By 1950, globally, only about half of the adults were in school; today it is at least 85%. Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of school-age children who did not go to school fell from 26% to 17%. Yet the rise in attendance, according to the World Bank, masked a stark truth: Many students spent years behind desks and learned almost nothing. In fact, in 2019 the World Bank conducted a survey to identify the number of children who, despite having completed primary school, could not read: it found that less than half of ten-year-olds in developing countries (where they live 90% of the world children) can read and understand a simple story.
And then comes the pandemic, which takes away all the lessons! Hundreds of millions of students stay at home trying to get a hint of distance learning continuity. The closure of schools was, at least initially, a precaution dictated by two reasons: It was not yet known how vulnerable children were to Covid-19 and whether they could spread the virus to the elderly. In fact, schools have only been reopened in a few countries. For example, more than 80% of school days in Latin America and South Asia have been interrupted by closures of some kind. Even today, school doors in some countries, such as the Philippines, are still locked for most students. The story of King Norvic Tarroyo’s economist is emblematic. King, eight years old, lives with his parents and five siblings in a slum near the waterfront in Manila and has not set foot in a school since March 2020. Twenty-seven months after her schooling, like thousands of others across the country, she remains closed. A year ago, the teachers gave him one Tablet for distance learning. But her mother says she only uses it a few hours a day. Then he pretends to be dozing or wandering around the alleys near his house. Mom sometimes does his homework for him …
However, we must not be too scandalized. Even in Italy is the closure of schools produces those who, in a conversation I had on the subject, have been defined as “le chops from Covid “, that is, and here I draw from the Treccani vocabulary,” in the jargon of young people, an incompetent or ignorant person. “And in support of this statement, here is one of the dozens of anecdotes I have collected. Family gathered in a cozy restaurant on the lake from Bolsena. Guest is the very sweet and very polite girlfriend of her youngest son of both sixteen. The girl sends a message to her parents to reassure them about where she is and to enlarge the place But she unfortunately gets the opposite result. The father is very excited. How is it? “Hi Dad, I’m with XY’s parents and we went to dinner in Bolzano …”.
Let’s go back to the sad numerical reality. According to the report “The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery”, published last December by the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, this generation of students risks losing 17 trillion as a result of school closures in connection with the pandemic. dollars in earnings (at present value) over a lifetime, or about 14% of global GDP, as a result of school closures associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The new projection reveals that the impact is more severe than previously thought and far exceeds the estimates of $ 10 trillion published in 2020.
The World Bank has also announced in recent days that the fateful number of illiterates has in fact gone from 57% in 2019 to around 70%. And that the figures for the December 2021 report have risen again, ie billion lost earnings have become 21, equivalent to 20% of global GDP today.
We can not close our eyes to what a global emergency is. There is no human problem that cannot be remedied by investigation. If the damage the pandemic has inflicted on education is not resolved, it will be much harder to achieve many of the goals of a world improve.
Politics talks about the importance of school forever, but words cost little, while a contemporary education system costs a lot. World spending on basic education had risen, albeit slightly, until 2019, and then fell during the pandemic.
The university education sector has also been disrupted. Students have returned home, staff have been reduced, and many academics work from home. Even with the reopening, life at the universities does not seem to be what it used to be. The universities that received many foreign students are experiencing the collapse of enrollments, but also those that had local students but who came from distant cities. To solve this problem, they intend to make at least part of the online teaching. The consequences of these changes will be far-reaching. With family incomes shaken by the economic crisis, some universities may have their accounts in the red, while others will have to completely rethink what we might call theirs. business model.
According to the English author HG Wells, the history of mankind is’a competition between education and disaster. Today, the latter unfortunately has the advantage again.