Child Research & Practice Forum (CRPF) monthly seminar

The CRPF meets each month to share recent research findings, policy recommendations and discuss best practices in child, girls and adolescents-focussed programmes. This month's seminar will be presented by Plan International a paper titled "Aptitude Test Tool for Quality TVET: Experiences and Opportunities from the PASEWAY project in Addis Ababa".

Child Research & Practice Forum (CRPF) monthly seminar

A Lost Year of Learning for Girls in Ethiopia: Evidence From the Young Lives at Work COVID-19 Phone Survey

Catherine Porter
Kath Ford
Policy paper


This policy brief looks at the impact of COVID-19 on girls’ education in Ethiopia, summarising findings from the Young Lives COVID-19 phone survey (consisting of three calls between June–December 2020) in relation to the Younger Cohort in the study, now aged 19. Our findings also highlight the importance of addressing associated gender issues in relation to increasing levels of domestic work and risks of early marriage, as well as worsening mental health, to avoid the longerterm impacts of a lost year of education.

We present key policy recommendations in response to these findings, including the need to ensure effective lesson learning in preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-19 restrictions in Ethiopia, and to better prepare for future shocks. 

This is the first of four briefs presenting policy recommedations in response to Young LIves research findings on the impact of COVID-19 on young people in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. Follow Young Lives on Twitter, Facebook and Linkin for updates. 


Review of Development Economics

Journal Article

November 2020's Review of Development Economics (Volume 24, Issue 4) published a Special Symposium of Young Lives papers (Editor in Chief - Andy McKay).

Papers included 'Understanding teenage fertility in Peru: An analysis using longitudinal data' and 'The role of education during adolescence to mitigate the effects of the early experience of poverty'.

Interrupted Education in Ethiopia: Support for Students During COVID-19 School Closures

Country report

This report presents findings from the Young Lives COVID-19 survey of head teachers in Ethiopia. 

It provides a snapshot of the support schools in six regions and one city administration of Ethiopia were providing for students and their families during the COVID-9 related school closures between March and July 2020, and the challenges they faced in doing this. The survey investigated teaching and learning during school closures, with a focus on accessible and meaningful learning for students and the impacts of the school closures on young people.

This report is part of a series of outputs based on the Young Lives COVID-19 survey of head teachers conducted in India and Ethiopia as part of the Gendered Young Lives: Opportunities, Learning and Positive Development research programme.

Predictors of school dropout across Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam

Journal Article

Published in GRADE, in this research paper

 the authors use the five rounds of Young Lives household surveys in four countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam) to study the characteristics of children who dropped out of school at 22 years of age.

You can read the full piece here

There is also a policy brief (in Spanish) focusing on Peru.

Longitudinal Research with the children of the Millennium. Highlights and overall key messages

Poverty and inequality
Early childhood development
Research Report


This brief, produced in partnership with UNICEF Ethiopia, draws on 15 years longitudinal research by Young Lives Ethiopia and the Country Report, highlighting the context in which this research was conducted, cross-country findings, and key implications for policy and practice. The full report is available on the Young Lives Ethiopia website. The research brief is one of the five briefs produced under the joint work of Young Lives and UNICEF.  The remaining four briefs, to be published in coming months, are on early marriage, early childhood development and education, violence and adolescence. 

From Childhood, through Adolescence to Adulthood in Ethiopia.

Since 2001, Young Lives has followed the lives of 3,000 children growing up in different contexts in Ethiopia, involving a younger cohort born in 2001-2 and an older cohort born in 1994-5. The younger cohort of children are now moving from adolescence into adulthood, while the older cohort have already become young adults. Young Lives has interviewed the children, their caregivers and community respondents over five rounds of surveys and four qualitative waves in 20 sites in five different regions.

So, what have we learnt about the lives of children over the years? And how can this information be useful for improving policies and programmes in Ethiopia? What are the differences for girls and boys, for children from urban and rural areas, and how have different household circumstances affected their life chances? When we return to interview them during this new fifth wave of qualitative research in mid- 2019, what will have changed? Where are they heading to now and what are their hopes and aspirations for the future?

The new fieldwork, supported by UNICEF, will be implemented in different urban and rural locations of Ethiopia and will compare the younger group who are still in late adolescence with the older group who are already adults. Findings will be able to illustrate different pathways for boys and girls from contrasting family backgrounds living in various settings. This will provide key insights into a range of important topics including transitions from school to work, migration, household formation, marriage and parenting and the different challenges children and youth face in contexts of food insecurity.

The new findings will inform Government policies on children and youth, feed into the evaluation of the current Growth and Transformation Plan and provide inputs into preparations for the next plan. The research will also inform UNICEF Ethiopia’s new Country Programme and other development partners’ plans to support the Government to prioritise children’s and youth issues in the journey to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Ethiopia’s efforts to attain lower middle-income status.

This new study will also allow Young Lives to further analyse the key findings from across 15 years of research to draw out key lessons into a series of short policy briefs.

The first brief will provide an overview across different areas of children’s lives. UNICEF has demonstrated that child poverty is multi-dimensional and that monetary indicators fail to convey the true depth of deprivations. The Young Lives study confirms this, and our findings address issues in various domains including poverty dynamics, nutrition, health and cognitive development, education and learning, wellbeing and child protection. This brief will include the 12 key messages highlighted in the Young Lives Ethiopia Country Report.

We then focus on four specific topics of policy concern through the development of additional policy briefs. First, we look at child marriage. Though the rate of child marriage is fortunately on the decrease in Ethiopia, it remains a major issue as the absolute number of girls affected is increasing, and little is known about what happens to girls who marry early or their offspring. We will synthesise findings from Young Lives about how early marriage and parenthood affects their lives, especially their education and work opportunities, their relations with their spouse and family and their scope for decision-making, notably about having children.

Second, violence is an area where children need further protection. Children of different ages, especially girls, face a range of risks including physical, emotional and sexual violence in their homes and communities and at school. We investigate where and why this happens, how children and adults respond, the services available and how they can be improved.

Third, we analyse early childhood care and education. How were children treated in early life and what effect has this had on their later development and chances? Young Lives reviewed current pre-school provision in Ethiopia and will use this to compare it with the experiences of the children we have been following. The new fieldwork will investigate how the Young Lives children, who are now adults, parent their own children; we will therefore be able to compare early education and care over three generations: the parents of the Young Lives children, the children who have become parents themselves and their own children.

Finally, we analyse the phase of adolescence and the struggles girls and boys face at this crucial age of transition as they seek to become independent, earn a living and form their own households and families.

The results of this research will be disseminated through briefs presented and distributed at the monthly seminar series of the Child Research and Practice Forum at the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth and at events on key international days relating to children and youth.

For wider coverage the briefs will be posted on the Young Lives and UNICEF websites, translated into Amharic to better reach a national audience and will be promoted through social media. The preliminary results of the new field research and the final versions of the briefs will be presented at a validation workshop at the end of 2019 and will provide important data for further analysis leading to insights useful for policy engagement in 2020, when Young Lives hopes to carry out a sixth survey.

This study is being undertaken by Oxford University and the Young Lives Project under the Policy Study Institute of Ethiopia. Members of the Reference Group include MoWCY, MoLSA, MOE, Save the Children, Child Justice Project, Consortium of Christian Relief & Development Associations and Addis Ababa University.

UNICEF will support financially the development of five different policy briefs using existing Young Lives’ data and the undertaking of the new qualitative wave of the Young Lives study.


‘Functional English’ Skills in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam: Comparing English Ability and Use Among 15 Year Olds in Three Countries

Working paper

Increased globalisation, interconnectivity and overall exposure have promoted a considerable increase in developing countries in usage and aspiration to learn the English language. Among policymakers and individuals, English is considered important for economic advancement, employment and social mobility. In line with this, Young Lives included a ‘functional English’ assessment as part of its 2016-17 school survey with 15 year olds in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam, providing a unique opportunity to explore English language learning outcomes and some of the factors which affect these. 

This working paper explores how functional English can be conceptualised, recognising the multiple ways in which young people in these diverse contexts may want to use English now and in the future.  It also draws on analysis of data from the Young Lives school survey to consider the level of functional English competency which children in the three countries currently have, and how this relates to the types of English required by labour markets or higher levels of education. The paper examines the disparities in English levels within the three countries, including some of the background characteristics associated with higher levels of English, and discusses the implications of such gaps on the equality of education and employment opportunities in the future.

Using Scale-Anchoring to Interpret the Young Lives 2016-17 Achievement Scale

Technical notes

An important dimension of the Young Lives school surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam has been the inclusion of assessments in selected cognitive domains. In the 2016-17 secondary school survey, assessments of mathematics and English were administered at the beginning and end of the school year in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. 

This technical note presents the results of two exploratory ‘scale-anchoring’ exercises, which link items to achievement levels to produce performance-level descriptors of what students have demonstrated they know and can do. The note uses mathematics assessment data from the 2016-17 school survey in India before extending the analysis to include Ethiopia, India and Vietnam in a cross-country scale.