The pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in education delivery around the world. If we don’t address them, the opportunity to transform the life chances of millions of children, especially in poor countries will be missed, warns Andy Brock.
More than 168M schoolchildren in 14 countries have missed a whole year of classroom learning because their schools have remained largely closed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Studies from previous extended school closures in developing countries, such as those forced by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, have shown that a break in education of just three months can put back a child’s learning and attainment by 12 months. In many countries, social and economic barriers to education are higher for girls than boys, and loss of learning is especially acute for girls.
Those countries that adopted fast, flexible responses to the pandemic are already seeing their education systems recover. Children whose schooling continued via radio and television, online, or who were taught even intermittently, have lost comparatively less ground than those whose education halted in early 2020.
Experience in the last year points the way for policy and investment post-pandemic, to reform teaching and widen access to education for all children in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.