Reversing the Pandemic's Education Losses
When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most. Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.
WASHINGTON, DC – As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world. Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind.
It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic. According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries. This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.
As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children the many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth. Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.