File photo of the World Bank - Reuters
The report said that this estimated loss is more severe than previously thought, and far exceeds the $10 trillion loss estimated by the three institutions in 2020.
The report also expected that in low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in learning poverty would jump to 70 percent, up from 53 percent recorded prior to the pandemic, due to the long school closures and the ineffectiveness of remote learning in these countries.
“The COVID-19 crisis brought education systems across the world to a halt. Now, 21 months later, schools remain closed for millions of children, and others may never return to school. The loss of learning that many children are experiencing is morally unacceptable. And the potential increase of Learning Poverty might have a devastating impact on future productivity, earnings, and well-being for this generation of children and youth, their families, and the world’s economies,” said Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank Global Director for Education.
Moreover, the report demonstrated that children in low-income households, children with disabilities, and girls were less likely to access remote learning than their peers due to lack of accessible technologies and the availability of electricity, connectivity, and devices, as well as discrimination and gender norms.
It also showed that younger students had less access to remote learning and were more affected by learning loss than older students, especially among pre-school age children in pivotal learning and development stages.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools across the world, disrupting education for 1.6 billion students at its peak, and exacerbated the gender divide. In some countries, we’re seeing greater learning losses among girls and an increase in their risk of facing child labour, gender-based violence, early marriage, and pregnancy. To stem the scars on this generation, we must reopen schools and keep them open, target outreach to return learners to school, and accelerate learning recovery," UNICEF Director of Education Robert Jenkins stated.
The report also said that less than 3 percent of governments’ stimulus packages have been allocated to education amid the ongoing challenges.
In this regard, the report stressed that reopening schools must remain a top and urgent priority globally to stem and reverse learning losses.
It also urged countries to put in place Learning Recovery Programs with the objective of assuring that students of this generation attain at least the same competencies of the previous generation and these programmes should focus on consolidating the curriculum, extending instructional time, and improving the efficiency of learning.
Th report highlighted a number of long-term solutions to deal with the situation; especially in low- and middle-income countries, which include investing in unlocking the potential of digital learning opportunities for all students, reinforcing the role of parents, families, and communities in children’s learning, ensuring teachers have support and access to high-quality professional development opportunities, and increasing the share of education in the national budget allocation of stimulus packages.