This generation of students now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 percent of today’s global GDP, because of COVID-19-related school closures and economic shocks. This new projection far exceeds the $10 trillion estimate released in 2020 and reveals that the impact of the pandemic is more severe than previously thought.
The pandemic and school closures not only jeopardized children’s health and safety with domestic violence and child labor increasing, but also impacted student learning substantially. In low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in Learning Poverty – already above 50 percent before the pandemic – could reach 70 percent largely as a result of the long school closures and the relative ineffectiveness of remote learning.
Unless action is taken, learning losses may continue to accumulate once children are back in school, endangering future learning.
Children from low-income households, children with disabilities, and girls were less likely to access remote learning due to limited availability of electricity, connectivity, devices, accessible technologies as well as discrimination and social and gender norms.
Younger students had less access to age-appropriate remote learning and were more affected by learning loss than older students. Pre-school-age children, who are at a pivotal stage for learning and development, faced a double disadvantage as they were often left out of remote learning and school reopening plans.
Learning losses were greater for students of lower socioeconomic status.
While the gendered impact of school closures on learning is still emerging, initial evidence points to larger learning losses among girls.
As a result, these children risk missing out on much of the boost that schools and learning can provide to their well-being and life chances. The learning recovery response must therefore target support to those that need it most, to prevent growing inequalities in education.
Beyond learning, growing evidence shows the negative effects school closures have had on students’ mental health and well-being, health and nutrition, and protection, reinforcing the vital role schools play in providing comprehensive support and services to students.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrust higher education into the national spotlight — and not for good reasons. Virtual learning has largely supplanted in-person instruction, keeping students home or, in some cases, returning them there abruptly following their arrival on campus this fall.
Colleges are losing room and board revenue and associated fees, and even facing lawsuits from angry families demanding tuition refunds. The core product — teaching and learning — has come under attack for dubious quality. Higher education is indeed in crisis.
Tens of thousands of colleges began 2020 already suffering from financial stress, and the pandemic repercussions have only intensified the crisis. Now, many face an uncertain future.
Is this, in your opinion, an important and growing problem and how do you think it can be solved?