During the pandemic, countries around the world closed schools and children faced months or years of home learning. Now, a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behaviour found that school-aged children have lost out on around 35% of their normal learning.
School closures were imposed as a public health measure. Their purpose was to reduce contact and slow the spread of Covid-19, but gaps in students’ learning have emerged and been persistent, and a high number of children and teenagers still feel the impact now.
To analyze the impact of lockdowns, the researchers analyzed data from 42 different studies in 15 countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States.
All of the studies were initially published in March 2020 and August 2022, with the researchers initially looking at the data in April 2021 and updating their findings in August 2022. In both cases, they found significant gaps in children’s learning, and recovery has been slow.
Research Bastian Betthäuser, the author of the paper, said: “Schoolchildren’s learning progress slowed down substantially during the pandemic.
So on average, children lost out on about one-third of what they would have usually learned in a normal school year, and these learning deficits arose quite early in the pandemic. Children still have not recovered from the learning that they lost out on at the start of the pandemic.
He added: Education inequality between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds increased during the pandemic. So the learning crisis is an equality crisis.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds were disproportionately affected by school closures. We systematically reviewed all of the existing research on school children’s learning progress during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And it’s important to note that most of the existing research comes from high- and middle-income countries, whereas there are a few studies from low-income countries.”