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Best of UNICEF Research 2021
SPOTLIGHT

Best of UNICEF Research 2021

Best of UNICEF Research showcases the most rigorous, innovative and impactful research produced by UNICEF offices worldwide. While evidence highlights emerging issues, it also informs decisions and provides policy and programme recommendations for governments and partners to improve children’s lives. This ninth edition brings together 11 powerful studies from around the world and across the five Strategic Goal Areas. How do South Asian youth feel about entering the world of work? What is the effect of climate-related hazards on access to healthcare? How has COVID-19 affected children and their families in the Republic of Moldova? With social and economic inequalities increasing and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals lagging, rigorous research – answers to these questions – has never mattered more.
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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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Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Gabon
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires au Gabon
Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

L'absentéisme des enseignants est un défi particulier affectant la qualité de l'éducation au Gabon. Des études antérieures suggèrent que les enseignants du primaire sont absents en moyenne 2 jours par mois, ce qui affecte directement les progrès éducatifs et l'apprentissage des enfants. Bien que le défi de l'absentéisme soit reconnu par les acteurs politiques nationaux comme l’un des problèmes les plus répandus dans le système éducatif du pays, les études sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques qui influencent l’assiduité des enseignants au Gabon restent rares. La pandémie de COVID-19 ne fera qu'exacerber les défis existants. L'étude Time to Teach (TTT) vise à combler ce manque de connaissances et à renforcer la base de preuves sur les différents types d'assiduité des enseignants du primaire et les facteurs qui y contribuent.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 49 | Thematic area: Education | Tags: education, gabon, primary schools, schools, teachers
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

In Rwanda, over 3.5 million children were estimated to be out of school in 2020 when the country closed all schools as a safety measure against the spread of COVID-19. The government quickly developed a national response plan and started the process of hiring teachers, constructing classrooms and training in-service teachers in remote-learning pedagogies. Prior to the lockdown, schools were already experiencing challenges, including low attendance rates. In the post-COVID-19 environment, learning losses are expected to be significant, especially on the acquisition of foundational skills, and will hinder the ministry's efforts to achieve the learning outcomes of its new competence-based curriculum. 

A Time to Teach study in 2020 in Rwanda found that low teacher attendance was a common problem in primary schools. This study seeks to support the Ministry of Education by providing a comprehensive understanding of secondary school teacher attendance in the country. It builds on findings from the primary schools' study, to understand how attendance challenges may be similar or different across education levels, and more importantly, how these can help inform teacher policy design and implementation. 

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 in West and Central Africa
Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19 in West and Central Africa
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

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. 

Time to Teach: Understanding teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Liberia
Time to Teach: Understanding teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in Liberia
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

In Liberia, recurring school absenteeism and post abandonment are considered critical obstacles to quality education. Although national political actors recognize absenteeism as a major impediment to quality education, studies on the factors influencing teacher attendance in the country, including national policies and practices at the community and school levels, remain scarce. Also, there is a lack of knowledge on the direct and indirect ways the coronavirus pandemic and the measures adopted to contain it impact primary school teachers. This Time to Teach study seeks to fill these knowledge gaps.

The report provides valuable insights into how the COVID-19 crisis may exacerbate existing education system challenges that affect teacher attendance and time on task. It also collects and strengthens the evidence base on the factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies. 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 48 | Thematic area: Education | Tags: education, liberia, primary schools, schools, teachers
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Mauritanie
Time to Teach: La fréquentation des enseignants et le temps d’enseignement dans les écoles primaires en Mauritanie
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

L'absentéisme des enseignants et le non-respect du temps scolaire constituent un obstacle persistant à l'apprentissage universel de qualité en République Islamique de Mauritanie. Cependant, les données vérifiées sur les facteurs, les politiques et les pratiques relatives à l'assiduité des enseignants en Mauritanie restent rares.  Dans l'environnement post-COVID-19, il y a raison de s'inquiéter du fait que l'ampleur des répercussions sociales et économiques de la pandémie aggrave davantage les défis existants au sein du système éducatif mauritanien.  L'étude Time to Teach cherche à combler ce manque de connaissances.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 42 | Thematic area: Education | Tags: primary education, schools, teachers
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

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.

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from remote learning during COVID-19
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures around the world, affecting almost 1.6 billion students. The effects of even short disruptions in a child’s schooling on their learning and well-being have been shown to be acute and long lasting. The capacities of education systems to respond to the crisis by delivering remote learning and support to children and families have been diverse yet uneven.

This report reviews the emerging evidence on remote learning throughout the global school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic to help guide decision-makers to build more effective, sustainable, and resilient education systems for current and future crises.

School Principals in Highly Effective Schools – Who are they and which good practices do they adopt?: Data Must Speak: Positive Deviance Research in Lao PDR
School Principals in Highly Effective Schools – Who are they and which good practices do they adopt?: Data Must Speak: Positive Deviance Research in Lao PDR
Published: 2021 Policy Brief

While the Government of Lao PDR, through the Ministry of Education and Sports and its development partners, has made steady progress in expanding access to quality education, many children still leave primary school with difficulties in reading and writing for their age. Despite this, there are ‘positive deviant’ schools that outperform other schools located in similar contexts and with an equivalent level of resources.

Data Must Speak (DMS) Positive Deviance research is a multi-staged mixed-method approach, co-created and co-implemented with Ministries of Education. It aims to generate knowledge about the positive deviant practices and behaviours of high performing schools. It also seeks to unravel practical lessons about ‘what works’ and how to scale grassroots solutions for national policymakers and the broader international community of education stakeholders.

This policy brief – focused on school principals in highly effective schools – is part of a series that presents key research findings of the DMS research quantitative stage in Lao PDR. More importantly, it aims to inform policy dialogue and decision-making in Lao PDR and other interested countries.

Lifting Barriers to Education During and After COVID-19: Improving education outcomes for migrant and refugee children in Latin America and the Caribbean
Lifting Barriers to Education During and After COVID-19: Improving education outcomes for migrant and refugee children in Latin America and the Caribbean
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

By the end of 2019, 4.8 million refugees and migrants had left Venezuela – making it the largest external displacement crisis in the region’s recent history. Of these, 1 in 4 was a child.

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, since November 2020, 137 million girls and boys are missing out on their education due to the prolonged closure of schools during COVID-19. The implications are troubling, especially for migrant and refugee children, for whom access to inclusive and equitable education remains a major challenge.

This study collates evidence from Latin America, the Caribbean and across the world to gain a better understanding of the multifaceted linkages between education and migration. It estimates gaps in educational outcomes; identifies structural barriers to education; and highlights promising practices to inform policy.

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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.
Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia
Publication Publication

Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia

Il rapporto Vite a Colori racconta le esperienze, percezioni ed opinioni di un gruppo di adolescenti sul primo anno di pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia cercando di comprendere le loro esperienze e punti di vista, attraverso le loro parole. La raccolta dati si è svolta tra febbraio e giugno 2021 con 114 partecipanti tra i 10 e i 19 anni, frequentanti le scuole superiori del primo e del secondo ciclo di 16 regioni italiane. Bambinɘ e ragazzɘ che si identificano come LGBTQI+, minori stranieri non accompagnati (MSNA) e adolescenti con background socioeconomico svantaggiato sono stati deliberatamente inclusi nel campione interessato dalla ricerca

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