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.
The first years of a child’s life are critical to building the foundations of learning that help them succeed in school and beyond. Investment in early childhood education results in positive returns, not only for individual children, but also for building more efficient and effective education systems. Recent analysis estimated that every US dollar spent on pre-primary education results in US$9 of benefits to society.
This brief summarizes the key findings and observations from a report on the remote learning options – be it online, television, radio, paper- or mobile-based – that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was informed by the joint UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank survey of national education responses to COVID-19 and emerging good practices from 10 country case studies.
Dita Nugroho; Hsiao-Chen Lin; Ivelina Borisova; Ana Nieto; Maniza Ntekim
This paper examines the remote learning options that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights trends, gaps and emerging good practices that are supported by existing evidence.
Dita Nugroho; Hsiao-Chen Lin; Ivelina Borisova; Ana Nieto; Maniza Ntekim
This research brief is one of a series exploring the effects of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on how school closures affect children and the resiliency of education systems to respond to such disruptions and mitigate their effect.
What difference does a dollar a day make? For the poorest households in Jordan, many of whom escaped conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF Jordan’s Hajati humanitarian cash transfer programme helps them keep their children in school, fed and clothed – all for less than one dollar per day. In fact, cash transfers have the potential to touch on myriad of child and household well-being outcomes beyond food security and schooling.
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.
We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural families with children under age five – on height-for-age four years after programme
initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on several nutritional inputs including food expenditure and meal frequency. However, there was no effect on height-for-age. Production function
estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height. Health knowledge of mothers and health infrastructure in the study sites are also very poor. These factors plus the harsh
disease environment are too onerous to be overcome by the increases in food intake generated by the CT. In such settings, a stand-alone CT, even when it has large positive effects on food security, is
unlikely to have an impact on long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.
Averi Chakrabarti; Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo
There is increasing interest in the potential of cash transfers to facilitate safe transitions to adulthood among vulnerable youth in low-income settings. However, little evidence exists that analyses these linkages from at-scale government-run programmes. This brief summarizes the impacts of two government-run large-scale unconditional cash transfers on outcomes of early marriage and pregnancy among youth in Malawi and Zambia after approximately three years. Results indicate limited impacts on safe transitions for both males and females. However, the programmes were successful in reducing poverty and improving schooling outcomes—two main pathways for safe transitions as reported in the literature. Research implications include the need to study transitions over longer time periods, including tracking of youth as they transition out of study households. If reducing early marriage and pregnancy is among policy makers’ primary priorities, then dedicated programming via cash plus or services specifically targeted at addressing the needs of adolescents and youth should be considered.
Parenting interventions can dramatically reduce violence against children and improve a child’s future. Yet in the past, research has mainly focused on young children in high-income countries, and most of the research has only used quantitative methodology. By contrast, this qualitative study focuses on teenagers and their caregivers who attended a parenting programme in South Africa, contributing to a small but growing body of research on parent support programmes for teenagers in low and middle-income countries. The research examines the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme, which was developed and tested between 2012 and 2016 in South Africa. The main qualitative study was carried out in the last year (2015–2016) and is the focus of this paper. It complements a cluster randomized controlled trial. This qualitative study captures the experiences of teenagers and parents who attended the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in 2015. Importantly, the study gives an insight into how the caregivers and teenagers changed as a result of participating in the study. Findings show that both caregivers and teenagers valued the programme and their participation fostered better family relations and reduced violence at home. Their views are important for practitioners, programme implementers and researchers working in violence prevention and child and family welfare. More research is needed, however, to show whether these changes can be sustained.
This report summarizes research findings on the impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme piloted in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, between November 2014 and September 2016. The research consists of a qualitative study on the programme facilitators, conducted in 2014; and a ramdomized control trial with a complementary qualitative study, which was conducted between 2015 and 2016. The quantitative findings, detailed here, sum up responses provided by programme participants one month after programme completion. The participants also provided inputs five to nine months later; those inputs are published separately. Besides highlighting the impact of the parenting programme, the report describes the perceptions and experiences of participants and programme implementers. The report also discusses key policy and service delivery implications that need to be considered in taking the programme to scale in South Africa and beyond.