Using educational transitions to estimate learning loss due to Covid-19 school closures: the case of Complementary Basic Education in Ghana

Author(s): Sabates, Ricardo; Carter, Emma; Stern, Jonathan

Organisation(s): University of Cambridge (UK). Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre

Date: 2020

Pages: 35 p.


Learning loss is expected for millions of children who have been out of school as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, it is uncertain how much learning will be lost and how wide the gaps may be for disadvantaged children. More importantly, we are unsure about the role of parental or home support and whether technologies may play a role in supporting distance learning during this period of extended school closures. This paper uses a unique dataset to respond to some of these questions. In particular, we use longitudinal data that tracked students from a Complementary Basic Education programme through their transition to public, government schools in Ghana. This transition included a three-month period during which children did not have access to formal education. With respect to numeracy, our results show an average learning loss of 66% of the previous learning gains obtained during the CBE programme. More importantly, we have robust evidence of widening gaps in learning loss according to 1) availability of learning activities and reading materials at home, 2) whether children were able to ask for help from adults in the household, and 3) how much effort children reported when undertaking their school work. Our results are indicative of the expected learning loss due to COVID-19 and the widening gaps for children who are unable to get support or learning activities at home.

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