Learning loss from the COVID pandemic is now a global education crisis

Learning loss from the COVID pandemic is now a global education crisis

If left unresolved, the learning crisis could become the worst shock to human capital in recent history.

David Malpass

Opinion Contributor

  • As schools were closed during the pandemic, students saw none of the usual learning gains, despite attempts at remote learning.
  • Up to 70% of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income economies cannot read and understand basic text – so-called “learning poverty”.
  • An expanded academic calendar, instruction based on educational needs, and education funding can help recover learning losses.

The last US scores in math and reading showed worrying declines due to the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures. For many developing countries, the impacts of this shock are even worse, amounting to a learning crisis threatening a generation of children.

As much as 70% of 10 year olds in low- and middle-income economies cannot read and understand basic text – what we call ‘learning poverty’. Learning deficits were already significant before the pandemic, but worsened when COVID-19 crippled education systems around the world. This could lead to massive losses in productivity and potential earnings and jeopardize the future well-being of a generation of children and young people. Governments and the international development community must act quickly and decisively.