The Latin America and Caribbean region has set back more than a decade in terms of education due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank warned on Thursday, calling for measures “to save a generation”.
The region, which was already suffering from a learning crisis before the health emergency declared in 2020, has suffered a “substantial worsening” of the situation, reveals a report released by the World Bank and Unicef, in collaboration with UNESCO.
Due to school closures to prevent the spread of the virus, an entire generation of students, or about 170 million boys and girls, have lost, on average, between one and nearly two years of learning. As a result, four out of five sixth graders will not reach the minimum level of reading comprehension for their age, dropping to levels more than 10 years ago, which could cost current students a 12% reduction in their income. throughout life.
“We are facing an educational catastrophe that forces us to act urgently,” warned Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, vice president of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, when presenting the report during a forum of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.
Jaramillo warned that “this unprecedented educational crisis” jeopardizes the region’s development and increases the risk of deepening inequalities.
The report highlights that projected and actual learning losses are more pronounced for lower grades, younger students and the population with lower socioeconomic status. In addition, it points out that the proportion of “learning poor” has increased from 52% in 2019 to 79% in 2022 due to the pandemic.
“Although most schools in the region have reopened, we see that many children have not been able to return to school full time, and many of those who have returned are lost. In both cases, they are not learning,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director. .
With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America and the Caribbean region has been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, recording more Covid deaths per capita than any other region in the world.
Distance learning, implemented through electronic platforms, TV and radio programs, social networks, text messages or printed material, has not been able to guarantee student participation or the quality of learning, says the report, which points out problems of internet connection, access to technology and socioeconomic vulnerabilities.
“Much more must be done to save this generation,” emphasized Emanuela di Gropello, one of the authors of the report, during the forum. Among the recommendations, the text asks that countries prioritize educational recovery on the public agenda, reintegrate those who defected and guarantee their permanence, and support not only the well-being of students, but also that of teachers.