Estimates of internet access for children in Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania

Estimates of internet access for children in Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Briefs

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed internet connectivity from an important asset to an essential piece of infrastructure. Yet two thirds of the world’s school-aged children still have no fixed internet connection at home. This lack of connectivity limits their ability to go online; prevents them from participating and competing in the modern economy; and risks isolating them from the world.

This research brief presents new data on children’s internet access in five countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. It provides estimates of the frequency with which children use the internet and assesses the most common barriers they face. Finally, it explores the potential consequences of leaving these bottlenecks unaddressed.

Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 5

Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 5

Published: 2022 Innocenti Digest

The introduction of COVID-19 vaccination has been unprecedented in scope and challenges. While the risk of severe disease is lower in children and adolescents, vaccination significantly reduces the risk of severe complications in young people. Not only does vaccination protect children and adolescents from severe illness and death on an individual level, but increasing COVID-19 vaccination coverage among young people is critical to curbing overall community transmission of the disease at the population level.

Drawing on the UNICEF Innocenti Children and COVID-19 Research Library, this issue of the digest summarizes evidence of factors influencing caregiver decision-making attitudes and behaviours regarding vaccinating children and adolescents against COVID-19. Eleven research papers are spotlighted  along with some practical tools to support caregiver decision-making and enhance vaccine uptake. The evidence, insights and lessons from these studies can help policymakers and health practitioners better support caregivers to make important decisions related to the health of their children and communities.

Let Us Learn: Making education work for the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal

Let Us Learn: Making education work for the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

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

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

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

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.

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

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

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

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.

Shortfalls in Social Spending in Low- and Middle-income Countries: COVID-19 and Shrinking Finance for Social Spending

Shortfalls in Social Spending in Low- and Middle-income Countries: COVID-19 and Shrinking Finance for Social Spending

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

Financing quality social services will require increased public investment and greater mobilization of both domestic and international resources in the post-COVID era. Currently, low- and middle-income countries invest, on average, just one third of their total government expenditure in social spending on education, health and social protection. However, the fiscal space to enhance social spending remains constrained in many parts of the world. Given the scale of the challenge facing many countries, a renewed focus on financing social spending is needed to address widening inequalities.

This policy brief is the second in a series that assesses key issues affecting social spending as part of UNICEF’s work on Public Finance for Children. The brief examines how recent trends are impacting on the financing available for, and directed to, social spending in low- and middle-income countries in different regions, using secondary analysis of public expenditure data collected by international organizations. It calculates median spending figures by region and income group, using World Bank regional aggregates for domestic spending.

 

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – East Asia and the Pacific

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – East Asia and the Pacific

AUTHOR(S)
Youngkwang Jeon; Akihiro Fushimi; Dominic Koeppl; Thomas Dreesen

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

COVID-19 school closures in East Asia and the Pacific threaten to widen existing learning inequities and increase the number of children out of school. During the pandemic, governments rapidly deployed remote learning strategies, ranging from paper-based take-home materials to digital platforms. However, lack of electricity – critical to connectivity – remains a key obstacle for the region, particularly in rural areas. Therefore, while digital learning platforms were offered by most Southeast Asian countries, take-up was low.  

A combination of modalities – including mobile phone-based learning strategies – and collaboration with a range of non-governmental education stakeholders have the potential to enhance the reach of remote learning and to make it more engaging for students. Lessons from the regional implementation of these strategies emphasize the importance of research to understand the needs of students, educators and parents and the impact of remote learning, especially in low-resource contexts. 

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – South Asia

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – South Asia

AUTHOR(S)
Radhika Nagesh; Frank van Cappelle; Vidur Chopra; Thomas Dreesen

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

COVID-19 school closures in South Asia lasted longer than in any other region. To mitigate subsequent effects, governments and education actors in South Asia provided a range of remote learning modalities.  

This report presents evidence on the reach and effectiveness of these remote learning strategies through a meta-analysis of studies from the region. Large differences in students’ access to connectivity and devices show that high-tech remote learning modalities did not reach all students. Lessons learned indicate that the effectiveness of one-way or low-tech modalities can be enhanced through increased engagement and support from educators. Teachers, parents and caregivers must be supported to help children learn remotely, especially in cases where they must rely on these low-tech remote learning modalities. Formative assessments are needed to understand the scale of lost learning and target responses to remediate this learning loss when schools reopen.   

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – Latin America and the Caribbean

Reopening With Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning During COVID-19 – Latin America and the Caribbean

AUTHOR(S)
Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa; Marco Valenza; Vincenzo Placco; Thomas Dreesen

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

The implementation of remote learning in Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 school closures confirmed that the divide in access to electricity and technology remained a major hurdle for governments across the region to serve all children. School closures risk widening existing learning gaps as private schools were more prepared to use technology for remote learning and children from wealthier households received more support at home while schools were closed. As countries in the region reopen their schools, it is vital that governments incorporate key lessons learned to improve the resilience and equity of the education systems.

This report presents evidence on remote learning during the COVID-19 school closures in Latin America and the Caribbean to help guide decision-makers to build more effective, sustainable and resilient education systems for current and future crises.

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

AUTHOR(S)
Spogmai Akseer; Ximena Jativa

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. 

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.

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