focuses on the performance of government institutions, the delivery of social services and the employment of qualitative research methods in humanitarian and developing contexts. Empirically, her work involves extensive field research and employs multiple qualitative data collection and interpretation methods. Despina holds a PhD in Political Science from the European University Institute (EUI) and master’s degrees from the EUI (M.Res. Political Science), the University of Bristol (M.Sc. Economics) and the University of Macedonia (M.A. Southeast European Politics). She has also received various research grants and completed research fellowships at Yale University, the George Mason University and the Central European University. From 2013 to 2015, she worked with the Robert Schuman Research Center for Advanced Studies on projects exploring migration and state capacity in the EU and beyond.

Publications

Unlocking Learning: The co-creation and effectiveness of a digital language learning course for refugees and migrants in Greece
Publication Publication

Unlocking Learning: The co-creation and effectiveness of a digital language learning course for refugees and migrants in Greece

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Puntland, State of Somalia
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Puntland, State of Somalia

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving national educational goals in many low- and middle-income countries, where teacher absence rates range from 3 to 27 per cent. While there is no data available from Puntland, State of Somalia (hereafter Puntland) on teacher absenteeism trends, regional cases suggest this is a chronic problem facing many schools throughout Africa, with an average of 15 to 45 per cent of all primary school teachers absent from the classroom on any given day. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education is beginning to increasingly prioritize the role of the teacher in the provision of effective time on task, and thus, has taken measures to deter teacher absenteeism. The Time to Teach (TTT) study seeks to address this knowledge gap. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct dimensions of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual; being in the classroom; and spending sufficient time on task while in the classroom.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Rwanda
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in in primary schools in Rwanda

Teacher absenteeism constitutes a significant barrier to achieving quality universal education. There is mounting evidence that teacher absenteeism is a challenge in low- and middle-income countries around the globe. The rates of teacher absence in these countries varies between 3 to 27 per cent. Within these average national prevalence rates, it is suspected that absenteeism may be higher in poorer, rural areas. Due to a dearth of research on teacher absenteeism, the consequences of this phenomenon are not fully evident. However, it is clear that countries are losing valuable resources they channelled into their education systems. This study moves beyond the conventional conception of teacher absenteeism—that of absence from school—to include other forms of absenteeism. The reasoning behind such a broad framing is that increasing evidence shows that school attendance does not necessarily equate to other forms of presence, including punctuality, being in the classroom, teaching for the proper duration, and teaching effectively.

Podcasts

A Conversation with our Education Team