CoLab Weekly (26th June `22)

  • Learning beyond schools

The COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed education systems worldwide; at one point, school closures forced over 1.6 billion learners out of classrooms. Moreover, widespread school closures are not unique to COVID-19: teacher strikes, summer breaks, earthquakes, viruses (such as influenza and Ebola) and weather-related events cause schools to close. School closures result in large learning losses, which have been documented in North America, Western Europe, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

These learning losses include a combination of knowledge that is forgotten over time, and forgone learning that would have occurred if schools were open. To mitigate learning loss in the absence of school, high-income families have access to alternative sources of instruction—books, computers, internet, radio, television and smart phones—that many low-income families do not.

The results in this study have immediate implications for global policy during the current school disruptions, revealing cost-effective and scalable approaches to stem learning loss during the pandemic. Moreover, school closures occur in settings beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, including teacher strikes, summer holidays, public health crises, during adverse weather events, natural disasters, and in refugee and conflict settings. In moments when schooling is disrupted, particularly for families with fewer resources at home, outside-school interventions are needed. Doing so at scale requires cheap, low-technology solutions that can reach as many families as possible. To this end, the results from this study have long-run implications for the role of technology and parents to serve as partial educational substitutes during school disruption, and to provide cost-effective remote instruction and assessment.

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  • Impact of free education