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Education

The learning crisis is striking. 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10. In poor countries, the “learning poverty” rate is as high as 80 percent. The UNICEF Office of Research (OoR) – Innocenti developed in 2019 a new vision for its education programme for addressing learning poverty, aligned with the 2019-2030 UNICEF Education Strategy ‘Every child learns’. The vision puts increased emphasis on research embedded within programmes and on the use of evidence at country level, through co-creation of the research from the onset with Governments, implementing partners, communities and other stakeholders.  OoR-education programme focuses on research of: i) education systems and policies and ii) local service delivery (in and outside the school); and iii) innovations using behavioral/scaling science & implementation research to build evidence to bridge the “know-do” gap between systems and local level implementation.

Time to Teach
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. The Time to Teach study seeks to identify factors affecting various forms of teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies in twenty African countries (the Comoros; Kenya; Mozambique; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania; Uganda; Morocco; the Gambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Mauritania, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire; Gabon). The study draws from national, system-wide, qualitative data collections and school observations, and a quantitative survey of teachers.

Sport for Development

Sport for Development (S4D) programmes use sports to achieve development objectives such as education, health, empowerment and like skills. Collaborating with partners, including the Barça Foundation, this research aims to build the evidence base on the  practice and policy of S4D. Building on the findings of the Getting into the Game report, this mixed-methods study is now conducting case studies of programmes from different countries. By listening to the voices of various stakeholders from different countries it aims to develop guidelines on best practices, advocacy and communication, and monitoring and evaluation for organisations implementing S4D progamming for children.

Akelius - Digital language learning for refugees, migrants and linguistic minorities

This research programme investigates the co-creation, implementation, effectiveness of the Akelius digital language course.  The digital language course is co-created with teachers and students and used in a blended learning approach as a tool for teachers / facilitators, and as a self-learning tool. Fit for purpose monitoring and implementation research is built into to programme to facilitate improvements in the programme as it scales.  The programme is currently implemented for refugees and migrants in Greece, as part of the non-formal education programmes for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, and as a tool to improve language skills of marginalized children in Mauritania.

Data Must Speak (research component)

In spite of the learning crisis and even in the most difficult contexts, there are some “positive deviant” schools, that outperform (in terms of learning, gender and equity) other schools in similar contexts and with equivalent resources. Data Must Speak uses mixed-method research on school performance, including behavioral and scaling science and implementation research to identify “positive deviant” practices and behaviors at classroom, school, community and district levels and incentivize their application at scale in all schools, in partnership with Ministries of Education in 8 countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Niger, Togo, Zambia)

Let Us Learn – building evidence into education programmes for the most marginalized.

Let Us Learn (LUL) is an initiative that supports vulnerable children - especially girls - learning though a variety of education programmes in 5 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal. UNICEF Office of Research- Innocenti and the Education Section in UNICEF HQ are supporting LUL programmes by helping implementing partners to improve their M&E systems and building evidence through mixed methods research to understand programme effectiveness in their contribution to improved education outcomes, including learning.

The education team also provides research outside of these multi-year research programmes supporting UNICEF HQ, Regional offices and Country Offices in research on multiple topics including: Private Education in South Asia, Migration and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean and understanding equity in education spending using Benefit Incidence Analysis together with UNICEF’s Education and Social Policy sections in HQ.

 

COVID 19 & Children

Visit our COVID-19 & Children website for Research Agenda, Research Publications, Blogs, Think Pieces, Online Events, Good Reads and more

Short-term projects

Identifying good practices for equitable remote learning during COVID-19 school closures
Analysis of promising remote learning practices during school closures and effects on the most vulnerable children. Builds on data collected from country offices and other sources.

Parental engagement in children’s learning: Insights for remote learning response during COVID-19
Analysis of MICS 6 data on the potential of child-oriented books at home and the parental role for learning, especially where low access to technology.

Long-term project

Learning from COVID-19 on providing continued education for all in times of school closures
Investigating the impacts of COVID-19 school closures on education and other outcomes and what works to provide continued learning during crises. The research will draw on available data and ongoing Innocenti research

 

 


Education

The learning crisis is striking. 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10. In poor countries, the “learning poverty” rate is as high as 80 percent. The UNICEF Office of Research (OoR) – Innocenti developed in 2019 a new vision for its education programme for addressing learning poverty, aligned with the 2019-2030 UNICEF Education Strategy ‘Every child learns’. The vision puts increased emphasis on research embedded within programmes and on the use of evidence at country level, through co-creation of the research from the onset with Governments, implementing partners, communities and other stakeholders.  OoR-education programme focuses on research of: i) education systems and policies and ii) local service delivery (in and outside the school); and iii) innovations using behavioral/scaling science & implementation research to build evidence to bridge the “know-do” gap between systems and local level implementation.

Time to Teach
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. The Time to Teach study seeks to identify factors affecting various forms of teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies in twenty African countries (the Comoros; Kenya; Mozambique; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania; Uganda; Morocco; the Gambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Mauritania, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire; Gabon). The study draws from national, system-wide, qualitative data collections and school observations, and a quantitative survey of teachers.

Sport for Development

Sport for Development (S4D) programmes use sports to achieve development objectives such as education, health, empowerment and like skills. Collaborating with partners, including the Barça Foundation, this research aims to build the evidence base on the  practice and policy of S4D. Building on the findings of the Getting into the Game report, this mixed-methods study is now conducting case studies of programmes from different countries. By listening to the voices of various stakeholders from different countries it aims to develop guidelines on best practices, advocacy and communication, and monitoring and evaluation for organisations implementing S4D progamming for children.

Akelius - Digital language learning for refugees, migrants and linguistic minorities

This research programme investigates the co-creation, implementation, effectiveness of the Akelius digital language course.  The digital language course is co-created with teachers and students and used in a blended learning approach as a tool for teachers / facilitators, and as a self-learning tool. Fit for purpose monitoring and implementation research is built into to programme to facilitate improvements in the programme as it scales.  The programme is currently implemented for refugees and migrants in Greece, as part of the non-formal education programmes for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, and as a tool to improve language skills of marginalized children in Mauritania.

Data Must Speak (research component)

In spite of the learning crisis and even in the most difficult contexts, there are some “positive deviant” schools, that outperform (in terms of learning, gender and equity) other schools in similar contexts and with equivalent resources. Data Must Speak uses mixed-method research on school performance, including behavioral and scaling science and implementation research to identify “positive deviant” practices and behaviors at classroom, school, community and district levels and incentivize their application at scale in all schools, in partnership with Ministries of Education in 8 countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Niger, Togo, Zambia)

Let Us Learn – building evidence into education programmes for the most marginalized.

Let Us Learn (LUL) is an initiative that supports vulnerable children - especially girls - learning though a variety of education programmes in 5 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal. UNICEF Office of Research- Innocenti and the Education Section in UNICEF HQ are supporting LUL programmes by helping implementing partners to improve their M&E systems and building evidence through mixed methods research to understand programme effectiveness in their contribution to improved education outcomes, including learning.

The education team also provides research outside of these multi-year research programmes supporting UNICEF HQ, Regional offices and Country Offices in research on multiple topics including: Private Education in South Asia, Migration and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean and understanding equity in education spending using Benefit Incidence Analysis together with UNICEF’s Education and Social Policy sections in HQ.

 

COVID 19 & Children

Visit our COVID-19 & Children website for Research Agenda, Research Publications, Blogs, Think Pieces, Online Events, Good Reads and more

Short-term projects

Identifying good practices for equitable remote learning during COVID-19 school closures
Analysis of promising remote learning practices during school closures and effects on the most vulnerable children. Builds on data collected from country offices and other sources.

Parental engagement in children’s learning: Insights for remote learning response during COVID-19
Analysis of MICS 6 data on the potential of child-oriented books at home and the parental role for learning, especially where low access to technology.

Long-term project

Learning from COVID-19 on providing continued education for all in times of school closures
Investigating the impacts of COVID-19 school closures on education and other outcomes and what works to provide continued learning during crises. The research will draw on available data and ongoing Innocenti research

 

 


LATEST INNOCENTI PUBLICATIONS

This research brief is one of a series that explores the impact of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on the potential parental role in learning and its association with foundational reading and numeracy skills. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In low-income countries, the learning crisis is even more acute, with the ‘learning poverty’ rate reaching 90 per cent. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 191 countries have implemented countrywide school closures, affecting 1.6 billion learners worldwide. In India alone, 320 million students from pre-primary to tertiary level are affected by school closures. In sub-Saharan Africa, 240 million are affected. With children currently not able to study in classrooms, the importance of learning at home is amplified and the task of supporting children’s learning has fallen on parents at a much larger rate. This is a significant burden, particularly for those who are also teleworking and those with limited schooling themselves.

AUTHOR(S)

Mathieu Brossard; Manuel Cardoso; Akito Kamei; Sakshi Mishra; Suguru Mizunoya; Nicolas Reuge

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.

AUTHOR(S)

Thomas Dreesen; Spogmai Akseer; Mathieu Brossard; Pragya Dewan; Juan-Pablo Giraldo; Akito Kamei; Suguru Mizunoya; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa

2018 Results Report

Innocenti Publications

2019     21 Jun 2019
In 2018, significant gains were made in generating evidence to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children, build organizational capacity to conduct and use quality, ethical research on children, and set a foundation as an important convening centre for expert consultation on next-generation ideas on children. 2018 marks the first year the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti is reporting on the progress of research under the new UNICEF Strategic Plan (2018-2021). This plan is the first to clearly delineate the role of research and evidence as one of the eight priority change strategies for children. This report therefore is an account of the first year of work to generate critical evidence to inform programmes, policies and advocacy for children and young people around the world

Sport is a powerful tool for involving all children – including the most marginalized and vulnerable – in group activities from an early age (UNHCR, 2013). For this reason, sport for development (S4D) organizations use sport as an inclusive means of helping children to improve their health; to develop their physical abilities; to develop their social, educational and leadership skills; and of course, to play and have fun. S4D initiatives come in various forms – from those that build personal and social programmes around sport, to those that include sport as one of many approaches to achieving social goals. This new UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti summary report analyses available evidence on S4D initiatives for children and youth. The findings cover how the key outcomes of education, social inclusion, protection and empowerment link to sport; what works in practice and how it works; the main challenges for implementation; and recommendations for better policy, practice and research.

In the world’s richest countries, some children do worse at school than others because of circumstances beyond their control, such as where they were born, the language they speak or their parents’ occupations. These children enter the education system at a disadvantage and can drop further behind if educational policies and practices reinforce, rather than reduce, the gap between them and their peers. These types of inequality are unjust. Not all children have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential, to pursue their interests and to develop their talents and skills. This has social and economic costs. This report focuses on educational inequalities in 41 of the world’s richest countries, all of which are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and/or the European Union (EU). Using the most recent data available, it examines inequalities across childhood – from access to preschool to expectations of post-secondary education – and explores in depth the relationships between educational inequality and factors such as parents’ occupations, migration background, the child’s gender and school characteristics. The key feature of the report is the league table, which summarizes the extent of educational inequalities at preschool, primary school and secondary school levels. The indicator of inequality at the preschool level is the percentage of students enrolled in organized learning one year before the official age of primary school entry. The indicator for both primary school (Grade 4, around age 10) and secondary school (age 15) is the gap in reading scores between the lowest- and highest-performing students.

AUTHOR(S)

Yekaterina Chzhen; Anna Gromada; Gwyther Rees; Jose Cuesta; Zlata Bruckauf

The rate of bullying among children is a key indicator of children’s well-being and an important marker for comparing global social development: both victims and perpetrators of bullying in childhood suffer across various dimensions, including personal social development, education, and health, with negative effects persisting into adulthood. For policymakers and professionals working with children, high rates of bullying amongst children should raise warning flags regarding child rights’ failings. Moreover, bullying amongst school-aged children highlights existing inefficiencies in the social system, and the potential for incurring future social costs in the communities and schools in which children live their lives. Inevitably, these concerns have contributed to bullying becoming a globally recognized challenge – every region in the world collects information on children’s experiences of bullying. Yet, despite the identification and monitoring of bullying having global appeal, so far, a validated global measure has not been produced. To fill this gap in knowledge, this paper develops a global indicator on bullying amongst children using existing school-based surveys from around the world. The findings of this paper show that bullying is a complex phenomenon that takes multiple forms, and is experienced to widely varying degrees across the world.

AUTHOR(S)

Dominic Richardson; Chii Fen Hiu

This synthesis report, ‘Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Key Findings’ explores how the role of families, and family policies from around the world, can contribute to meeting the SDG targets. Given the key role families and family policies play in determining social progress, and in view of the national and international focus on meeting the SDGs by 2030, the timing of this publication is opportune. The report summarizes evidence across the six SDGs that cover poverty, health, education, gender equality, youth unemployment, and ending violence. It highlights important issues that policy makers may wish to consider when making future policies work for families, and family policies work for the future. Given the broad scope of the SDG ambitions, a key contribution of this work is to map how the successes of family-focused policies and programmes in one SDG have been successful in contributing to positive outcomes in other SDG goal areas.

Mental health is increasingly gaining the spotlight in the media and public discourse of industrialized countries. The problem is not new, but thanks to more open discussions and fading stigma, it is emerging as one of the most critical concerns of public health today. Psychological problems among children and adolescents can be wide-ranging and may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive conduct, anxiety, eating and mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Consistent evidence shows the links between adolescents’ mental health and the experience of bullying. Collecting internationally comparable data to measure mental health problems among children and adolescents will provide important evidence and stimulate governments to improve psychological support and services to vulnerable children.

AUTHOR(S)

Zlata Bruckauf

The attitudes that we hold are shaped and nurtured by society, institutions, religion and family; they involve feelings, beliefs and behaviours and represent a form of judgement. These attitudes and values define the power relations, dynamics, opportunities and choices between men and women, boys and girls. Societies vary significantly in the scale of egalitarian attitudes and beliefs related to gender roles and opportunities in education, politics, the family, and the workforce. Progress towards more egalitarian gender values is crucial for achieving gender equality among children and young people, which in turn is a pre-condition for sustainable development.

AUTHOR(S)

Yekaterina Chzhen; Zlata Bruckauf

Early childhood development is a driving force for sustainable development due to its multiplier effects not only on children but also on the community and society at large. Access to ECEC alone is insufficient for achieving positive child outcomes – it must also be of high quality. This Brief aims to summarize the key points of ongoing debate on this issue, and outline some of the challenges faced by high-income countries. A step towards a more holistic monitoring of ECEC would be to develop a coherent national strategy that recognizes diversity while addressing disparities; to respond to the needs of both child and family through strong partnerships with parents and ECE practitioners; and to apply measurement tools that capture a child’s engagement rather than test readiness.

AUTHOR(S)

Zlata Bruckauf; Nóirín Hayes

MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Mathieu Brossard; Spogmai Akseer; Carolina Alban Conto; Artur Borkowski; Cirenia Chavez; Renaud Comba; Thomas Dreesen; Akito Kamei; Despina Karamperidou; Dita Nugroho; Javier Santiago Ortiz Correa; Chiara Pasquini; Silvia Peirolo


Partner organizations

DFID - Department for International Development

European Commission - Directorate General for Education and Culture

New York University

Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation

The World Bank

UNESCO

UNICEF LACRO - Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office

USAID - United States Agency for International Development


Videos

Getting Into the Game

Campaigns

Getting into the Game


Blogs

Can broadcast media foster equitable learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

Remote Learning Amid a Global Pandemic: Insights from MICS6

Getting the "development" right in Sport for Development

Improving education systems from beyond school walls


Podcasts

A Conversation with our Education Team

Nobel laureate Prof. James Heckman talks about ECD


Journal articles

Comparing inequality in adolescents’ reading achievement across 37 countries and over time: outcomes versus opportunities

Early school failure predicts teenage pregnancy and marriage: A large population-based cohort study in northern Malawi

Failing to progress or progressing to fail? Age-for-grade heterogeneity and grade repetition in primary schools in Karonga district, northern Malawi

A Longitudinal Analysis of Well-Being of Ghanaian Children in Transnational Families

Transnational migration, gender and educational development of children in Tajikistan


RESEARCH WATCH

Early Childhood Development


Conferences & Meetings

Global expert meeting on bullying and cyber-bullying

Building Evidence in Education