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Report: Covid-19 sheds $17tr earnings from global economies

 Facts have emerged on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on global economies and students’ earnings.

Report published by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF has shown that this  generation of students now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as a result of Covid-19 pandemic-related school closures.   

The new projection reveals that the impact is more severe than previously thought, and far exceeds the $10 trillion estimates released in 2020.

The ‘State of the Global Education Crisis: A path to Recovery’  report shows that in low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in Learning Poverty, already 53 per cent before the pandemic – could potentially reach 70 per cent given the long school closures and the ineffectiveness of remote learning to ensure full learning continuity during school closures.

“The COVID-19 crisis brought education systems across the world to a halt,” said Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education. “Now, 21 months later, schools remain closed for millions of children, and others may never return to school. The loss of learning that many children are experiencing is morally unacceptable. And the potential increase of Learning Poverty might have a devastating impact on future productivity, earnings, and well-being for this generation of children and youth, their families, and the world’s economies.”

Simulations estimating that school closures resulted in significant learning losses are now being corroborated by real data. For example, regional evidence from Brazil, Pakistan, rural India, South Africa, and Mexico, among others, show substantial losses in math and reading. Analysis shows that in some countries, on average, learning losses are roughly proportional to the length of the closures. 

However, there was great heterogeneity across countries and by subject, students’ socioeconomic status, gender, and grade level. For example, results from two states in Mexico show significant learning losses in reading and in math for students aged 10-15. The estimated learning losses were greater in math than reading, and affected younger learners, students from low-income backgrounds, as well as girls disproportionately.

The report said that barring a few exceptions, the general trends from emerging evidence around the world align with the findings from Mexico, suggesting that the crisis has exacerbated inequities in education.

“Children from low-income households, children with disabilities, and girls were less likely to access remote learning than their peers. This was often due to lack of accessible technologies and the availability of electricity, connectivity, and devices, as well as discrimination and gender norms,” it said.

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