The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to education systems worldwide. At the peak of the pandemic, approximately 1.5 billion learners globally were affected, with schools in many countries closed for months at a time to contain the spread of the virus.
Families, communities and school leaders across the world also suffered, trying to ensure that gaps in learning were minimized. Governments worldwide are continuing to struggle to implement forms of remote learning with equal access for all. The education crisis is being exacerbated globally.
However, a recent landmark White Paper jointly issued by the world’s largest education organizations highlights an important message: the learning crisis was always there.
The learning crisis
Before the pandemic, the World Bank’s Learning Poverty data estimates that 53 percent of students in low and middle-income countries lived in ‘learning poverty’ – defined as the number of 10 year olds in a country unable to read or understand a simple story in their language.
Recent projections by teams at UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank’s Learning Poverty team have estimated that this number will rise due to the pandemic – by approximately 10 percent more.