Author(s): Bayley, Stephen; Wole, Darge; Ramchandani, Paul; Rose, Pauline; Woldehanna, Tassew; Yorke, Louise
Pages: 71 p.
This paper presents the findings of research undertaken in Ethiopia to examine the effects of COVID19 school closures on children’s holistic learning, including both socio-emotional and academic learning. It draws on data collected in 2019 (prior to the pandemic) and 2021 (after schools reopened) to compare primary pupils’ learning before and after the school closures. In particular, the study adapts self-reporting scales that have been used in related contexts to measure Grade 3 and 6 children’s social skills, self-efficacy, emotional regulation and mental health and wellbeing, along with literacy and numeracy. Lesson observations were also undertaken to explore teachers’ behaviours to foster socio-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom. The findings advance current knowledge in several respects. First, they quantify the decline in Ethiopian pupils’ social skills over the period of the school closures. Second, they identify a significant and strong relationship between learners’ social skills and their numeracy, even after taking other factors into account. Third, they reveal a significant association between children’s social skills and their mental health and wellbeing, highlighting the importance of interpersonal interactions to safeguard children’s holistic welfare. The paper concludes by proposing a model for understanding the relationship between learners’ SEL and academic outcomes, and with recommendations for education planning and practice, in Ethiopia and elsewhere.