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Simulating the Potential Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures on Schooling and Learning Outcomes: A Set of Global Estimates

João Pedro Azevedo (), Amer Hasan, Diana Goldemberg, Koen Geven and Syedah Aroob Iqbal

World Bank Research Observer, 2021, vol. 36, issue 1, 1-40

Abstract: This paper presents simulations of the potential effect of COVID-19-related school closures on schooling and learning outcomes. It considers four scenarios—varying in both the duration of school closures and the effectiveness of any mitigation strategies being deployed by governments. Using data on 174 countries, the analysis finds that the global level of schooling and learning will fall substantially. School closures could result in a loss of between 0.3 and 1.1 years of schooling adjusted for quality, bringing down the effective years of basic schooling that students achieve during their lifetime from 7.8 years to between 6.7 and 7.5 years. Close to 11 million students from primary up to secondary education could drop out due to the income shock of the pandemic alone. Exclusion and inequality will likely be exacerbated if already marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as girls, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, are more adversely affected by school closures. Students from the current cohort could, on average, face a reduction of $366 to $1,776 in yearly earnings. In present value terms, this amounts to between $6,680 and $32,397 dollars in lost earnings over a typical student's lifetime. Globally, a school shutdown of 5 months could generate learning losses that have a present value of $10 trillion. By this measure, the world could stand to lose as much as 16 percent of the investments that governments make in the basic education of this cohort of students. In the pessimistic and very pessimistic scenarios, cumulative losses could add up to between $16 and $20 trillion in present value terms. Unless drastic remedial action is taken, the world could face a substantial setback in achieving the goal of halving the percentage of learning poor by 2030.

Keywords: COVID-19; Learning Losses; Schooling (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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