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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
SPOTLIGHT

Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 lockdowns have significantly disrupted the daily lives of children and adolescents, with increased time at home, online learning and limited physical social interaction. This report seeks to understand the immediate effects on their mental health. Covering more than 130,000 children and adolescents across 22 countries, the evidence shows increased stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increased alcohol and substance use, and  externalizing behavioural problems. Children and adolescents also reported positive coping strategies, resilience, social connectedness through digital media, more family time, and relief from academic stress. Factors such as demographics, relationships and pre-existing conditions are critical. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations.
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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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Quality of Childcare and Pre-Primary Education: How do we measure it?
Quality of Childcare and Pre-Primary Education: How do we measure it?
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Early childhood development is a driving force for sustainable development due to its multiplier effects not only on children but also on the community and society at large. Access to ECEC alone is insufficient for achieving positive child outcomes – it must also be of high quality. This Brief aims to summarize the key points of ongoing debate on this issue, and outline some of the challenges faced by high-income countries. A step towards a more holistic monitoring of ECEC would be to develop a coherent national strategy that recognizes diversity while addressing disparities; to respond to the needs of both child and family through strong partnerships with parents and ECE practitioners; and to apply measurement tools that capture a child’s engagement rather than test readiness.

How Inequalities Develop through Childhood: Life course evidence from the Young Lives cohort study
How Inequalities Develop through Childhood: Life course evidence from the Young Lives cohort study
Published: 2015 Innocenti Discussion Papers
This paper contributes longitudinal research evidence on these issues, notably: the impact of structural inequalities on children’s development within households and communities; the ways access to health, education and other key services may reduce or amplify inequalities; and especially evidence on the ways that children’s developmental trajectories diverge from early in life, through to early adulthood.
Is there Catch-Up Growth? Evidence from Three Continents
Is there Catch-Up Growth? Evidence from Three Continents
Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
The ability to correct childhood malnutrition, or for children to display ‘catch-up growth’, has important population-level implications for economic and social development. According to most recent estimates, over one third of all children under the age of five in developing countries suffer from some form of nutritional deficiency, with approximately 27% classified as underweight, 31% exhibiting stunting and 10% exhibiting wasting. We contribute to the catch-up growth debate by presenting results from three widely varying population based samples using identical statistical techniques, controlling for endogeneity of lagged health in several different ways, and measuring height in z-scores. Our estimates for these three different populations indicate that while previous health does not track future health perfectly, there is still significant persistence in health status for young children. These estimates do not account for household health-related behaviour.
Understanding Governance of Early Childhood Development and Education Systems and Services in Low-Income Countries
Understanding Governance of Early Childhood Development and Education Systems and Services in Low-Income Countries
Published: 2013 Innocenti Working Papers
Over the past decade, early childhood development and education (ECDE) has received increasing attention. This has led to an influx of scientific, macroeconomic, and rights-based evidence, supporting the importance of equitably implementing quality ECDE programmes and services. Despite the increase in evidence, young children in the developing world still bear the greatest burden of poverty, disease, violence, and risk factors. Recent research suggests that equitable access to quality early childhood services (ECS) can reduce the impact of risk factors and improve outcomes.
Child Drowning: Evidence for a newly recognized cause of child mortality in low and middle income countries in Asia
Child Drowning: Evidence for a newly recognized cause of child mortality in low and middle income countries in Asia
Published: 2012 Innocenti Working Papers
Drowning is a leading cause of death among children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia, but current data greatly underestimate mortality due to drowning. This is due to the way drowning data is collected, classified and reported as well as the difficulty in correcting and adjusting the data. The sum of all the biases and uncertainties has masked the fact that drowning is a leading cause of child death in LMICs in Asia. Cost-effective, affordable and sustainable interventions appropriate for LMICs are available to address this newly recognized and significant killer of children. Large numbers of these deaths could be prevented annually if these drowning interventions were included in current country programmes. When implemented at national scale and as an integral part of country programmes, the prevention of these drowning deaths, which mostly occur in early childhood, would result in a rapid decrease in early childhood mortality.
Good Governance of Early Childhood Development Programmes in Developing Countries: The need for a comprehensive monitoring system
Good Governance of Early Childhood Development Programmes in Developing Countries: The need for a comprehensive monitoring system
Published: 2010 Innocenti Discussion Papers
There is need for a holistic, comprehensive ECD monitoring system that covers the multiple facets (i.e. education, health, social protection and the social and economical context in which the child is born) of public and private ECD interventions in a country. Such a system is essential for ensuring that all children can reap the benefits of ECD. It serves as a means of support and oversight for monitoring the performance and planning of ECD policies and programmes in developing countries. The paper highlights the importance of comprehensive ECD monitoring for making evidence-based decisions, and discusses practical issues to take into consideration when developing such a system. One of the first steps is deciding what to monitor through the selection of a limited number of valid and measurable indicators that are aligned to policy and programme goals. In this respect the capacity of the government system should be thoroughly assessed, including 1) the identification and evaluation of existing administrative and other data sources; 2) a training needs analysis of the administrators who will operate the monitoring system to allow for strengthening their skills and prepare them for their future duties; and 3) consideration of the long-term costs of operating a monitoring system in relation to the (projected) available funds, in order to ensure the sustainability of the system.
Routine Data Collection and Monitoring of Health Services Relating to Early Childhood Development: A two-nation review study
Routine Data Collection and Monitoring of Health Services Relating to Early Childhood Development: A two-nation review study
Published: 2009 Innocenti Discussion Papers
Monitoring of health services can serve two major functions: providing information for performance management as well as for evidence-based policy-making. The means by which monitoring is carried out and the balance that is struck between these functions vary according to the situation of different countries. This paper reviews monitoring processes and the availability of data relating to early childhood development in the cases of Germany and the United Kingdom. The discussion centres on pre-requisites for successful routine data collection: a national framework, a national database and making data available publicly.
La educación durante la primera infancia en México: expansión, mejora de la calidad, y reforma curricular
La educación durante la primera infancia en México: expansión, mejora de la calidad, y reforma curricular
Published: 2008 Innocenti Working Papers
Las investigaciones recogidas en cientos de estudios demuestran los beneficios que proporcionan la educación y los cuidados de calidad durante la primera infancia para el aprendizaje posterior del niño, su éxito escolar y su desarrollo social. Habiendo reconocido el valor de ofrecer oportunidades educativas al niño desde los primeros momentos de su vida, muchos países han extendido la educación y los cuidados a la primera infancia durante los últimos años. México consituye un caso interesante, en el que durante los últimos cinco años se han extendido la educación y los cuidados a la primera infancia, así como las iniciativas encaminadas a mejorar la calidad y a reformar el currículo nacional de los preescolares. Este documento examina tres iniciativas de política educativa que se llevaron a cabo en México entre 2000 y 2006: la expansión de la educación preescolar, la mejora de la calidad y la reforma curricular.
Early Childhood Services in the OECD Countries: Review of the literature and current policy in the early childhood field
Early Childhood Services in the OECD Countries: Review of the literature and current policy in the early childhood field

AUTHOR(S)
John Bennett

Published: 2008 Innocenti Working Papers
The aim of this publication is to provide a review of the literature and current policies of early childhood education and care in the economically most advanced countries of the world. The introductory chapter provides some basic definitions: what is meant by 'early childhood services' both in the narrow sense of care and education services for young children (family day care, childcare centres, pre-primary educational services, integrated services, etc.) and in the wider sense of services supporting the holistic development of young children. Subsequent chapters address: the rights and well-being of young children; the economic and social context of children's services; state investment in early childhood services. Chapter 2 addresses the question of the rights and well-being of young children. Chapter 3 explores the economic and social context of children's services, and seek to explain the contemporary focus on the upbringing and education of young children. Chapter 4 provides a rationale for substantial state investment in early childhood services. Chapter 5 recalls briefly the promise that participation in high-quality early childhood services holds for the individual child and at a wider level, for society as a whole. A short conclusion proposes a dynamic social market model that brings together the dynamism and choice that market approaches can present with the strong investment, effective control and equity in access that public systems have traditionally offered in several countries.
The Child Care Transition: A league table of early childhood education and care in economically advanced countries
The Child Care Transition: A league table of early childhood education and care in economically advanced countries

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2008 Innocenti Report Card
A great change is coming over childhood in the world's richest countries. Today's rising generation is the first in which a majority are spending a large part of early childhood in some form of out-of-home child care. At the same time, neuroscientific research is demonstrating that loving, stable, secure, and stimulating relationships with caregivers in the earliest months and years of life are critical for every aspect of a child’s development. Taken together, these two developments confront public and policymakers in OECD countries with urgent questions. Whether the child care transition will represent an advance or a setback for today's children and tomorrow's world will depend on the response.
La transition en cours dans la garde et l’éducation de l’enfant. Tableau de classement des services de garde et d’éducation des jeunes enfants dans les pays économiquement avancés
La transition en cours dans la garde et l’éducation de l’enfant. Tableau de classement des services de garde et d’éducation des jeunes enfants dans les pays économiquement avancés

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2008 Innocenti Report Card
La génération montante d’aujourd’hui est la première dont la majorité passe une grande partie de la petite enfance dans un type de structure de garde extérieure au foyer. Parallèlement, la recherche neuroscientifique démontre l’importance capitale, pour tous les aspects du développement de l’enfant, de l’établissement de rapports aimants, stables, sécurisants et stimulants avec les personnes qui s’occupent d’enfants au cours des premiers mois et années. Considérés ensemble, ces deux éléments obligent l’opinion publique et les décideurs politiques de l’OCDE à faire face à des questions pressantes. C’est en fonction de leurs réponses que la transition en cours dans la garde et l’éducation de l’enfant se traduira, pour les enfants d’aujourd’hui et ceux de demain, par une avancée ou un revers.
Come cambia la cura dell’infanzia. Un quadro comparativo dei servizi educativi e della cura per la prima infanzia nei paesi economicamente avanzati
Come cambia la cura dell’infanzia. Un quadro comparativo dei servizi educativi e della cura per la prima infanzia nei paesi economicamente avanzati

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2008 Innocenti Report Card
Un grande cambiamento è in corso per l’infanzia nei paesi più ricchi del mondo. La maggioranza della generazione adesso in fase di crescita è la prima a trascorrere gran parte della prima infanzia in strutture che se ne prendono cura fuori della propria casa. Allo stesso tempo, la ricerca sulle neuroscienze dimostra che un rapporto amorevole, stabile, sicuro e stimolante con le persone che si prendono cura del bambino nei primi mesi e anni di vita è fondamentale per ogni aspetto del suo sviluppo. Questi due fattori pongono domande urgenti alla opinione pubblica e ai responsabili delle politiche dei paesi OCSE. Se il cambiamento nella cura dei bambini rappresenterà un progresso o un’involuzione per i bambini di oggi e il mondo di domani dipenderà dalla risposta a tali domande.
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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
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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