Latin America Faces Lasting Impact of Its ‘Worst Educational Crisis Ever’

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Latin American nations must take immediate action to recover from the worst education crisis in the region’s history due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank said.

About 120 million school-age children had lost, or were at risk for losing, a full academic year of in-person education as of February, the development lender said in a report Wednesday. Learning poverty, or the percentage of 10-year-olds who can’t read or understand a simple text, may have grown by more than 20%, to 62.5% from 51%.

Policies should focus on ensuring that students can participate in blended learning, or the combination of face-to-face and remote education, as schools reopen, the lender said. Fewer than 43% of primary schools and 62% of secondary schools across Latin America have access to the internet for educational purposes.

Learning losses overall may translate into a drop of $1.7 trillion in future potential earnings, or about 10% of baseline earnings, the World Bank said. Dropout in Latin America and the Caribbean may increase by 15%.

“This is the worst educational crisis ever seen in the region, and we are worried that there could be serious and lasting consequences for a whole generation, especially for the most vulnerable sectors,” Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, the lender’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean,, said in a statement. “Governments must take urgent actions to recover the lost ground and seize this opportunity to improve education systems by taking advantage of new technologies.”

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