How Covid-19 School Closure Affected learning – UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank Report.
According to a new report, adolescent girls were more disadvantaged than boys as a result of school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a joint report released by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank, 74% of adolescent girls in Kenya reported that household chores distracted them from remote learning.
Teenage pregnancies and early marriages also had an impact on the girls, causing a large number to drop out of school.
According to the report, gender remained a driver of inequality during the school closure, preventing many girls from accessing digital education.
“Girls often have reduced access to devices and internet and have lower ICT knowledge and skills, limiting their ability to access and benefit from remote learning,” it reads.
The youngest learners, those in pre-primary and lower classes, were at a double disadvantage because they were frequently excluded from remote learning.
According to the report “the state of the global education crisis: A path to recovery,” many low- and middle-income countries reopened schools only to close them again after their governments instituted new measures.
In Kenya, for example, schools were partially reopened, with priority given to classes that were scheduled to take national exams.
The Grade 4, Standard 8, and Form 4 students will return on October 12, 2020, while the other students will return in January of this year.
To provide children with learning continuity during the closure, 186 countries around the world implemented remote learning programs.
However, implementation has varied between high- and low-income countries, as well as within countries, between high- and low-income groups.
“Digital divides between urban and rural communities were greatest in eastern and southern Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean,” it reads.
Students with disabilities faced additional challenges when it came to remote learning. According to the report, only 33% of low-income countries, including Kenya, have taken measures to support learners with disabilities.
Sixty per cent of caregivers expressed concern that learners with disabilities would fall behind in their learning because distance learning modalities were inaccessible.
Similarly, only 19% of teachers reported that students with disabilities continued to learn during school closures, while more than twice as many reported that they did not continue to learn.
The report reveals a growing body of evidence that learning losses exist, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
“In Kenya, a non-representative sample of motivated primary schoolchildren who maintained use of the online Math-Whizz tutoring platform before and during the pandemic via Project iMlango lost an equivalent of three and a half months of learning in math,” reads the report
Given the long school closures and the varying quality and effectiveness of remote learning, the share of children living in Learning Poverty in low- and middle-income countries such as Kenya, which was already over 50% before the pandemic, will rise sharply, potentially up to 70%, it adds.
At its peak, Covid-19 disrupted education for 1.6 billion learners, according to Unicef Director of Education Robert Jenkins, and exacerbated the gender divide.
Greater learning losses among girls in some countries, as well as an increase in their risk of child labour, gender-based violence, early marriage, and pregnancy, were witnessed.
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To heal the wounds of this generation, the report must recommend reopening and maintaining schools, target outreach to returning students to school, as well as accelerate learning recovery.
Over 200 million students are educated in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The school closure impacted more than 17 million Kenyan students.
As a result of the closures, students stand to lose $17 trillion in lifetime earnings based on present value. The estimated loss amounts to approximately 14% of global GDP.