The fast (and frightening) facts: Effects of COVID on education

There’s no doubt school closures as a result of COVID had a huge impact on learning opportunities for children and disproportionately affected the poorest and most vulnerable. It’s a crisis that must be prioritized.

Photo credit: Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes Their World

The facts are stark, and frightening:

  • Before COVID, 260 million children were out of primary and secondary school – and 75 million had their education interrupted by conflicts and emergencies.
  • Because of the pandemic, 1.6+ billion children were forced out of the classroom.
  • Without intervention, an estimated 11 million children will not return to school post pandemic.
  • In grades kinder to three, children are still developing the skills to regulate their own behaviour, emotions, and attention, and therefore struggle with distance learning and its implications.
  • Learning poverty has increased by a third in low- and middle-income countries, with an estimated 70 per cent of 10-year-olds unable to understand a simple written text. This rate was 57 per cent before the pandemic.
  • This generation of students now risks losing $21 trillion in potential lifetime earnings in present value, or the equivalent of 17 per cent of today’s global GDP.
  • If we take no action, by 2030, 825 million children – half of all young people in the world – will not have the most basic skills necessary to be engaged citizens of part of the workforce.

So what is being done about it?

Enhancing opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people to access, participate in and achieve a quality education has always been core to our Education Equity program but now post COVID, this is more important than ever. It is also important that there is global and collective action to address the challenge, including from the private sector.

Programs like the Global Business Coalition for Education’s Business Investment for Education Impact project, enabled by the BHP Foundation, work to identify opportunities and partnerships to drive progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (inclusive and equitable quality education for all) by developing new tools and resources to increase the impact of businesses’ investment in education and encouraging more companies to make education a sustainability priority. Their vision is to end the global education crisis.

With a network of more than 150 influential private sector companies committed to best practice in supporting equitable and inclusive quality education, GBC-Education has become one of the world’s most effective forums for connecting businesses that aim to make an impact on the lives of young people through education.

Learn more about the impact of the Business Investment for Education Impact project, including information about over 100 tools and resources that were provided by businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic to support students and communities as well as their plans to expand support to more business in order to ensure every child as the opportunity to go to school and learn.