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


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.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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