COVID-19-related school closures can lead to a permanent loss in education and cause a loss of $10 trillion in earnings, a World Bank report estimated on Thursday.
“This ($10 trillion) is approximately 16% of the total expenditures in educating these students over all their basic education,” read the report.
Leaving 1.6 billion students out of school in April, the coronavirus crisis is being followed by a deep recession, the bank said.
“Without rapid, decisive, and coordinated action, the crisis threatens to pose a huge setback to hard-won gains in human capital, irreversibly damaging the lifelong opportunities of millions of children,” said Annette Dixon, World Bank’s vice president for human development.
Before the crisis, students were completing an average of 11.2 years of schooling throughout their school-age lives.
The report projected that five months of school closures due to the virus will result in an immediate loss of 0.6 years of schooling adjusted for quality, bringing the effective learning that a student can achieve down from 7.9 years to 7.3 years.
The world is already struggling with a learning crisis, with 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries living in Learning Poverty — being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10.
With the spread of coronavirus, the learning crisis will be even deeper, Jaime Saavedra, World Bank’s global director for education, underlined.
“The effects being simulated show a potential substantial setback to the goal of halving the number of learning poor by 2030 unless drastic remedial action is taken,” said Saavedra.
According to the report, nearly 7 million students from primary and secondary education could drop out of school due to the income shock of the pandemic.
The report highlighted that the combination of being out of school and the loss of family livelihoods may leave girls especially vulnerable, and may exacerbate exclusion and inequality.
School closures lasting five months and the unfolding economic shock could result, in a cut of $872 in yearly earnings for each student, which is equivalent to some $16,000 of lost earnings over a student’s lifetime.