Poverty in learning rises to 70 percent, inequality rises

by dr. Gyan Pathak

Global learning poverty has further increased to 70 percent by 2022, with the largest increase in South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the simulation result based on the most recent available data and evidence. It means that the world lost profits in 2000-2015, when it fell from 61 percent to 53 percent.

“The State of Global Learning Poverty: 2022 Update,” drafted jointly by six organizations — World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, FCDO, USAID and BILL & Melinda Gates Foundation — says the high rate of learning poverty indicates that education systems are failing to address that children. develop essential basic skills and thus are far from achieving, and in many cases are not on track to achieve the SDG 4 goal of universal quality education for all by 2030. This makes it much more difficult for children to acquire the technical and higher-order skills needed to thrive in increasingly demanding labor markets, and for countries to develop the human capital needed for sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Very high levels of learning poverty violate children’s right to education, the update emphasizes.

Learning poverty increased even before the general closure of schools in February 2020 – February 2022 due to the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, when the learning poverty indicator was first launched, it is estimated that between 2015 and 2019 the learning poverty rate had already increased by 4 percent to 57 percent in low- and middle-income countries, a category in which India falls. Since India is the most populous country in South Asia, one of the two worst-suffering regions, India is clearly one of the countries that suffer the most.

The update comes just two days after the World Bank approved additional $250 million funding for Outcomes for Accelerated Learning (GOAL), a program that aims to improve educational outcomes for children in Gujarat, the only state in India where such a program exists. . be implemented. The education system in Gujarat has nearly 12 million students, 65 percent of whom are in remote regions of ‘priority districts’. After the COVID-19 crisis, the state estimated the learning loss at about 10 percent, with students in priority areas disproportionately affected. The most recent financing is in addition to the original $500 million loan approved in March 2021. This Rapid Response Framework aims to reach and keep every child in school, assess the regularity of learning levels, prioritize teaching the fundamentals, increase catch-up education and develop psychological health for students and teachers. The additional funding will scale up coverage from the original 9,000 to 12,000 schools.

It should be noted that India is home to nearly 25 percent of the world’s children (more than 2.2 billion), and not only students from Gujarat but from all states of the country are in need of such programs to overcome learning poverty . The recent data available for a few countries, for example for the state of Karnataka in India, shows learning losses equal to the magnitude of school closure – meaning that a year of school closure is equivalent to about a year of normal learning not achieved or forgotten. , says the update. The global average of personal education closures was 141 days with the highest of 273 days in South Asia.

The update goes on to say that the actual learning data now emerging from numerous countries shows that there have been very large learning losses. More recent results from both low- and upper-middle-income countries point to even greater losses. For example, it says that in India between 2017 and 2021, the average language and math scores for 5th graders on the national assessment fell.

In response to the school closures, countries resorted to distance learning, but due to a lack of connectivity and the existence of a wide digital divide, the efforts proved to be very unsuccessful and insufficient to compensate for the learning loss. It failed for most students, and only for the wealthier segments of the population – those with broadband connectivity, access to devices for use by every family member, a place to study, availability of books and learning materials, and a conducive home environment, among others. conditions – were able to maintain a reasonable level of educational involvement. It increases inequality in education.

The latest update even quotes a 16-year-old student Shirin Rajesh from India as saying: “…Schools have not cut back much on their curriculum expectations and “ineffective” learning is detrimental to students in the long run… It is a battle for the endless list of assignments, especially with teenage mental health problems that are at an all-time high.

Based on recent experience accelerating learning at scale, UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank also recently proposed the RAPID strategy for learning recovery and acceleration. It gives a specific example of Gujarat, which has modified the entire curriculum for the first quarter of the academic year to focus on basic learning. The results of the Periodic Assessment Tests (PAT), a weekly assessment that began before the pandemic, were used to tailor distance education to each student’s level during school closures. In addition, Gujarat has used a mix of low- and high-tech interventions to provide personalized, adaptive education to each student.

Ten-year-olds unable to read and understand a simple story, rising to 7 out of 10, is very high in low- and middle-income countries with exacerbated educational inequalities. We have limited time to act decisively to restore and accelerate learning, but without urgent action to reduce it, we face a learning and human capital catastrophe, summarizes the update. If children do not acquire the basic skills of literacy – along with numeracy and other fundamental skills – the futures of hundreds of millions of children around the world and their societies are at serious risk. However, our action requires strong political commitment and the implementation of evidence-based approaches for rapid impact.

Without action, the current generation now risks losing $21 trillion in cash value lifetime earnings, or equivalent to 17 percent of current global GDP. In low- and middle-income countries, this represents an annual loss of $975 per person. To recover from this massive shock of rising inequality in education, we need broader national coalitions of families, educators, civil society, business and other government ministries with strong political will, the update said. National obligations in the field of education require that all actors align themselves in the design and implementation of reforms with the sole aim of improving the education and well-being of children and young people – not the views or interests of political parties or unions, nor the interests of suppliers, vendors, or providers, or other stakeholders in education, but only in the interest of students. (IPA service)

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