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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning
SPOTLIGHT

What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning

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.
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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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Bringing Education to the Most Marginalized Girls in Nepal: Evidence from the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) programme Let Us Learn: Nepal research brief
Bringing Education to the Most Marginalized Girls in Nepal: Evidence from the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) programme Let Us Learn: Nepal research brief
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

This research brief provides a snapshot of Girls’ Access To Education (GATE), a non-formal education programme that aims to bring the most marginalized adolescent girls in Nepal into school. The nine-month programme provides out-of-school girls with the basic literacy, numeracy and life skills they need to enter and learn in formal schooling. The analysis draws on GATE monitoring data for 2018/19, covering 7,394 GATE beneficiaries in five districts of Nepal, and is combined with qualitative evidence including case studies and focus group discussions with former GATE participants conducted in 2019. The mixed-methods analysis finds that the GATE programme has been highly effective, with 95% completion of the programme by enrolled girls and 89% of girls making the successful transition to formal school.  Moreover, GATE graduates enrolled in Grades 3 to 5 in formal schools outperformed non-GATE girls enrolled in the same grades, even though GATE girls overwhelmingly had no prior formal school experience. Qualitative evidence reveals that poverty, caring responsibilities and parents’ traditional views may be important factors in explaining why GATE girls had never previously attended school. Despite this, GATE beneficiaries who were interviewed maintain a positive outlook on the future and have clear career goals. One of the recommendations stemming from this brief is to explore the feasibility of expanding GATE approaches to target out-of-school children in other contexts, as GATE has been a cost-effective solution in the context of Nepal.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 9 | Thematic area: Education | Tags: access to education, education, learning
Annual Report 2019
Annual Report 2019
Published: 2020 Miscellanea
2019 was a year of celebration and achievement for UNICEF Innocenti. It marked the research Centre’s 30th anniversary, which coincided with the 30th year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the global charter of children’s rights. And it was the 600th anniversary of our home, the Istituto degli Innocenti, perhaps the world’s oldest continuously operating institution dedicated to childcare. Throughout 2019, we celebrated several events with our Italian hosts – the Government of Italy, the Regione Toscana, the City of Florence and the Istituto degli Innocenti – to which we are all immensely grateful for their unstinting support over the past three decades. This Annual Report outlines some of our achievements in our key strategic workstreams of research generation, research facilitation, and convening and communication, during 2019.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 60
Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework
Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection: A conceptual framework
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

There is significant potential for social protection systems (including policies, programmes and institutions) to promote gender equality and transformative change as a core pre-condition for long-term and sustainable poverty reduction. There is also the potential of poverty reduction to promote long-term and sustained gender equality and transformative change. Recognising this, the Gender-Responsive Age-Sensitive Social Protection (GRASSP) research programme, led by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti (hereafter UNICEF Innocenti) seeks to strengthen the gender-responsiveness of social protection systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and support shifts long-term towards gender-transformational social protection work, by building a robust evidence base focused on ‘what works’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ to contribute to enhanced gender equality outcomes across the life course.

This working paper provides a concise narrative behind the graphic representation of the GRASSP conceptual framework. The framework delineates the conceptual linkages between gender (including gender risks, vulnerabilities, discrimination and inequalities, multidimensional deprivations affecting women and girls), and social protection. It proposes a systematic, holistic and integrated approach for conceptualising the intersections between gender and social protection, to achieve SDG1 (‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’) and SDG5 (‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’)1 through careful planning, design, implementation and evaluation of a gender-responsive social protection system.

The GRASSP conceptual framework builds on and expands existing conceptual and theoretical efforts focused on integrating a gender lens into public policy (see for instance Holmes and Jones 2013, GAGE Consortium 2017). Building on these earlier efforts, the GRASSP conceptual framework brings together several integrated aspects related to gender, social protection, and the life course.

Impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net on Child Labour and Education
Impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net on Child Labour and Education
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs
In the United Republic of Tanzania, nearly 30 per cent of children engage in child labour.1 About 30 per cent of children do not attend school and another 20 per cent combine school and work. Although state schools do not charge fees, households still face schooling costs, including for uniforms, shoes, books and school materials. With funding from the United States Department of Labor, researchers at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti examined whether the PSSN leads to improved schooling and reduced engagement in child labour.2 To do so, the research team combined a quantitative impact evaluation with a qualitative study involving children and caregivers.
How Do Cash Transfers Affect Child Work and Schooling? Surprising evidence from Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
How Do Cash Transfers Affect Child Work and Schooling? Surprising evidence from Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs
Cash transfers supplement household income, but can they also reduce child labour? With generous funding from the United States Department of Labor, researchers at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti evaluated the impact of three large-scale, government cash transfer programmes to answer this question.
Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life
Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

The COVID-19 crisis that has engulfed the world during 2020 challenges children’s education, care and well-being. Many parents struggle to balance their responsibilities for childcare and paid employment, with a disproportionate burden placed on women. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation of families had been described as ‘a global childcare crisis’.

It is estimated that over 35 million children under five years old are sometimes left without adult supervision, a factor often linked to economic pressures on parents to work. With the arrival of the pandemic, 99 per cent of the world’s 2.36 billion children found themselves in a country with some movement restrictions, including 60 per cent under some form of lockdown. This has made childcare an even greater challenge for parents.

Globally, the work of childcare is done predominantly by women. This includes mothers and also other female caregivers such as grandmothers, siblings and workers in the childcare sector. In 2018, 606 million working-age women considered themselves to be unavailable for employment or not seeking a job because of unpaid care work, compared to only 41 million men. This imbalance has major implications for women’s employment and income opportunities and for children’s development and well-being.

UNICEF has previously called for a set of four family-friendly policies for children in the early years, comprising paid parental leave; breastfeeding support; accessible, affordable and good-quality childcare; and child benefits. We have shown that even some of the world’s richest countries fare poorly in terms of these policies, which is a reflection of their policy priorities rather than available resources.

This brief takes a global perspective on one of these four aspects – childcare in the early years. In the current context of lockdown and school closures, lack of childcare is likely to be one of the worst affected services available to families. This paper paints a picture of current progress towards ensuring that all families have access to affordable and high-quality childcare, and considers the implications of the current COVID-19 crisis for childcare globally. We show how governments and employers can help parents to address the
global childcare crisis through paid parental leave, followed by accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare. COVID-19 economic recovery packages have, to date, directed the vast majority of resources to firms rather than to households. This can be changed through public provision of childcare, subsidies, social protection floors and tax incentives.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 11
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.

 

 

 

Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers

This paper provides an overview of the key issues drawn from the literature reviewed and suggests established and potential mitigation strategies that could improve ethical practices when involving children with disabilities in evidence generation activities (for a summary, see Appendix 1). More evidence generation activities with this group of children are urgently needed, and it is important that conventional and existing ethical practices used with children are further developed to embrace disability inclusion. This will encourage the realization of children’s right to participate and be heard, and ensure that policy and practice are informed by the perspectives and concerns of children with disabilities. Importantly, this approach can support a wider agenda for the greater inclusion in society of children with disabilities.

Brief: Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Brief: Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

This research brief details the main ethical challenges and corresponding mitigation strategies identified in the literature with regard to the ethical involvement of children with disabilities in evidence generation activities. The findings detailed in this summary brief are based on a rapid review of 57 relevant papers identified through an online search using a systematic approach and consultation with experts.

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 10 | Tags: ethics
Does COVID-19 Affect the Health of Children and Young People More Than We Thought? The case for disaggregated data to inform action
Does COVID-19 Affect the Health of Children and Young People More Than We Thought? The case for disaggregated data to inform action
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

Contrary to the current narrative, the risks of COVID-19 disease in children and young people depend largely on where individuals live and how vulnerable they are to disease and ill health.

It is commonly accepted, at least for now, that children and young people under 20 years of age have largely been spared the direct epidemiological effects on their own health and survival of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for COVID-19 disease. This narrative is based predominantly on early data from the countries first affected by the virus, notably China (Wuhan province) and Italy in early 2020, and also from other high-income countries (HICs) including the United States and some European nations. This narrative has conditioned the subsequent screening and testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus in children and young people under 20, which have been notably lower than for other age cohorts in many, but not all, countries. But demographic profiles differ widely between countries, and assumptions and narratives based on evidence taken from ageing societies, typical of HICs, may not hold for more youthful and growing populations, as illustrated by the contrast between the age-cohort profiles of COVID-19 cases for Italy and Kenya. For this reason, and given that the vast majority of the world’s children and young people live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and territories, we began to investigate the burden of COVID-19 cases among children and young people under 20 globally.

Cite this publication | Thematic area: Health
Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19
Study Protocol: 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 protocol details the aims, scope and methodology used for the rapid review titled: “Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19."

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 18 | Thematic area: Child Protection | Tags: COVID-19
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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.
Best of UNICEF Research 2021
Publication Publication

Best of UNICEF Research 2021

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 healthcare? 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.
Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia
Publication Publication

Vite a Colori: Esperienze, percezioni e opinioni di bambinə e ragazzə sulla pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia

Il rapporto Vite a Colori racconta le esperienze, percezioni ed opinioni di un gruppo di adolescenti sul primo anno di pandemia di Covid-19 in Italia cercando di comprendere le loro esperienze e punti di vista, attraverso le loro parole. La raccolta dati si è svolta tra febbraio e giugno 2021 con 114 partecipanti tra i 10 e i 19 anni, frequentanti le scuole superiori del primo e del secondo ciclo di 16 regioni italiane. Bambinɘ e ragazzɘ che si identificano come LGBTQI+, minori stranieri non accompagnati (MSNA) e adolescenti con background socioeconomico svantaggiato sono stati deliberatamente inclusi nel campione interessato dalla ricerca

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