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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
SPOTLIGHT

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning

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.
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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.
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How subtle sensing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How subtle sensing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Adriano Linzarini; Sabbiana Cunsolo; Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

This study maps the empirical and theoretical evidence of children’s ability for ‘subtle sensing’ as a core capacity for life within the Learning for Well-Being Foundation’s theoretical framework and how it interacts with overall child development.

More specifically, this review aims to contribute to existing knowledge in three ways: (i) it adds to the evidence of ‘subtle sensing’ as a core capacity for children from a childhood development perspective, (ii) it assesses the interaction of ‘subtle sensing’ with other core capacities and with overall child wellbeing, and (iii) it looks at the development of ‘subtle sensing’ as a core capacity among significant adults in children’s lives (e.g., teachers, educators, parents).

While the available evidence is limited, the results show a possible role for intuition in science and science education, mathematics and morality.

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in secondary schools in Rwanda

AUTHOR(S)
Spogmai Akseer; Ximena Jativa

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

In Rwanda, over 3.5 million children were estimated to be out of school in 2020 when the country closed all schools as a safety measure against the spread of COVID-19. The government quickly developed a national response plan and started the process of hiring teachers, constructing classrooms and training in-service teachers in remote-learning pedagogies. Prior to the lockdown, schools were already experiencing challenges, including low attendance rates. In the post-COVID-19 environment, learning losses are expected to be significant, especially on the acquisition of foundational skills, and will hinder the ministry's efforts to achieve the learning outcomes of its new competence-based curriculum. 

A Time to Teach study in 2020 in Rwanda found that low teacher attendance was a common problem in primary schools. This study seeks to support the Ministry of Education by providing a comprehensive understanding of secondary school teacher attendance in the country. It builds on findings from the primary schools' study, to understand how attendance challenges may be similar or different across education levels, and more importantly, how these can help inform teacher policy design and implementation. 

How inquiring develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How inquiring develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

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

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

There are many studies on how children ask questions and how this capacity develops over time. Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s inquiry, and how does it interact with overall child well-being throughout childhood?

This paper maps evidence of the development of inquiry as a core capacity for children, studies the relationship between inquiring and child well-being and explores the Learning for Well-Being Foundation’s theoretical framework.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 38
Cash transfers – Past, present and future: Evidence and lessons learned from the Transfer Project
Cash transfers – Past, present and future: Evidence and lessons learned from the Transfer Project
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Briefs

Since 2009, the Transfer Project has generated rigorous evidence on the impacts of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa and has supported their expansion. The Transfer Project is a collaborative network comprising UNICEF (Innocenti, Regional and Country Offices), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, national governments and researchers. It aims to “provide evidence on the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes, inform the development and design of cash transfer policy and programmes, and promote learning across SSA on the design and implementation of research and evaluations on cash transfers”.

This brief summarizes the current evidence and lessons learned from the Transfer Project after more than a decade of research. It also introduces new frontiers of research.

Unlocking Learning: The implementation and effectiveness of digital learning for Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Unlocking Learning: The implementation and effectiveness of digital learning for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

AUTHOR(S)
Thomas Dreesen; Akito Kamei; Despina Karamperidou; Sara Abou Fakher; Lama Marji; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

Digital learning has the potential to offer interactive and personalized learning for children, in and out of school, including the most marginalized. However, depending on programme design, delivery, and use, digital learning can also exacerbate learning inequalities. This report presents tangible findings on the implementation and use of digital learning to improve outcomes for marginalized children in Lebanon. This report focuses on the UNICEF-Akelius Foundation Partnership and its implementation of a digital course used on tablets and mobile phones for language learning of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The report provides findings across three areas: First, the report investigates the digital course’s use in a blended learning environment where it was used on tablets by students as part of traditional face-to-face classroom instruction with teachers. Second, the analysis examines the transition to remote learning where the course was used on devices owned by the household, supported by teachers remotely. Third, the report estimates the effectiveness of the use of the digital course during this period of remote learning from August–November 2020 showing positive results for language and art competencies.


How discerning patterns develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How discerning patterns develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

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

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s discerning patterns and how does it interact with overall child well-being throughout childhood?

This review is a first attempt to map the existing theoretical and empirical literature about a possible core capacity for well-being: discerning patterns. The review of the literature will contribute to the understanding of discerning patterns as a core capacity for well-being within the Learning for Well-Being framework.

How enriching sensory awareness develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How enriching sensory awareness develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

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

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

‘Sensory awareness’ relates to the way humans perceive, distinguish and focus on the world through the senses.

 This report focuses on the enrichment of sensory processing as a core capacity. Enrichment is understood both as the child’s ability to broaden their own sensory capabilities and as the societal mechanisms to support and nurture sensory development during childhood and adolescence by various means and in various contexts, such as school and family environments.

This literature review maps empirical and evidence-based theoretical knowledge of the enrichment of children’s sensory awareness and how it interacts with overall child well-being throughout childhood.


Cite this publication | No. of pages: 25
How empathizing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How empathizing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

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

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

A growing body of evidence suggests that successful performance in school, work and life needs to be supported by a wide range of skills, the development of which should be nurtured and expanded throughout childhood.

This study maps the existing evidence of children’s ability related to ‘empathy’ as a ‘core capacity’. The aim is to use this learning to bring about real, positive and efficient changes in general policies and practices for child development. According to the Learning for Well-Being Foundation, empathy is part of a set of core capacities that are naturally present in children and can be cultivated through various practices across a child’s lifetime. From a developmental perspective, capacities such as empathy are commonly considered necessary for children to achieve optimal development and reach their full potential.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 26
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.

Being intentional about gender-transformative strategies: Reflections and Lessons for UNICEF's Gender and Policy Action Plan (2022-2025)
Being intentional about gender-transformative strategies: Reflections and Lessons for UNICEF's Gender and Policy Action Plan (2022-2025)
Published: 2021 Miscellanea

This compendium brings together six papers on new and emerging gender-related priorities developed by UNICEF staff and external partners, which engage with deepening understanding of the pressing gender challenges children and young people are facing today, and call for more ambitious actions to achieve gender-transformative change and accelerate progress towards gender equality for all children and adults. These papers inform the development of the UNICEF’s new Gender Policy 2021-2030 and Gender Action Plan (GAP) 2022-2025.

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.

The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery
The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report
The global disruption to education caused by the COVD-19 pandemic is without parallel and the effects on learning are severe. The crisis brought education systems across the world to a halt, with school closures affecting more than 1.6 billion learners. While nearly every country in the world offered remote learning opportunities for students, the quality and reach of such initiatives varied greatly and were at best partial substitutes for in-person learning. Now, 21 months later, schools remain closed for millions of children and youth, and millions more are at risk of never returning to education. Evidence of the detrimental impacts of school closures on children’s learning offer a harrowing reality: learning losses are substantial, with the most marginalized children and youth often disproportionately affected.

The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery charts a path out of the global education crisis and towards building more effective, equitable and resilient education systems.
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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
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.
Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation
Publication

Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation

Support from caregivers is critical for children’s learning both at home and at school. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of education systems globally created additional expectations for parents to support their children’s learning at home. This particularly affected the most marginalized children as the crises exacerbated already existing inequalities in education. This document introduces the approach and purpose of a set of resources to support the marginalized caregivers of children with disabilities with inclusive education. It presents lessons learned from proof-of-concept pilots in Armenia and Uzbekistan, followed by step-by-step guidelines on how to adopt and adapt the resources for education ministries and others who want to implement them in their education system.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia

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.

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