A global appraisal of the world education by key stakeholders, in the wake of a global learning crisis fueled by ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, has indicated that school systems play an important role in helping students catch up.

Despite, the report showed that on average, students globally are eight months behind where they would have been in the absence of the pandemic, but noted that the impact varies widely, with countries falling into three archetypes.

Given the impact of the pandemic on students’ learning, the executive summary on the review of the sector, tagged: “The Pandemic’s Impact On Learning: Where Do We Go From Here?” a report by Mckinsey and Company, however, highlighted that by 2040, the economic impact of pandemic-related learning delays could lead to annual losses of $1.6 trillion worldwide, or 0.9 per cent of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Based on the foregoing, the report further indicated that lower levels of learning would translate into lower future earnings potential for students and lower economic productivity for nations.

However, beyond impediments to learning, the report noted that the pandemic has had broader social and emotional impacts on students globally with rising mental-health concerns, reports of violence against children, rising obesity, increases in teenage pregnancy, and rising levels of chronic absenteeism and dropouts.

This latest report on unfinished learning, therefore, examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student learning and well-being, as well as identifies the potential considerations for school systems as they support students in their recovery and beyond.

In its key findings, it was reported that the length of school closures varied widely across the world, where school buildings in in low-income sub-Saharan Africa were either fully or partially closed for 34 weeks on average, while in middle-income Latin America and South Asia schools were fully or partially closed the longest for 75 weeks or more.

The report also indicated that schools in high-income Europe and Central Asia were fully or partially closed for less time for about 30 weeks on average.

On access to quality remote and hybrid learning, the report stated that this also varied across and within countries, which in Tanzania, when school buildings were closed, children in only six per cent of households listened to radio lessons, with five per cent could accessed TV lessons, and fewer than one per cent participated in online learning.

X-raying pandemic-related learning delays stack up on top of historical learning inequities, the World Bank, according to the report, estimates that while students in high-income countries gained an average of 50 harmonised learning outcomes (HLO) points a year prepandemic, students in low-income countries gained just 20, leaving those students several years behind.

The report, authored by Jacob Bryant, a Partner in McKinsey’s Seattle Office; Felipe Child, a Partner in the Bogotá Office, with Jose Espinosa, an Associate Partner; Emma Dorn, a Senior Expert in the Silicon Valley Office; Stephen Hall, a Partner in the Dubai Office, where Dirk Schmautzer is a Partner; as well as Topsy Kola-Oyeneyin, a Partner in the Lagos Office; Cheryl Lim, a Partner in the Singapore Office; Frédéric Panier also a Partner in the Brussels Office; Jimmy Sarakatsannis, a Senior Partner in the Washington, DC, Office; and Seckin Ungur, a Partner in the Sydney Office, where Bart Woord is an Associate Partner.

In the high-performing systems, the report stated that with relatively high levels of pre-COVID-19 performance, students are about one to five months behind due to the pandemic, while in North America and Europe students are, on average, four months behind.

Again, for instance, in low-income prepandemic-challenged systems with very low levels of pre-COVID-19 learning, students may be about three to eight months behind due to the pandemic, but in sub-Saharan Africa, students are on average six months behind.

“Pandemic-affected middle-income systems, with moderate levels of pre-COVID-19 learning, where students may be nine to 15 months behind (for example, Latin America and South Asia, where students are, on average, 12 months behind,” the report added.

According to the report, the pandemic also increased inequalities within systems, as it widened gaps between majority Black and majority White schools, especially in the United States and increased preexisting urban-rural divides in Ethiopia.

Despite these challenges and negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the report indicated that school systems could respond across multiple horizons, tailoring their strategies based upon preexisting educational performance, the depth and breadth of learning delays, and system capacity and resources.

The report stated that a lot of ground could be covered by rolling out existing evidence-based interventions at scale—recommitting to core literacy and numeracy skills, high-quality instructional materials, job-embedded teacher coaching, and effective performance management.

For example, an organization renowned for creating technology enabled education systems, NewGlobe’s digital teacher guides provide scripted lesson plans on devices designed for low-infrastructure environments. In Nigeria, students using these tools progressed twice as fast in numeracy and three times as fast in literacy as their peers.

The pandemic also showed, however, that innovation and collaboration can arise out of hardship. Thus, it, therefore, suggested safely reopen schools for in-person learning while ensuring resilience for future disruptions; re-enrollment by encouraging students, families, and teachers to reengage with learning in effective learning environments.

In the area of recovery, there is the need to support students as they recover from the academic and social-emotional impacts of the pandemic, starting with an understanding of each student’s needs, while countries should recommit to quality education for every child by doubling down on the fundamentals of educational excellence and innovating to adapt.

Facebook Comments