Researching the Impact of School Closures on Children in Humanitarian Settings: A Multi-Country Study

new logo_white.png
PFIL-4 for dark background.png
INEE Logo Vertical English, FullColor [web].png

Participatory Research in Three Countries: Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lebanon 

This is a collaborative research project led by Proteknôn on behalf of the Alliance and in partnership with the INEE. The national implementing partners include BIFERD (DRC), CINDE (Colombia) and Dr. Bassel Akar (Lebanon). The project is generously funded by Porticus and UNICEF

Goal: To better ensure that children are at the centre of planning processes during infectious disease outbreaks.


Key Research Questions: In humanitarian and crisis contexts, how have school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic affected:

  • Education inequalities? 

  • Child protection risk and protective factors?

  • Adverse outcomes for children?

The Research Methods are qualitative and participatory and the findings are informed by the experiences and perspectives of children, their families and educators. 

The methodology aims to be inclusive.

  • Active inclusion of voices of those at the margins of our society

  • Gendered lens for the research 

  • 15% target of research sample to be children/adults with range of disabilities

Screen Shot 2021-06-07 at 3.23.42 PM.png

DRC (UNICEF//UN0421476/Wenga)

Project Timeline

Explore the Project Timeline by hovering over each coloured segment and find out more about each phase of the project! 

Screen Shot 2021-06-10 at 9.53.52 AM.png

Lebanon (UNICEF/UNI317998/Choufany)

Phase 2: Primary Research and Analysis

  • ​Key Informant Interviews (global and national)

  • Primary research in 2 sites /country

  • Translation and data analysis

  • Analysis, validation and advocacy planning workshops with children and adult participants

  • Validation workshops with decision-makers

Phase 1:  Research Planning

  • Identify research countries and partners

  • Inception report/methodology

  • Carry out research ethics and permit process processes

  • Co-develop, translate & pilot research tools

  • Identify research sites / participants

  • Train national teams on ethics, methods

Phase 3 Writing, dissemination and advocacy

  • Report writing, country-level summary writing

  • Finalize reports, country-level summaries, and advocacy briefs

  • Support local advocacy strategy

  • Create joint dissemination plan

  • Dissemination activities (i.e., report launch, webinars)



1) Key Informant Interviews with global, national, sub-national stakeholders, and local decision makers.


2) Participatory Research with children


3) Focus Group Discussions with caregivers, educators, and members of the social service workforce

Jan - April 2021

May - Dec 2021

Nov 2021 - April 2022



Progress Dashboard

This dashboard will be updated as the research phases continue. Last updated on mm/dd/yyyy.


Data to be included in graph form: 

 15 Global Key Informant Interviews (KII)

  • National KIIs

  • Children

  • Parents

  • Education and CP stakeholders 

  • Social Service Workforce

Materials consulted for Annotated Bibliography

Colombia (UNICEF/UN0413021/Romero)


Timeline of School Closures

Academic Break: Schools across the country are on scheduled academic breaks for most or all the student population. All instructional activities are suspended during this period.

Fully Open: Schools are open and deliver classes exclusively face-to-face for most or all of the student population. 

Partially Open: Schools are: (a) open in certain regions and closed in others; and/or (b) open for some grades, levels, or age groups and closed for others; and/or (c) open with reduced in-person class time, combined with distance learning (hybrid approach).

Closed due to COVID-19: Government-mandated closures of educational institutions affecting most or all of the student population. 

Source: UNESCO's global monitoring of school closures due to COVID-19, Updated on 17 June 2021

Special thanks to Thu Truong and UNESCO for providing the above Timeline of School Closures, to find out more about UNESCO's global monitoring of school closures, click here.


Emerging Findings: Phase 1 

  • In humanitarian spaces, COVID-19 and school closures have had serious impacts on children’s wellbeing, but in settings of compounding crises (conflict, natural disasters, poverty, etc..), COVID-related school closures have not necessarily been the exclusive defining factor of children’s wellbeing but rather an additional risk, exacerbating other stressors with negative impact both immediately and in the long-term.


  • COVID-19 is often defined exclusively as a health emergency, and school closures happened swiftly to prevent transmission. However, there has been little focus on how to mitigate the child protection risks that were made worse during lockdowns and school and protracted school closures. This can be seen in the increase of violence and threats targeting youth since the beginning of the pandemic. 

  • School closures deprived children of more than just a place of learning space and a ‘safe space’; it cut off vital services, including referral pathways for children to get further protection services (including mental health and psychosocial support), and nutritional support such as through school feeding programs. The home confinement due to school closures further impacted the mental health of children and their families.

Special thanks to Hannah Huber, Lotte Kallio and Sara Argyriadis with the Living Labs programme at the University of Groningen for their efforts to develop this website. 

The themes reported here are based upon preliminary analysis are should not be considered for quotation or citation. For more information about this project, please contact

Screen Shot 2021-06-07 at 3.31.54 PM.png