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There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.

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.

AUTHOR(S)

Cirenia Chavez; Annika Rigole; Purnima Gurung; Dilli Prasad Paudel; Bimala Manandhar
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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.

AUTHOR(S)

Dita Nugroho; Chiara Pasquini; Nicolas Reuge; Diogo Amaro
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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.

AUTHOR(S)

Priscilla Idele; David Anthony; Lynne M Mofenson; Jennifer Requejo; Danzhen You; Chewe Luo; Stefan Peterson
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This paper provides a framework for analyzing constraints that apply specifically to women, which theory suggests may have negative impacts on child outcomes (as well as on women). We classify women’s constraints into four dimensions: (i) low influence on household decisions, (ii) restrictions on mobility, (iii) domestic physical and psychological abuse, and (iv) limited information access. Each of these constraints are in principle determined within households. We test the impact of women’s constraints on child outcomes using nationally representative household Demographic and Health Survey data from India, including 53,030 mothers and 113,708 children, collected in 2015-16. We examine outcomes including nutrition, health, education, water quality, and sanitation. In our primary specification, outcomes are measured as multidimensional deprivations incorporating indicators for each of these deficiencies, utilizing a version of UNICEF’s Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis index. We identify causal impacts using a Lewbel specification and present an array of additional econometric strategies and robustness checks. We find that children of women who are subjected to domestic abuse, have low influence in decision making, and limited freedom of mobility are consistently more likely to be deprived, measured both multidimensionally and with separate indicators.

AUTHOR(S)

Alberto Posso; Stephen C. Smith; Lucia Ferrone
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There is broad agreement that internet access is important for children and provides them with many opportunities. Yet crucial questions remain about what we hope children will do online and if the opportunities provided are translating into clear benefits. What do children actually need to be able to benefit from the opportunities that the internet brings? Is there a gap between expectations and reality? The answers to these questions matter to: Governments striving to provide connectivity for families in homes, schools and communities; parents and educators who must overcome problems of cost, risk, or lack of skill, so that children may benefit from online opportunities; child rights advocates and practitioners who call for resources to empower and protect children online; and children themselves, many of whom want to take advantage of online opportunities for personal benefit.

AUTHOR(S)

Sonia Livingstone; Daniel Kardefelt Winther; Petar Kanchev; Patricio Cabello; Magdalena Claro; Patrick Burton; Joanne Phyfer
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Globally, studies have demonstrated that children in every society are affected by physical, sexual and emotional violence. The drive to both quantify and qualify violence through data and research has been powerful: discourse among policy makers is shifting from “this does not happen here” to “what is driving this?” and “how can we address it?” To help answer these questions, the Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children – conducted in Italy, Viet Nam, Peru and Zimbabwe – sought to disentangle the complex and often interrelated underlying causes of violence affecting children (VAC) in these four countries. Led by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti with its academic partner, the University of Edinburgh, the Study was conducted by national research teams comprised of government, practitioners and academic researchers in each of the four countries.

AUTHOR(S)

Mary Catherine Maternowska; Alina Potts; Deborah Fry; Tabitha Casey
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Rigorous research in humanitarian settings is possible when researchers and programmers work together, particularly in the early stages when responses to humanitarian challenges are designed. Six new rigorous research studies from five countries: Ecuador, Mali, Niger, Lebanon and Yemen illustrate this point.

AUTHOR(S)

Amber Peterman; Jacobus de Hoop; Jose Cuesta; Alexandra Yuster
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There are significant ethical implications in the adoption of technologies and the production and use of the resulting data for evidence generation. The potential benefits and opportunities need to be understood in conjunction with the potential risks and challenges. When using social media to directly engage children and their communities, or when establishing partnerships with these organizations for data collection and analysis, adoption of these technologies and their resultant data should not be exclusively driven by short-term necessity but also by the long-term needs of our younger partners. When engaging with social media and indeed most technology, thoughtfulness, reflection and ongoing interrogation is required. This paper examines the benefits, risks and ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation: (a) using social media platforms and (b) using third-party data collected and analysed by social media services. It is supplemented by practical tools to support reflection on the ethical use of social media platforms and social media data.

AUTHOR(S)

Gabrielle Berman; James Powell; Manuel Garcia Herranz
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As of January 2017, 2.78 billion people worldwide were classified as active social media users. Of these users, 1.87 billion use Facebook. Thirty-nine per cent of Facebook users are between the ages of 13 and 24 (approximately 729 million young people). Available data also show that in 2014, approximately 31 per cent of users of the top five social media platforms were aged between 16 and 24 years. With the enormity of this coverage as well as over 40 per cent growth in usage from the previous year in countries like India, UNICEF has and continues to look at ways to use these platforms and the data generated to connect with and understand the reality of children today and to ensure more child-centred/user-centred policies and services. This brief provides an overview of the critical ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using social media platforms and using third-party data collected and analysed by social media services. It is supplemented by checklists that may be used to support reflection on the ethical use of social media platforms and social media data. This brief is based on a more in-depth Innocenti Discussion Paper which provides further guidance and tools.

AUTHOR(S)

Gabrielle Berman; James Powell; Manuel Garcia Herranz
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77 items found