Author(s): Azevedo, João Pedro; Hasan, Amer; Goldemberg, Diana; Iqbal, Syedah Aroob
Organisation(s): World Bank
Pages: 57 p.
School closures due to COVID-19 have left over a billion students out of school. Governments are pursuing a variety of approaches to mitigate school closures. At the same time, all countries are undergoing the largest economic contractions of our lifetime, reducing public budgets and household incomes. What effect might this perfect storm have on schooling attainment and learning? This paper presents the results of simulations considering different lengths of school closure (3, 5, and 7 months) and different levels of mitigation effectiveness (mostly remote learning), resulting in an optimistic, intermediate, and pessimistic global scenario. Using data on 157 countries, the authors find that both the global level of schooling as well as learning will fall. COVID-19 could result in a loss of between 0.3 and 0.9 years of schooling adjusted for quality, bringing down the effective years of basic schooling that students achieve during their lifetime from 7.9 years to between 7.0 and 7.6 years. Close to 7 million students from primary up to secondary education could drop out due to the income shock of the pandemic alone. As closures continue in low- and middle-income countries, the pessimistic scenario is more likely. Exclusion and inequality will likely be exacerbated if already marginalized and vulnerable groups, like girls, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, are more adversely affected by the school closures. The findings underscore the need for swift policy responses to offset the learning losses resulting from the pandemic and accelerate learning by building more equitable and resilient post-COVID education systems, that enable children to learn continuously both in schools and at home.