search advanced search
UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
search menu

Beyond Masks

Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents
Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents

 

Publication series:
Innocenti Research Report

No. of pages: 16

Download the report

(PDF, 2.61 MB)

Abstract

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.

Available in:
English

More in this series: Innocenti Research Report

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.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 – Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 – Eastern and Southern Africa

The widespread school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the learning crisis for children living in Eastern and Southern Africa. The crisis has also shown the great need to develop resilient education systems that can provide learning when schools are forced to close. Understanding how to provide remote learning equitably utilizing multiple modalities and emphasizing low-tech solutions in Eastern and Southern Africa is critical given the great challenges facing the region in terms of electricity and connectivity access. This report provides a summary of lessons learned in the East and Southern Africa region from remote learning during COVID-19 and provides concrete recommendations on how to increase the resilience of education systems.
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia

When schools started closing their doors due to COVID-19, countries in Europe and Central Asia quickly provided alternative learning solutions for children to continue learning. More than 90 per cent of countries offered digital solutions to ensure that education activities could continue. However, lack of access to digital devices and a reliable internet connection excluded a significant amount of already marginalized children and threatened to widen the existing learning disparities. This report builds on existing evidence highlighting key lessons learned during the pandemic to promote learning for all during school closure and provides actionable policy recommendations on how to bridge the digital divide and build resilient education systems in Europe and Central Asia.