Some countries are starting to reopen schools as others develop plans to do so following widespread and extended closures due to COVID-19. Using data from two surveys and 164 countries, this research brief describes the educational strategies countries are putting into place, or plan to, in order to mitigate learning impacts of extended school closures, particularly for the most vulnerable children. In addition, it highlights emerging good practices.
The initial impression that paediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection is uncommon and generally mild has been replaced by a more nuanced understanding of infectious manifestations in children and adolescents across low-, middle-, and high-income countries and by demographic structure, with recognition of a widening disease spectrum. Critical knowledge gaps, especially in low- and middle-income countries remain, that have significant public policy and programme implications. Insufficient data disaggregated by age, geography and race/ethnicity are hindering efforts to fully assess prevalence of infection and disease in children and adolescents and their role in transmission. Potential biologic differences in susceptibility to infection and between children and adults need to be assessed. Determination of mother-to-child SARS-CoV-2 transmission during pregnancy or peripartum requires appropriate samples obtained with proper timing, lacking in most studies. Finally, predictors of disease progression, morbidity and mortality in children need to be determined particularly as the pandemic moves to low- and middle-income countries, where poor nutritional and health conditions and other vulnerabilities are more frequent among children than in higher-income settings. Countries, UN agencies, public health communities, donors and academia need to coordinate the efforts and work collectively to close the data and knowledge gaps in all countries (high-, middle- and low-income) for better evidence to guide policy and programme decision-making for children and COVID-19 disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on societies, globally. To help contain the spread of the disease, schools around the world have closed, affecting 1.6 billion learners – approximately 91 per cent of the world’s enrolled students. Governments and education stakeholders have responded swiftly to continue children’s learning, using various delivery channels including digital tools, TV/radio-based teaching and take-home packages for parent or carer-guided education.
However, the massive scale of school closures has laid bare the uneven distribution of the technology
needed to facilitate remote learning. It has also highlighted the lack of preparedness and low resilience of systems to support teachers, facilitators and parents/caregivers in the successful and safe use of
technology for learning.
Using data on access to technology from household surveys (MICS and DHS) and information on national education responses to school closures gathered from UNICEF education staff in over 120 countries, this brief explores potential promising practices for equitable remote learning.
Experience with urban social assistance programmes is still limited. Many of the existing urban programmes are extensions or duplicates of rural programmes, but urban-sensitive social protection needs to reflect the distinct vulnerabilities of the urban poor. Furthermore, applying a child lens requires identifying and addressing the specific risks and multiple deprivations that are experienced by half of urban children in developing countries. As a result, designing social assistance for urban contexts faces challenges such as accurately targeting the poor (given the spatial geography of urban poverty) and setting appropriate payment levels (given the high and variable costs of urban living). Geographic targeting (e.g. informal settlements), proxy means testing (if urban-sensitive) and categorical targeting (e.g. street children) are popular mechanisms in urban areas, but community-based targeting is often inappropriate (because of urban social fragmentation) while self-targeting can be unethical (e.g. where wages below market rates are paid in public works projects) and might contradict rights-based approaches. These are relevant challenges to address when designing urban social protection programmes. We apply these reflections to Ghana. The country is a relevant case study because it is growing and urbanizing rapidly. But as the result of urbanization, urban poverty and deprivations are rising even though national poverty rates have halved. Anti-poverty policies and social protection interventions remain biased towards the rural poor. The ‘urbanization of poverty’ in Ghana has created problems such as overcrowded housing, limited access to sanitation, and outbreaks of communicable diseases. This paper provides guidance on the critical questions to ask to design in Ghana a successful urban social protection programme with a child lens.
Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Jose Cuesta; Jaideep Gupte; Luigi Peter Ragno; Keetie Roelen; Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Tayllor Spadafora
Geospatial technologies have transformed the way we visualize and understand social phenomena and physical environments. There are significant advantages in using these technologies and data however, their use also presents ethical dilemmas such as privacy and security concerns as well as the potential for stigma and discrimination resulting from being associated with particular locations. Therefore, the use of geospatial technologies and resulting data needs to be critically assessed through an ethical lens prior to implementation of programmes, analyses or partnerships. This paper examines the benefits, risks and ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using geospatial technologies. It is supplemented by a checklist that may be used as a practical tool to support reflection on the ethical use of geospatial technologies.
Geospatial technologies have transformed the way we visualize and understand situations. They are used to acquire, manipulate, store and visualize geographical information, including information on where individuals, groups and infrastructure are located in time and space. For development and humanitarian based organizations like UNICEF, the value of these technologies includes the ability to collect and process real-time information from places that are hard to reach or navigate such as dense forest, conflict zones, or where environmental disasters are occurring or have occurred. This brief provides an overview of the critical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using geospatial technologies. It is supplemented by a checklist that may be used to support reflection on the ethical use of geospatial technologies. This brief is based on a more in-depth Innocenti Discussion Paper which provides further guidance and tools.
We rely on a unique precrisis baseline and five-year follow-up to investigate the effects of emergency school feeding and general food distribution (GFD) on children’s schooling during conflict in Mali. We estimate programme impact on child enrolment, absenteeism and attainment by combining difference in differences with propensity score matching. School feeding led to increases in enrolment by 11 percentage points and to about an additional half-year of completed schooling. Attendance among boys residing in households receiving GFD, however, declined by about 20 per cent over the comparison group. Disaggregating by conflict intensity showed that receipt of any programme led to rises in enrolment mostly in high-intensity conflict areas and that the negative effects of GFD on attendance were also concentrated in the most affected areas. Conversely, school feeding mostly raised attainment among children residing in areas not in the immediate vicinity of the conflict. Programme receipt triggered adjustments in child labour. Thus, school feeding led to lower participation and time spent in work among girls, while GFD raised children’s labour, particularly among boys. The educational implications of food assistance should be considered in planning humanitarian responses to bridge the gap between emergency assistance and development by promoting children’s education.
The rise of social protection into the limelight of social policy has opened up space for understanding how it can act as a key interface between states and citizens. This paper rethinks social protection through the lens of citizenship. It considers how the design and implementation of social protection can be shifted away from discretionary and technocratic forms, to forms which stimulate vulnerable citizens to make justice-based claims for their rights and demand accountability for the realization of those rights. It puts forward a conceptual framework for social protection with three modalities through which citizens can be engaged: as shapers and makers; as users and choosers; and as passive consumers.
Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Nikhil Wilmink; Richard de Groot; Tayllor Spadafora
The broad-ranging benefits of cash transfers are now widely recognized. However, the evidence base highlights that they often fall short in achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning outcomes and morbidity. In recognition of these limitations, several ‘cash plus’ initiatives have been introduced, whereby cash transfers are combined with one or more types of complementary support. This paper aims to identify key factors for successful implementation of these increasingly popular ‘cash plus’ programmes, based on (i) a review of the emerging evidence base of ‘cash plus’ interventions and (ii) an examination of three case studies, namely, Chile Solidario in Chile, IN-SCT in Ethiopia and LEAP in Ghana. The analysis was guided by a conceptual framework proposing a menu of ‘cash plus’ components. The assessment of three case studies indicated that effective implementation of ‘cash plus’ components has indeed contributed to greater impacts of the respective programmes. Such initiatives have thereby addressed some of the non-financial and structural barriers that poor people face and have reinforced the positive effects of cash transfer programmes. In design of such programmes, further attention should be paid to the constraints faced by the most vulnerable and how such constraints can be overcome. We conclude with recommendations regarding the provision of complementary support and cross-sectoral linkages based on lessons learned from the case studies. More research is still needed on the impact of the many variations of ‘cash plus’ programming, including evidence on the comparative roles of individual ‘plus’ components, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour pathways which influence these impacts.
Keetie Roelen; Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Bruno Martorano; Tia Palermo; Luigi Peter Ragno