Building back better to avert a learning catastrophe
Estimating learning loss from COVID-19 school shutdowns in Africa and facilitating short-term and long-term learning recovery
Angrist, N., de Barros, A., Bhula, R., Chakera, S., Cummiskey, C. P., DeStefano, J., Floretta, J., Kaffenberger, M., Piper, B. L., & Stern, J. M. B. (2021). Building back better to avert a learning catastrophe: Estimating learning loss from COVID-19 school shutdowns in Africa and facilitating short-term and long-term learning recovery. International Journal of Education and Development, 84(102397), Article 102397. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2021.102397
We model learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for cost-effective strategies to build back better. Data from Early Grade Reading Assessments in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, and Uganda suggest half to over a year’s worth of learning loss. In modeling losses over time, we found that learning deficits for a child in grade 3 could lead to 2.8 years of lost learning by grade 10. While COVID-19 has stymied learning, bold, learning-focused reform consistent with the literature reviewed in this paper—specifically reform on targeted instruction and structured pedagogy—could improve learning even beyond pre-COVID-19 levels.