World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF call for Learning Recovery Programs and greater investment in education in stimulus packages
, Dec 6 () –
A report on the educational consequences of the coronavirus pandemic estimates at 17 trillion dollars (about 15 trillion euros) what current students will lose throughout their lives as a result of the impact of COVID-19. At its height, the pandemic has disrupted the education of 1.6 billion students.
The report ‘The state of the global education crisis: A path to recovery’ thus shows that around 15 percent of current world GDP could be lost due to the closure of educational centers due to the virus. The text has been prepared by the World Bank, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The new projection reveals that the impact is more serious than previously thought and far exceeds the estimates of $ 10 trillion published in 2020.
In addition, it shows that in low- and middle-income countries, the proportion of children living in learning poverty – which was already 53 percent before the pandemic – could reach 70 percent due to long periods of time. school closings and the ineffectiveness of distance learning to ensure full continuity of learning during school closings.
“The COVID-19 crisis paralyzed education systems around the world,” explained the World Bank’s director of global education, Jaime Saavedra. “Now, 21 months later, schools remain closed for millions of children and others may never return to the classroom. The loss of learning that many children are experiencing is morally unacceptable,” he added.
The direct consequence is the “devastating” impact on the future productivity, income and well-being of this generation of children and young people, their families and the economies of the world.
Simulations that estimate that school closings cause significant learning losses are being corroborated by real data. For example, regional data for Brazil, Pakistan, India, South Africa, or Mexico show substantial losses in math and reading.
LOSSES PROPORTIONAL TO THE DURATION OF THE CLOSURES
The analysis shows that in some countries learning losses are roughly proportional to the duration of closures. However, there is great heterogeneity between countries and according to subject, students’ socioeconomic status, gender, and grade level.
For example, results from two states in Mexico show significant learning losses in reading and mathematics for students aged 10 to 15 years. Estimated learning losses were greater in math than in reading and disproportionately affected younger students, low-income students, and girls.
With a few exceptions, general trends around the world align with Mexico’s findings, suggesting that the crisis has exacerbated inequalities in education. Children from low-income households, boys with disabilities, and girls were less likely to access distance learning than their peers.
This is due to the lack of accessible technologies and the availability of electricity, connectivity and devices, as well as discrimination and gender norms.
Younger students had less access to distance learning and were more affected by learning loss than older students, especially among preschool-age children at crucial stages of learning and development.
The detrimental impact on learning has disproportionately affected the most marginalized or vulnerable. Learning losses were greater for students of lower socioeconomic status in countries such as Ghana, Mexico, and Pakistan.
The first indications are that the losses are greater among girls, since they are rapidly losing the protection that school and learning offer to their well-being and their opportunities in life.
“In some countries, we are seeing greater learning losses among girls and an increased risk of them facing child labor, gender-based violence, early marriage and pregnancy,” said UNICEF Director of Education Robert Jenkins.
The report further highlights that, to date, less than 3 percent of government stimulus packages have been earmarked for education. “Much more funding will be needed for immediate recovery of learning,” the authors note.
RECOVERY LEARNING PROGRAMS
For this reason, they call for the reopening of schools to be a “top and urgent” priority worldwide to stop and reverse learning losses. “Countries should implement Learning Recovery Programs with the aim of ensuring that students of this generation reach at least the same skills as the previous generation,” they have stated.
These programs should cover three key lines of action: consolidate the curriculum, extend instructional time, and improve learning efficiency. “We must make children and young people a true priority amidst all the other demands of the response to the pandemic. Their future and our collective future depend on it,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Education. .
The report includes a series of recommendations to build more resilient education systems in the long term: Invest in the enabling environment to unlock the potential of digital learning opportunities for all students; reinforce the role of parents, families and communities in children’s learning; ensure that teachers have support and access to high-quality professional development opportunities and increase the share of education in the national budget allocation for stimulus packages.