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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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Impact Evaluation in Settings of Fragility and Humanitarian Emergency
Impact Evaluation in Settings of Fragility and Humanitarian Emergency
Published: 2021 Innocenti Discussion Papers

Despite the challenges involved in fragile and humanitarian settings, effective interventions demand rigorous impact evaluation and research. Such work in these settings is increasing, both in quality and quantity, and being used for programme implementation and decision-making.

This paper seeks to contribute to and catalyse efforts to implement rigorous impact evaluations and other rigorous empirical research in fragile and humanitarian settings. It describes what sets apart this type of research; identifies common challenges, opportunities, best practices, innovations and priorities; and shares some lessons that can improve practice, research implementation and uptake. Finally, it provides some reflections and recommendations on areas of agreement (and disagreement) between researchers and their commissioners and funding counterparts.

Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme: A comprehensive summary of impacts
Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme: A comprehensive summary of impacts
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs

This brief provides a comprehensive summary of the main impacts and related policy implications generated by Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme between 2013 and 2015, including positive impacts on poverty, income multipliers, food security, productivity, education and health

An Evidence Gap Map on Adolescent Well-being in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A focus on the domains of protection, participation, and financial and material well-being. Study Protocol.
An Evidence Gap Map on Adolescent Well-being in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A focus on the domains of protection, participation, and financial and material well-being. Study Protocol.
Published: 2018 Miscellanea
The objective of this evidence gap map (EGM) is to provide an overview of the existing evidence on the effectiveness of interventions (at the macro, meso and micro levels) aimed at improving adolescent well-being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Its focus is on the outcome domains of protection, participation and financial and material well-being. Outcomes relating to the enabling environment for adolescents are also included to capture the contextual influences that might affect the well-being of adolescents.
 
This study protocol outlines the criteria used to consider studies for inclusion in the EGM. Only studies that are explicitly impact evaluations or systematic reviews were included and the target study population were adolescents aged 10 to 19 years. The geographic scope were LMICs as defined by the World Bank and all relevant studies written in English, French and Spanish, and published from the year 2000 onwards were included. The research team employed long-form or short-form search strategies, with search terms formulated around the proposed population, intervention, outcome, geographical focus and research design categories. The interactive EGM is available online at www.unicef-irc.org/evidence-gap-map. The EGM report is available at https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/931/
Bridging the Gap to Understand Effective Interventions for Adolescent Well-being: An evidence gap map on protection, participation, and financial and material well-being in low- and middle-income countries
Bridging the Gap to Understand Effective Interventions for Adolescent Well-being: An evidence gap map on protection, participation, and financial and material well-being in low- and middle-income countries
Published: 2018 Miscellanea

This evidence gap map (EGM) collates the evidence base for adolescent interventions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with a focus on the outcome domains of protection, participation and financial and material well-being. Outcomes relating to the enabling environment for adolescents are also included to capture the contextual influences that might affect the well-being of adolescents. The EGM contains 74 studies (71 impact evaluations and 3 systematic reviews) of evaluated interventions targeting adolescents in LMICs. Most of the evidence is on financial support to individuals and households, where interventions predominantly include conditional cash transfers, and studies frequently evaluate their impacts on child labour and child marriage outcomes. The second largest evidence cluster relates to the impacts of socio-emotional learning and life skills on adolescent protection, particularly protection-related attitudes, skills and knowledge, while psychosocial support is the third most frequently appearing intervention. At the group and community level, the largest bodies of evidence are on financial literacy and savings schemes, and norm change interventions.

The largest evidence gaps are at the policy and institutional level, the enabling environment for adolescent well-being, and the use of and access to information and communication technology (ICT) by adolescents. While coverage of gender is prominent in the literature, only one intervention specifically targets boys and men to promote attitudes towards gender equity. Recommendations for future primary research and synthesis are made. The interactive EGM is available online at www.unicef-irc.org/evidence-gap-map.

Best of UNICEF Research 2016
Best of UNICEF Research 2016
Published: 2016 Miscellanea

The Best of UNICEF competition identifies a number of studies that are assessed to be of particular merit on a number of criteria: in terms of the relevance and interest of the topic and findings; the rigour of their methodology; and the potential for impact, including lessons that could inform programmes elsewhere, or the capacity for replication or scaling up. Issues covered include health, education, WASH, child protection and social inclusion. There was also a strong emphasis on qualitative and mixed methods research, demonstrating the value of rigorous qualitative studies. A number of studies selected as of special merit in 2016 involved research directly with children and there is an increasing recognition that children’s perspectives are of primary importance. There was also a welcome attention to gender in some of the studies, including research with both adolescent boys and girls.

Overview of Impact Evaluation: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 1
Overview of Impact Evaluation: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 1

AUTHOR(S)
Patricia Rogers

Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Impact evaluation provides information about the impacts produced by an intervention. It can be undertaken of a programme or a policy, or upstream work – such as capacity building, policy advocacy and support for an enabling environment. This goes beyond looking only at goals and objectives to also examine unintended impacts. This brief provides an overview of the different elements of impact evaluation and options for planning and managing its various stages.
Evaluative Criteria: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 3
Evaluative Criteria: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 3

AUTHOR(S)
Greet Peersman

Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Evaluation relies on a combination of facts and values to judge the merit of an intervention. Evaluative criteria specify the values that will be used in an evaluation. While evaluative criteria can be used in different types of evaluations, this brief specifically addresses their use in impact evaluations.
Evaluative Reasoning: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 4
Evaluative Reasoning: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 4

AUTHOR(S)
E. Jane Davidson

Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Decision makers frequently need evaluation to help them work out what to do to build on strengths and address weaknesses. To do so, they must know not only what the strengths and weaknesses are, but also which are the most important or serious, and how well or poorly the programme or policy is performing on them. Evaluative reasoning is the process of synthesizing the answers to lower- and mid-level evaluation questions into defensible judgements that directly answer the key evaluation questions.
Participatory Approaches: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 5
Participatory Approaches: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 5

AUTHOR(S)
Irene Guijt

Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Using participatory approaches in impact evaluation means involving stakeholders, particularly the participants in a programme or those affected by a given policy, in specific aspects of the evaluation process. The term covers a wide range of different types of participation and stakeholders can be involved at any stage of the impact evaluation process, including: its design, data collection, analysis, reporting and managing the study.
Overview: Data Collection and Analysis Methods in Impact Evaluation: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 10
Overview: Data Collection and Analysis Methods in Impact Evaluation: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 10

AUTHOR(S)
Greet Peersman

Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Impact evaluations need to go beyond assessing the size of the effects (i.e., the average impact) to identify for whom and in what ways a programme or policy has been successful. What constitutes ‘success’ and how the data will be analysed and synthesized to answer the specific key evaluation questions (KEQs) must be considered up front as data collection should be geared towards the mix of evidence needed to make appropriate judgements about the programme or policy. This brief provides an overview of the issues involved in choosing and using data collection and analysis methods for impact evaluations.
Interviewing: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 12
Interviewing: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 12
Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Interviews are easy to do badly and hard to do well - good planning, adequate time and appropriate skills are required. The type of interview should be carefully chosen to suit the situation rather than choosing a type of interview (such as focus groups) simply because it is commonly used. Interviews with children raise particular ethical issues that need to be carefully considered and fully addressed. This brief outlines key issues to consider in planning interviews for impact evaluation, taking into account the purpose of the evaluation, how interview data aim to complement other data for assessing impact, and the availability of resources.
Modelling: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 13
Modelling: Methodological Briefs - Impact Evaluation No. 13
Published: 2014 Methodological Briefs
Modelling is an approach to impact evaluation which uses mathematical models to describe social and economic relationships and to infer causality from an intervention to an outcome, and/or between an outcome and its determinants. Models with more than one equation are most valuable, as they allow for both direct and indirect effects and also two-way relationships to be captured. Models can be used to examine the impact of a programme or policy by introducing them as an exogenous change in some of the variables, parameters or equations.
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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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