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Education

Educating children is an investment in their futures, and in peaceful and prosperous societies. Access to an education is every child’s right. Using the best available evidence, the goal of our Education team is to go beyond identifying education challenges to finding education solutions that work for all children. The team's work is organised around four key themes in education research from the broadest system-level research (e.g. Time to Teach program), through policy level (e.g. private education in South Asia) and program level research (e.g. Sport for Development), to individual level research centered on skill development and well-being.

The defining principles of the team are:

Time to Teach

The Time to Teach program is a multi-country study on teacher absenteeism. Recent evidence shows that the rate of teachers’ time-on-task is less than half of teaching time in some settings of sub-Saharan Africa, yet there remains only a limited evidence base on how policies and practices influence different types of absenteeism. By using the concept of multilevel teacher absenteeism and qualitative research methods, the study aims to identify bottlenecks at each level of teacher absenteeism in primary and secondary schools in 22 African nations.

Sport for Development

The team is also building an evidence base in advocacy, practice and policy for Sport for Development. Collaborating with partners, including the Barça Foundation, this research aims to build an evidence base in advocacy, practice and policy for S4D, as part of the FCBF and UNICEF’s joint ambitions to lead a global discourse on harnessing the power of sports for transforming children’s lives. 

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Education

Educating children is an investment in their futures, and in peaceful and prosperous societies. Access to an education is every child’s right. Using the best available evidence, the goal of our Education team is to go beyond identifying education challenges to finding education solutions that work for all children. The team's work is organised around four key themes in education research from the broadest system-level research (e.g. Time to Teach program), through policy level (e.g. private education in South Asia) and program level research (e.g. Sport for Development), to individual level research centered on skill development and well-being.

The defining principles of the team are:

  • Contributing to UNICEF’s evidence-base for education policy and programming in alignment with SDGs.
  • Assessing influences from multiple sectors to facilitate the translation of research evidence into practical education policy.
  • Prioritizing methods of inquiry which produce evidence with external validity and policies with cross-system applicability.
  • Using existing evidence to generate future-focused theories of change that move education systems, policies, and programs forward for every child. 

Time to Teach

The Time to Teach program is a multi-country study on teacher absenteeism. Recent evidence shows that the rate of teachers’ time-on-task is less than half of teaching time in some settings of sub-Saharan Africa, yet there remains only a limited evidence base on how policies and practices influence different types of absenteeism. By using the concept of multilevel teacher absenteeism and qualitative research methods, the study aims to identify bottlenecks at each level of teacher absenteeism in primary and secondary schools in 22 African nations.

Sport for Development

The team is also building an evidence base in advocacy, practice and policy for Sport for Development. Collaborating with partners, including the Barça Foundation, this research aims to build an evidence base in advocacy, practice and policy for S4D, as part of the FCBF and UNICEF’s joint ambitions to lead a global discourse on harnessing the power of sports for transforming children’s lives. 

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LATEST PUBLICATIONS

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.

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.

AUTHOR(S)

Dominic Richardson

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

Evidence from national studies in developed and developing countries suggests that girls spend more time on housework. The most common explanation relates to behaviour modelling as a mechanism of gender role reproduction: children form habits based on parental models. This brief shows that participation in household chores is an essential part of children’s lives. There is a common pattern of a gender gap between boys’ and girls’ daily participation in housework across a diverse range of socio-economic and cultural contexts in 12 high-income countries. The persistence of this gap points to gender stereotyping – a form of gender role reproduction within a family that potentially can reinforce inequalities over the life-course.

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.

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

Sexual violence against women and girls is widespread globally. In their lifetime, one in three women will experience intimate partner physical or sexual violence and 7 per cent will experience forced sex by someone other than an intimate partner.

Research is invaluable for contextualising online experiences in relation to children’s and families’ lives and the wider cultural or national circumstances. The Global Kids Online project aims to connect evidence with the ongoing international dialogue regarding policy and practical solutions for children’s well-being and rights in the digital age, especially in countries where the internet is only recently reaching the mass market.

Advocacy and action for adolescents have been hampered by the lack of a concrete results framework that can be used to describe the state of the world’s adolescents and serve as a basis for goals and targets. In order to fill this gap, UNICEF, in collaboration with key partners, is facilitating the development of an outcome-based framework that incorporates the key dimensions of an adolescent’s life and a proposed set of globally comparable indicators that will provide a common platform to track the progress of adolescent development and well-being. The domains that have been selected for measurement are: health and well-being, education and learning, safety and protection, participation, transition to work.

AUTHOR(S)

Prerna Banati; Judith Diers

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