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Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being
SPOTLIGHT

Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being

Report Card 17 explores how 43 OECD/EU countries are faring in providing healthy environments for children. Do children have clean water to drink? Do they have good-quality air to breathe? Are their homes free of lead and mould? How many children live in overcrowded homes? How many have access to green play spaces, safe from road traffic? Data show that a nation’s wealth does not guarantee a healthy environment. Far too many children are deprived of a healthy home, irreversibly damaging their current and future well-being. Beyond children’s immediate environments, over-consumption in some of the world’s richest countries is destroying children’s environments globally. This threatens both children worldwide and future generations. To provide all children with safe and healthy environments, governments, policymakers, businesses and all stakeholders are called to act on a set of policy recommendations.
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Analyse méthodologique pour la recherche Data Must Speak: Enseignements tirés de l’approche modèle positive, des sciences comportementales, de la recherche sur la mise en oeuvre et de la science de la mise à l’échelle
Analyse méthodologique pour la recherche Data Must Speak: Enseignements tirés de l’approche modèle positive, des sciences comportementales, de la recherche sur la mise en oeuvre et de la science de la mise à l’échelle

AUTHOR(S)
Lorena Levano Gavidia; Cirenia Chavez; Alvaro Fortin; Luca Maria Pesando; Renaud Comba

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

La pandémie a aggravé une crise de l'apprentissage et mis en péril les objectifs mondiaux. Et pourtant, même dans les contextes éducatifs les plus difficiles, certaines écoles obtiennent de meilleurs résultats que d'autres, situées dans des contextes similaires et avec un niveau de ressources équivalent. Pourquoi ces écoles exceptionnelles, connues sous le nom d'écoles "modèles positives", obtiennent-elles de meilleurs résultats en matière d'apprentissage, de rétention, d'équité et d'égalité des sexes ?

Data Must Speak (DMS) - une initiative mondiale mise en œuvre depuis 2014 - vise à combler les lacunes en matière de preuves tangibles pour atténuer la crise de l'apprentissage en utilisant les données existantes. Le volet recherche de DMS est cocréé avec les ministères de l'éducation. Il s'appuie sur des méthodes mixtes pour générer des connaissances, parallèlement à des enseignements pratiques sur ce qui fonctionne, pourquoi et comment mettre à l'échelle des solutions de terrain pour les décideurs politiques nationaux et la communauté internationale dans le domaine de l'éducation.

La recherche utilise des approches innovantes et complémentaires telles que l’approche modèle positive, des sciences comportementales, de la recherche sur la mise en œuvre et de la science de la mise à l'échelle pour identifier et mettre à l'échelle les comportements et les pratiques des écoles "modèles positives". Cette revue méthodologique présente les définitions, concepts et méthodologies clés de ces approches afin de guider et d'informer le développement et la mise en œuvre de la recherche DMS au niveau national. En s'appuyant sur des exemples existants tirés de la recherche sur l'éducation et d'autres domaines, cet revue propose également les meilleures pratiques et les leçons tirées de ces approches qui peuvent être utilisées comme référence commune et langage standard pour leurs applications futures.

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief: UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 2: Every child learns
Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief: UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021 Goal Area 2: Every child learns
Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Briefs

This research brief is one of a series of six briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Five of these briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan. A sixth special brief was added to focus specifically on COVID-19 and other epidemics and major crises. It is anticipated that the briefs will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.

A Methodological Review for the Data Must Speak Positive Deviance Research: Insights from Positive Deviance, Behavioural Sciences, Implementation Research and Scaling Science
A Methodological Review for the Data Must Speak Positive Deviance Research: Insights from Positive Deviance, Behavioural Sciences, Implementation Research and Scaling Science

AUTHOR(S)
Lorena Levano Gavidia; Cirenia Chavez; Alvaro Fortin; Luca Maria Pesando; Renaud Comba

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

The pandemic has aggravated a learning crisis and put global goals in jeopardy. And yet, even in the most challenging educational contexts, some schools outperform others located in similar contexts and with an equivalent level of resources. Why do these exceptional schools, known as ‘positive deviant’ schools, achieve improved outcomes in learning, retention, equity and gender equality?

Data Must Speak (DMS) – a global initiative implemented since 2014 – aims to address the evidence gaps to mitigate the learning crisis using existing data. DMS’s research component is co-created with ministries of education. It relies on mixed methods to generate knowledge, alongside practical lessons about ‘what works’, ‘why’ and ‘how to’ scale grassroots solutions for national policymakers and the broader international community of education stakeholders.

The research utilizes innovative and complementary approaches of positive deviance, behavioural sciences, implementation research and scaling science to identify and scale up behaviours and practices of ‘positive deviant’ schools. This methodological review presents key definitions, concepts and methodologies of those approaches to guide and inform the development and implementation of the DMS research at country level. By drawing on existing examples from research on education and other fields, this review also offers best practices and lessons learned from those approaches that can be used as a common reference and standard language for future application.

Augmenter la Représentation des Femmes Dans la Direction des Écoles: Une voie prometteuse pour améliorer l’apprentissage
Augmenter la Représentation des Femmes Dans la Direction des Écoles: Une voie prometteuse pour améliorer l’apprentissage
Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Briefs

De nouvelles études montrent une association positive entre les femmes dirigeantes d'école et les résultats des élèves. Certaines études suggèrent que les femmes dirigeantes scolaires sont plus susceptibles que leurs homologues masculins d'adopter des pratiques de gestion efficaces pouvant contribuer à l'amélioration des résultats. Cependant, les femmes restent largement sous-représentées aux postes de direction des écoles, en particulier dans les pays à revenu faible ou intermédiaire.

Cette publication présente de nouvelles connaissances sur l'association entre les femmes dirigeantes d'école et les résultats scolaires, et attire l'attention sur la sous-représentation des femmes dans les postes de direction d'école. Elle souligne la nécessité de poursuivre les recherches sur le genre et la direction des écoles afin d'identifier les politiques et les pratiques qui peuvent être mises en œuvre pour augmenter la représentation des femmes et étendre les pratiques de gestion de haute qualité adoptées par les femmes dirigeantes à un plus grand nombre d'écoles afin d'améliorer les résultats scolaires de tous les enfants.

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.

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Briefs

Emerging evidence shows a positive association between women school leaders and student performance. Some studies suggest women school leaders are more likely than their male counterparts to adopt effective management practices that may contribute to improved outcomes. However, women remain largely underrepresented in school leadership positions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

This brief presents emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes and draws attention to women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles. It highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women leaders to more schools to improve education outcomes for all children.

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.

Are Children Really Learning? Exploring foundational skills in the midst of a learning crisis
Are Children Really Learning? Exploring foundational skills in the midst of a learning crisis

AUTHOR(S)
Vidhya Ganesh; Robert Jenkins; Mark Hereward; Yanhong Zhang; Suguru Mizunoya; Peggy Kelly; Diogo Amaro; Sakshi Mishra; Garen Avanesian; Yixin Wang; Michelle Kaffenberger; Jason Silberstein; Silvia Beatriz Montoya; Mathieu Brossard

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were serious questions about whether children were actually learning. With widespread school closures and other disruptions to the education system brought about by the pandemic, the learning crisis has escalated to new heights. As the pandemic enters its third year, 23 countries – home to around 405 million schoolchildren – are yet to fully open schools, with many schoolchildren at risk of dropping out. Over the past two years nearly 147 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling, amounting to 2 trillion hours of lost learning. Children have to get back to the classroom, but changes are needed to ensure that they really learn, starting with the foundational basics of reading and numeracy. 

This report offers unique insight into the extent of the learning crisis by providing an in-depth picture of which children are most at risk of not acquiring foundational learning skills. The analysis of 32 low- and middle-income countries and territories uses newly released data to examine the equity perspectives of the crisis, exploring learning outcomes among different subgroups of children, with a focus on the most vulnerable. 
Cite this publication | Thematic area: Education | Tags: education
Where are we on Education Recovery? Taking the Global Pulse of a RAPID Response
Where are we on Education Recovery? Taking the Global Pulse of a RAPID Response

AUTHOR(S)
Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi; Robert Jenkins; Pragya Dewan; Nicolas Reuge; Haogen Yao; Anna Alejo; Aisling Falconer; Borhene Chakroun; Gwang-Chol Chang; João Pedro Azevedo; Alonso Sánchez; Stefania Giannini; Mathieu Brossard; Thomas Dreesen; Jessica Bergmann

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report
Two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, education has been seriously disrupted. In response to this crisis, the global priority remains to ensure every child is supported so they can return to school and catch up on lost learning.

Recognizing the need to accelerate education recovery with urgent, at-scale action, this joint report by UNICEF in partnership with UNESCO and the World Bank highlights staggering levels of learning loss globally and takes stock of the measures being taken by countries to mitigate learning losses as schools reopen. Based on a survey of 122 UNICEF country and fundraising offices administered in early March 2022, the report presents the importance of and progress made in five key actions for education recovery, the RAPID:

Reach every child and retain them in school;

Assess learning levels;

Prioritize teaching the fundamentals;

Increase catch-up learning and progress beyond what was lost; and

Develop psychosocial health and well-being so every child is ready to learn.
Cite this publication | Thematic area: Education | Tags: education
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Ghana
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Ghana

AUTHOR(S)
Spogmai Akseer; Ximena Jativa

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

Education has been a priority for Ghana since its independence, with current expenditures representing double the average for Africa and other developing nations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government aimed to enhance the quality of education and teacher attendance, including improving school infrastructure and providing textbooks and incentive packages to attract more teachers to rural and remote areas. However, the disruption of the pandemic forced school closures and economic consequences, threatening to push millions of vulnerable children out of the education system, widen inequalities and impede progress on the country’s development goals. The Ghana Time to Teach research project set out to capture teachers’ voices and provide a comprehensive understanding of teacher attendance in pre-tertiary schools in the country. Although data collection for this study was completed before the onset of COVID-19, it provides valuable insights into how the national education system can be strengthened to improve teacher motivation, attendance, and time on task. Detailed findings, analysis and policy implications can be found in the report.

Foundational literacy and numeracy in rural Afghanistan: Findings from a baseline learning assessment of accelerated learning centres
Foundational literacy and numeracy in rural Afghanistan: Findings from a baseline learning assessment of accelerated learning centres

AUTHOR(S)
Sophia Kan; Mirwais Fahez; Marco Valenza

Published: 2022 Innocenti Research Report

In Afghanistan, 93% of children cannot read a simple text by the age of 10. Education is not available to everyone, especially for girls and children in remote areas. A form of community-based education, called Accelerated Learning Centers (ALCs), can help close the distance barrier and meet the needs of out-of-school children and girls. In May 2021, an assessment of foundational literacy and numeracy skills of ALC students and nearby government school students was conducted. Results show that children at ALCs are learning at similar levels or better compared with children who attend government schools. This report provides insight into practices to improve education in rural areas in Afghanistan. 

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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence
Publication

Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence

Effective collaboration around knowledge management and organizational learning is a key contributor to improving the impact of international development work for the world’s most vulnerable people. But how can it be proven? With only 10 years from the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, nine of the world’s most influential agencies set out to show to the connection between the use of evidence, knowledge and learning and a better quality of human life. This book – a synthesis of stories, examples and insights that demonstrate where and how these practices have made a positive impact on development programming – is the result of the Multi-Donor Learning Partnership (MDLP), a collective effort to record the ways each of these organizations have leveraged intentional, systematic and resourced approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning in their work.
Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)
Publication

Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)

UNICEF has undertaken hundreds of gender evidence generation activities, supporting programmatic action, advocacy work and policymaking. The Gender Solutions project aims to draw together the knowledge, innovations and impacts of gender evidence work conducted by UNICEF offices since the first UNICEF Gender Action Plan was launched in 2014. A desk review identified over 700 gender-related UNICEF research, evaluation and data evidence generation activities since 2014. Twenty-five outputs were shortlisted because of their high quality and (potential for) impact and three were selected as Gender Evidence Award winners by an external review panel. By capturing the impact of this broad body of work, Gender Solutions aims to showcase UNICEF’s evidence investments, reward excellence and inform the rollout of the UNICEF Gender Policy 2021–2030 and Action Plan 2022–2025.
Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.

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