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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
COVID-19 and the Looming Debt Crisis: Protecting and Transforming Social Spending for Inclusive Recoveries
SPOTLIGHT

COVID-19 and the Looming Debt Crisis: Protecting and Transforming Social Spending for Inclusive Recoveries

Compounding the COVID-19 pandemic is a looming debt crisis for low- and middle-income countries where a growing debt burden threatens to crowd out social spending for children. This policy brief explores whether the current support from the international community is enough to maintain spending on basic services during COVID-19. It highlights countries that are most at risk due to high levels of poverty, as well as those less likely to benefit from the G20 Debt Standstill (DSSI). It concludes that a new international debt restructuring architecture, which encompasses the needs of poorer countries, is crucial to protecting children’s rights in the wake of COVID-19.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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Impact Evaluation in Settings of Fragility and Humanitarian Emergency
Impact Evaluation in Settings of Fragility and Humanitarian Emergency
Published: 2021 Innocenti Discussion Papers

Despite the challenges involved in fragile and humanitarian settings, effective interventions demand rigorous impact evaluation and research. Such work in these settings is increasing, both in quality and quantity, and being used for programme implementation and decision-making.

This paper seeks to contribute to and catalyse efforts to implement rigorous impact evaluations and other rigorous empirical research in fragile and humanitarian settings. It describes what sets apart this type of research; identifies common challenges, opportunities, best practices, innovations and priorities; and shares some lessons that can improve practice, research implementation and uptake. Finally, it provides some reflections and recommendations on areas of agreement (and disagreement) between researchers and their commissioners and funding counterparts.

Investigating Risks and Opportunities for Children in a Digital World: A rapid review of the evidence on children’s internet use and outcomes
Investigating Risks and Opportunities for Children in a Digital World: A rapid review of the evidence on children’s internet use and outcomes
Published: 2021 Innocenti Discussion Papers

Children’s lives are increasingly mediated by digital technologies. Yet, when it comes to understanding the long-term effects of internet use and online experiences on their well-being, mental health or resilience, the best we can do is make an educated guess. Our need for this knowledge has become even more acute as internet use rises during COVID-19.

This report explores what has been learned from the latest research about children’s experiences and outcomes relating to the internet and digital technologies. It aims to inform policy-makers, educators, child-protection specialists, industry and parents on the best evidence, and it proposes a future research agenda.

COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South
COVID-19 and Children, in the North and in the South
Published: 2020 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper aims to document the likely direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in developed and developing countries. It also aims to identify potential urgent measures to alleviate such impacts on children. Thirty-three years after the UNICEF report, 'Adjustment with a Human Face', the authors warn of the effects of the pandemic which are likely to be considerable and comparable to the recession and debt crisis of the 1980s. The heavy costs for children can only be avoided with systematic and concerted efforts on the part of governments and the international community, to provide extensive financial and social support for the poor, and to invest in the health and education systems, in order to offset the negative impact of the virus-induced recession.
Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Gabrielle Berman

Published: 2020 Innocenti Discussion Papers

This paper identifies key ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation involving children during the mitigation stage of the pandemic (emergency phase), on subject matter relating to COVID-19 once the pandemic has been contained, and once containment policy measures, including lockdowns, have been lifted (post-emergency phase).

While the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis, with evidence generation activities raising critical ethical issues that have been captured in the literature and relevant guidelines, there are specificities relating to this emergency that must be considered when unpacking potential ethical issues.

Hence while ethical issues pertaining to evidence generation involving children in emergencies and humanitarian contexts are relevant and should be considered, there are factors that define this ‘special case’ that must be considered from the outset. These will inform the core ethical considerations that need to be addressed.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 18 | Thematic area: Ethical research | Tags: COVID-19 response
Towards a Child Rights-based Assessment Tool to Evaluate National Responses to Migrant and Refugee Children
Towards a Child Rights-based Assessment Tool to Evaluate National Responses to Migrant and Refugee Children

AUTHOR(S)
Kevin Byrne

Published: 2018 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper examines a range of tools, guidelines and formats available to monitor and evaluate various aspects of national responses to migrant children and argues for the need to integrate them into a single coherent, child focused, rights-based framework. Their current disparate application leaves gaps in the child’s protective environment and is not consistent with a holistic, child rights-based approach. Building on an analytical framework adopted by the Council of Europe in March 2018 to support a child-rights based approach by local and regional authorities to migrant and asylum-seeking children, the paper puts forward for consideration an integrated evaluation framework that incorporates and links existing practice models in order to ensure quality child-centred monitoring at each and every stage of the migration process.
The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners
The Long-term Effect of Humanitarian Emergencies on Adolescents: Existing evidence, gaps and considerations for research and practitioners
Published: 2018 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This short paper grew out of discussions at a two-day research workshop focused on famines and adolescents. It explores some of what we do and do not know about the impacts of humanitarian situations on adolescents’ lives. Adolescents and their specific capacities and vulnerabilities have tended to be overlooked in the design and implementation of humanitarian responses, including in social protection and further components of such  responses. This paper seeks to bring these questions to the attention of researchers, policy makers and practitioners in order to address identified priority gaps; build on existing knowledge; invest in better evidence generation; and include adolescents in research and response efforts in meaningful ways. Such improvements to humanitarian responses would assist in developing more inclusive efforts that consider all ages in the child’s life-course; aim for more sustainable well-being outcomes and help meet core commitments to children in these settings.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 20 | Thematic area: Adolescents | Tags: adolescents, famines, humanitarian emergencies
Ethical Considerations When Using Social Media for Evidence Generation
Ethical Considerations When Using Social Media for Evidence Generation
Published: 2018 Innocenti Discussion Papers

There are significant ethical implications in the adoption of technologies and the production and use of the resulting data for evidence generation. The potential benefits and opportunities need to be understood in conjunction with the potential risks and challenges. When using social media to directly engage children and their communities, or when establishing partnerships with these organizations for data collection and analysis, adoption of these technologies and their resultant data should not be exclusively driven by short-term necessity but also by the long-term needs of our younger partners. When engaging with social media and indeed most technology, thoughtfulness, reflection and ongoing interrogation is required. This paper examines the benefits, risks and ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation: (a) using social media platforms and (b) using third-party data collected and analysed by social media services. It is supplemented by practical tools to support reflection on the ethical use of social media platforms and social media data.

Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation
Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation
Published: 2018 Innocenti Discussion Papers

Geospatial technologies have transformed the way we visualize and understand social phenomena and physical environments. There are significant advantages in using these technologies and data however, their use also presents ethical dilemmas such as privacy and security concerns as well as the potential for stigma and discrimination resulting from being associated with particular locations. Therefore, the use of geospatial technologies and resulting data needs to be critically assessed through an ethical lens prior to implementation of programmes, analyses or partnerships. This paper examines the benefits, risks and ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using geospatial technologies. It is supplemented by a checklist that may be used as a practical tool to support reflection on the ethical use of geospatial technologies.

 

Child Privacy in the Age of Web 2.0 and 3.0: Challenges and opportunities for policy
Child Privacy in the Age of Web 2.0 and 3.0: Challenges and opportunities for policy
Published: 2017 Innocenti Discussion Papers

We live in an information society, where the flow of information in the virtual environment is unprecedented. Web 2.0 platforms – and recently Web 3.0 platforms and the Internet of Things (IoT) – represent an important step forward in enhancing the lives of both adults and children everywhere, by combining greater efficiencies with a wide availability of new tools that can boost individual creativity and collective production. This new environment has exposed adults and children to fresh challenges that deserve special attention, especially those surrounding privacy. The main objective of this paper is to address the challenges posed to child privacy online and the impact that these challenges might have on other rights such as freedom of expression, access to information and public participation. To do this, the paper first analyses the current (and foreseen) threats to child privacy online and the various approaches adopted by government and/or the private sector to tackle this issue. The paper also examines whether children’s perspectives and needs are considered in international debates on technology regulation, including in regard to the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. It then contextualizes the protection of privacy (and data protection) in relation to other fundamental rights in the online environment, arguing that in most cases this interaction is rather positive, with the enforcement of the right to privacy serving to protect other rights. The paper concludes by proposing some policy recommendations on how to better address the protection of children’s online privacy. These objectives are achieved through literature review and analysis of legal instruments.

HOW DOES THE TIME CHILDREN SPEND USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPACT THEIR MENTAL WELL-BEING, SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY? AN EVIDENCE-FOCUSED LITERATURE REVIEW
HOW DOES THE TIME CHILDREN SPEND USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPACT THEIR MENTAL WELL-BEING, SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY? AN EVIDENCE-FOCUSED LITERATURE REVIEW
Published: 2017 Innocenti Discussion Papers
Based on an evidence-focused literature review, the first part of this paper examines existing knowledge on how the time children spend using digital technology impacts their well-being across three dimensions; mental/psychological, social and physical. The evidence reviewed here is largely inconclusive with respect to impact on children’s physical activity, but indicates that digital technology seems to be beneficial for children’s social relationships. In terms of impact on children’s mental well-being, the most robust studies suggest that the relationship is U-shaped, where no use and excessive use can have a small negative impact on mental well-being, while moderate use can have a small positive impact. In the second part of the paper, the hypothetical idea of addiction to technology is introduced and scrutinized. This is followed by an overview of the hypothetical idea that digital technology might re-wire or hijack children’s brains; an assumption that is challenged by recent neuroscience evidence. In conclusion, considerable methodological limitations exist across the spectrum of research on the impact of digital technology on child well-being, including the majority of the studies on time use reviewed here, and those studies concerned with clinical or brain impacts. This prompts reconsideration of how research in this area is conducted. Finally, recommendations for strengthening research practices are offered.
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Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
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.

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