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News Ticker

Covid learning loss has been a global disaster

Elementary students attend the first day of physical classes in almost two years at Longos Elementary School in Alaminos, Pangasinan province, Philippines, on Nov. 15, 2021. PHOTO: Washington Post/Ezra Acayan/Getty

Millions of children are still out of school. The costs are stacking up

7 July 2022

THE ECONOMIST — King norvic tarroyo lives with his parents and five siblings in a slum near the sea wall in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The eight-year-old has not set foot in a school since March 2020, when classrooms closed as a precaution against covid-19. Twenty-seven months later his school, like thousands of others across the country, remains shut. A year ago teachers gave him a tablet computer for remote learning. But his mother says he uses it for only a few hours each day. After that, he pretends to snooze or scampers into alleys near his home. His mum sometimes does his schoolwork for him.

The Philippines’ response to covid-19 has been terrible for its children. For the first seven months of the pandemic the country’s 27m pupils received no classes of any kind. For more than a year children in much of the Philippines were not even supposed to leave their homes. Since the start of 2022 about 80% of government schools have been granted permission to restart some limited face-to-face lessons. But not all of them have chosen to do so. Perhaps two-thirds of children have not yet been invited back to school at all.

When covid-19 first began to spread around the world, pausing normal lessons was a forgivable precaution. No one knew how transmissible the virus was in classrooms; how sick youngsters would become; or how likely they would be to infect their grandparents. But disruptions to education lasted long after encouraging answers to these questions emerged. […]

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