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At least 70% young students face learning poverty for shut schools, says World Bank

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This generation of students risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 percent of today’s global GDP, as a result of COVID-19-related school closuresAt Least 70% Young Students Face Learning Poverty For Shut Schools, Says  World Bank

More than 70 percent of 10-year-olds in low and middle income economies have slipped into a learning poverty because of the pandemic, risking $17-trillion loss in lifetime earnings for the generation, according to a World Bank estimate.

It will have a lasting impact on future earnings, poverty alleviation, and reducing inequality, the World Bank has said in a note.

One of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the poor and vulnerable can be seen in the field of education. It dealt a severe blow to the lives of young children, students, and youth and further exacerbated inequalities in education, the World Bank wrote.

“Due to prolonged school closures and poor learning outcomes, recent World Bank estimates document that increases in learning poverty – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – could reach 70 percent in low- and middle-income countries,” the agency said in a year-end review note. But it did not give country-specific details.

“In response to the deepening education crisis, the Bank has rapidly ramped up its support to developing countries, with projects reaching at least 432 million students and 26 million teachers – one-third of the student population and nearly a quarter of the teacher workforce in current client countries,” it said.

Reiterating how the pandemic has pushed people into poverty, the World Bank wrote that extreme poverty rose in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years and around 100 million more people are living on less than $1.90 a day.

From uneven economic recovery to unequal access to vaccines, from widening income losses to divergence in learning, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable in 2021. It is causing reversals in development and is dealing a setback to efforts to end extreme poverty and reduce inequality.

Explaining the learning poverty among 10-year-olds, World Bank said that out of every 100 students in the age group, 56 were in learning poverty prior to the pandemic and it has now touched 70. Of this 9 percent are schooling deprived and rest learning deprived. It means, only 30 percent are now not in learning poverty.

Earlier this year, the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF had said in a joint report that this generation of students “now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 percent of today’s global 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.

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Though the World Bank did not mention anything specific about India, several recent surveys had showed how Indian students have suffered a massive learning loss due to the school closures. Though schools have officially opened in most of the states partly or fully, the attendance continues to be low due to the continued fear of the pandemic.