According to Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank’s director of global education, there is no longer any justification to keep schools closed because of the pandemic, and closing schools should be a last resort, even if there are new waves.
Saavedra, whose team is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector, says there is no evidence that reopening schools has led to an increase in coronavirus cases and that schools are not “safe places”. Huh.
He also said that from a public policy perspective, there is no point in waiting until children are vaccinated as there is no science behind it.
“There is no link between school opening and the spread of coronavirus. There is no evidence linking the two and there is no justification for keeping schools closed now. Even if there are new waves of COVID-19, closing schools is the last resort Should be,” Saavedra told PTI in an interview from Washington.
“There is no point in keeping restaurants, bars and shopping malls open and schools closed. There is no excuse,” he said.
According to various World Bank simulations, if schools are opened then the health risk to children is low and the cost of closure is very high.
“During 2020, we were navigating a sea of ignorance. We just didn’t know what was the best way to deal with the pandemic and the immediate response of most countries in the world was to close schools. It has passed. The evidence is coming from the end of 2020 and 2021, we have many waves and there are many countries that have opened schools,” he said.
“We have been able to see whether the opening of schools has had any effect on transmission of the virus and the new data shows that it does not. There were also waves in many counties when schools were closed obviously in some Schools had no role. Spikes.
“Even though children can be infected and this is becoming more so with Omicron, death and serious illness in children are extremely rare. The risks to children are low and the costs are high,” he said.
Asked about the concerns that children are yet to be vaccinated, he said, “There is no country that has put conditions on reopening schools only after children have been vaccinated. Because there is no science behind it and there is no public It doesn’t make sense from a policy point of view.
Talking about the impact of school closures due to the pandemic in India, Saavedra said that “the impact is more severe than ever” and learning poverty is likely to rise much higher than anticipated.
Learning poverty means being unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of 10.
“Learning poverty in India is expected to rise from 55 percent to 70 percent due to a decrease in orientation and out-of-school children. Adjusted learning years of schooling are projected to fall by nearly a full year of schooling, while the average Earnings per student may decline by nine percent in the future in the annual pessimistic scenario.
“In countries like India where inequalities in education were already prevalent before the pandemic and learning poverty levels were already enormous, there is a lot at stake. Nearly two years later, schools remain closed for millions of children. , and others may never return to school.
“The loss of learning that many children are experiencing is morally unacceptable. And the potential escalation of learning poverty could have devastating effects on future productivity, earnings and well-being for this generation of children and youth, their families, and the world. economy,” he said.
Rationalizing curriculum, restructuring the academic calendar, preparing teachers for the big task ahead are among the suggestions the World Bank has to reduce the long-term learning losses caused by the closure of schools during the pandemic.
“There is a critical need to have more data on learning loss from states and across the country. Ideally this data would be in the form of individual student level learning data as the situation is very heterogeneous at the level of children.
“This focus on having personalized learning data aligns with best practices, and is in line with the advice we are currently providing to countries. Again, the numbers we present are World Bank simulations showing that if What happens if priority is not given to reopening the school system. These numbers can be changed if governments can act now.’
A 2020 report by the World Bank of Education, titled “Beaten or Broken? Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia”, predicted that the prolonged closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India would result in 400 US dollars. A loss of more than a dollar can occur. billion in future earnings of the country.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)