Even before COVID-19 forced a massive closure of schools around the globe, the world was in the middle of a learning crisis that threatened efforts to build human capital—the skills and know-how needed for the jobs of the future. More than half (53 percent) of 10-year-old children in low- and middle-income countries either had failed to learn to read with comprehension or were out of school entirely. This is what we at the World Bank call learning poverty. Recent improvements in Learning Poverty have been extremely slow. If trends of the last 15 years were to be extrapolated, it will take 50 years to halve learning poverty. Last year we proposed a target to cut Learning Poverty by at least half by 2030. This would require doubling or trebling the recent rate of improvement in learning, something difficult but achievable. But now COVID-19 is likely to deepen learning gaps and make this dramatically more difficult.
Temporary school closures in more than 180 countries have, at the peak of the pandemic, kept nearly 1.6 billion students out of school; for about half of those students, school closures are exceeding 7 months. Although most countries have made heroic efforts to put remote and remedial learning strategies in place, learning losses are likely to happen. A recent survey of education officials on government responses to COVID-19 by UNICEF, UNESCO, and the World Bank shows that while countries and regions have responded in various ways, only half of the initiatives are monitoring usage of remote learning (Figure 1, top panel). Moreover, where usage is being monitored, the remote learning is being used by less than half of the student population (Figure 1, bottom panel), and most of those cases are online platforms in high- and middle-income countries.
The Flexible Learning Strategies for Out of School Children programme is a UNESCO initiative with the aim of supporting inclusive and quality education for every child in the region. Our goal is to reach the remaining and most vulnerable 5% of children with no access to education in the region and support quality improvements in learning for every child.
The contents, views and opinions expressed in the article on this website are those of the authors and speakers and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by UNESCO.
If you find that your content is being used incorrectly, please contact us at email@example.com. Any infringement was not done on purpose and will be rectified to all parties satisfaction.