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

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.

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.

Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 4: Marginalized girls’ learning and COVID-19
Children and COVID-19 Research Library Quarterly Digest Issue 4: Marginalized girls’ learning and COVID-19
Published: 2022 Innocenti Digest

Progress towards SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – was already in jeopardy before COVID-19. The world was facing a learning crisis, with 48% of children unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of 10.

For the most marginalized children, the learning crisis was even more severe. In low-income countries, 94% of girls (and 93% of boys) were not able to read by the age of 10, compared with 7% of girls (and 8% of boys) in high-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing disparities to the detriment of the girls and boys who were already being left behind.

This digest spotlights 13 research papers, and summarizes lessons and evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized girls’ learning, drawing from UNICEF Innocenti’s Children and COVID-19 Research Library launched in 2020.

How Much Does Universal Digital Learning Cost?
How Much Does Universal Digital Learning Cost?

AUTHOR(S)
Haogen Yao; Mathieu Brossard; Suguru Mizunoya; Bassem Nasir; Patrick Walugembe; Rachel Cooper; Atif Rafique; Nicolas Reuge

Published: 2021 Policy Brief

COVID-19 school closures initially revealed more than 75% of children lacked access to critical digital learning opportunities. Three out of four were living in the poorest 40% of households. Digital learning is impossible without connectivity and electricity. However, in places like Chad, Malawi and Niger, the proportion of people with access to electricity is below 1 in 5. What efforts will ensure these children are not further left behind in future crises if schools are again closed? How much will universal access to digital learning cost? The answer is US$1.4 trillion.

This paper estimates the cost of universalizing digital learning by 2030, in alignment with the conceptual framework of the Reimagine Education initiative. It provides a rationale for cost assumptions; classifies costs into enabling digital learning and delivering digital learning; and, finally, discusses financing achievability by comparing the estimated costs with current spending in education and other sectors.

How much it will cost in your country? For a localized costing, download the National Guide Price Generator from the dropdown menu. 

What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning
What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning

AUTHOR(S)
Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk; Sabbiana Cunsolo; Victor Cebotari

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

This report explores how ‘core capacities’ – or cornerstones of more familiar concepts, such as life skills and competences – develop over the early part of the life course, and how they contribute to children’s personal well-being and development.

The report synthesizes the work of the Measuring What Matters project, and nine detailed working papers – covering the core capacities of ‘Discerning patterns’, ‘Embodying’, ‘Empathizing’, ‘Inquiring’, ‘Listening’, ‘Observing’, ‘Reflecting’, ‘Relaxing’ and ‘Sensing’ – that individually review the empirical evidence on each core capacity in the academic literature. Each working paper assesses the contribution of the core capacities and the perspectives from which they are applied – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – to children’s well-being and development, and the practice and policies applied by adults working with children in relation to each core capacity.

The purpose of the work is to assess how core capacities can improve the lives of children, and to understand the ways in which education systems and broader social systems can protect and promote these capacities. This project builds on the existing evidence base to understand better how children’s personal attributes (age and gender), and the world around the child, can promote the use of core capacities for the benefit of child well-being and to improve policies and practices for child development.

The aim of this work is to use this learning to contribute practical steps to improve the living and learning conditions for children globally – not just in school, not just at home, but in their daily lives, and as they grow into adulthood.

Best of UNICEF Research 2021
Best of UNICEF Research 2021
Published: 2021 Miscellanea

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 health care? 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.

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.

Investing in Teacher Capacity – The key to effective learning
Investing in Teacher Capacity – The key to effective learning

AUTHOR(S)
Renaud Comba

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 teachers’ capacity – 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.

School Principals in Highly Effective Schools – Who are they and which good practices do they adopt?
School Principals in Highly Effective Schools – Who are they and which good practices do they adopt?

AUTHOR(S)
Renaud Comba

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.

It’s Not Too Late to Act on Early Learning: Understanding and recovering from the impact of pre-primary education closures during COVID-19
It’s Not Too Late to Act on Early Learning: Understanding and recovering from the impact of pre-primary education closures during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Dita Nugroho; Youngkwang Jeon; Akito Kamei; Florencia Lopez Boo

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Briefs

This paper presents a new estimate that pre-primary school closures in 2020 may cost today’s young children US$1.6 trillion in lost earnings over their lifetimes. Children in middle-income countries will be most greatly affected. However, most low- and middle- income countries are leaving pre-primary education out of their responses to COVID-19. This paper also draws lessons from evaluations of accelerated, bridging and remedial programmes on how introducing or expanding these transition programmes in the early years can mitigate the long-term impact on learning from pre-primary school closures.

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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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