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Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
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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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Beyond Masks: A Policy Panel Discussion
Event Event

Beyond Masks: A Policy Panel Discussion

UNICEF Innocenti’s new report – Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents – offers a comprehensive picture of the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, and its implications for children and adolescents. The report examines evidence from the current crisis, examines past health crises such as HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola to provide insights into the current one, and proposes proven and promising solutions.
Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence
Blog Blog

Protecting children from harm during COVID-19 needs evidence

Although much of the world is focused on the “silver lining” that COVID-19 does not appear to severely impact children’s health, UNICEF is raising the alarm about the potential damage of the hidden impacts on children’s health as well as the indirect socio-economic effects of the fallout from the pandemic. In response, UNICEF Innocenti is generating evidence to assist and inform UNICEF’s COVID-19 work. This blog is about a research conducted by UNICEF on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection, including topics such as violence against children, child labour and child marriage.
COVID-19 & Children
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COVID-19 & Children

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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

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.

A Lifeline at Risk: COVID-19, Remittances and Children
A Lifeline at Risk: COVID-19, Remittances and Children
Published: 2020 Miscellanea
Millions of children around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, live in households that receive money and other forms of support from a family member who has moved abroad, or to another part of the same country, to work. This form of assistance, or ‘remittances’, can alleviate household poverty and is often a key support for children’s development. In times of global economic uncertainty, however, remittances can be an unstable source of income for families. The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting migrant workers’ job security, making it more difficult to send remittances. At the same time, families receiving remittances are facing their own economic and health challenges, meaning that the continuation of remittances is vital to keep them from slipping into poverty. This briefing paper outlines the potential risks of reduction in remittances due to the pandemic for children in households receiving remittances and what can be done to minimize these risks.
COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss
COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

While remote learning measures are essential for mitigating the short-term and long-term consequences of COVID-19 school closures, little is known about their impact on and effectiveness for learning.

This working paper contributes to filling this gap by: 1. Exploring how disrupted schooling may affect foundational learning skills, using data from MICS6 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys - round 6) in 2017–2019; 2. Examining how countries are delivering and monitoring remote learning based on data from the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank’s National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures survey; and 3. Presenting promising key practices for the effective delivery and monitoring of remote learning.

Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report
Discussions around the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and its impacts and costs are moving swiftly from health concerns to economic and social concerns. The ways in which countries are dealing with COVID-19 itself, through social lockdowns and school closures, are expected to have wide-ranging social and economic costs and governments have responded with rapid implementation of fiscal stimulus and social protection reforms.

COVID-19 is a global health crisis, with severe economic consequences, impacting countries and continents in waves, and therefore is – with the exception of the Spanish Flu in 1918 – without a recent comparator. Necessarily this means that experience with, and evidence for, dealing with such a crisis is limited.

Acknowledging that health, economic, and social crises can rapidly become a crisis for children, this paper seeks to contribute evidence to understanding what the crisis means for children and for families with children in the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In particular, what governments and stakeholders should be looking for when seeking to protect children from the worst outcomes of the crisis. In doing so, this paper asks: Through which mechanisms can COVID-19 affect children in the region? What can we learn from previous crises about the potential effects on children and those who care for children? How is vulnerability to poverty and child well-being likely to be affected? Are initial government responses to the crisis likely to worsen or mitigate risks to children’s well-being? And how might future public policies be optimized in the short and medium term to protect child outcomes?
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

 

This rapid review collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19, is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

Research Brief: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Research Brief: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

 

This research brief summarizes the findings of a rapid review that collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19. is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child
Digital Connectivity During COVID-19: Access to vital information for every child
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

Children’s digital access – or lack thereof – during the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly determined whether children can continue their education, seek information, stay in touch with friends and family, and enjoy digital entertainment. With over 1.5 billion children across 190 countries confined to their homes, active video games or dance videos may also be their best chance to exercise. The rationale for closing digital divides has never been starker or more urgent.

This data-driven research brief explores three research questions. 1) How much do we know about children’s basic access to the internet across the globe? 2) Do children regularly use the internet to access health information? 3) Are children able to verify the truth of online information?

The brief analyzes survey data from the ITU World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators database, as well as household-survey data collected from approximately 22,000 children aged 12-16, generated by the collective work of the EU Kids Online and Global Kids Online research networks. It concludes with recommendations on how stakeholders can ensure that children’s health information needs are better supported during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

Balancing the need to collect data to support good decision-making versus the need to protect children from harm created through the collection of the data has never been more challenging than in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. As the pandemic progresses, we are also likely to see the emergence of more applications that link datasets as we seek to better understand the secondary impacts of the pandemic on children and their families.

This working paper explores the implications for privacy as the linking of datasets increases the likelihood that children will be identifiable and consequently, the opportunities for (sensitive) data profiling. It also frequently involves making data available to a broader set of users or data managers.

While it is recognized that reuse of unidentifiable data could potentially serve future public health responses and research, the nature of, access to and use of the data now and in future necessitate accountability, transparency and clear governance processes. It requires that these be in place from the outset. These are needed to ensure that data privacy is protected to the greatest degree possible and that the limitations to the use of these data are clearly articulated.

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19: General and child-specific ethical issues
Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19: General and child-specific ethical issues
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs
The response to COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. The consequent collation and use of personally identifiable data may however pose significant risks to children’s rights. This is compounded by the greater number and more varied players making decisions about how data, including children’s data, are used and how related risks are assessed and handled. This means that we need to establish clear governance processes for these tools and the data collection process and engage with a broader set of government and industry partners to ensure that children’s rights are not overlooked.
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This rapid review seeks to inform the initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters, which, like the COVID-19 pandemic, were 'rapid' in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors, without affecting governance systems. Evidence is also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, due to its impacts on adult mortality rates and surviving children.

The available evidence on the effects of economic policy and social protection responses is uneven across outcomes, regions, and type of policy response as a large body of literature focused on social assistance programmes. Future research on the COVID-19 pandemic can prioritize the voices of children and the marginalized, assess the effects of expansionary and austerity measures,  examine the role of design and implementation, social care services, pre-existing macro-level health, demographic and health conditions and the diverse regional health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The paper also provides key lessons for public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
Time to Teach: Combating Teacher Absenteeism in Rwanda
Video Video

Time to Teach: Combating Teacher Absenteeism in Rwanda

The evolving picture of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in children: critical knowledge gaps
Journal Article Journal Article

The evolving picture of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in children: critical knowledge gaps

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