Covid-19 and school closures caused French students to lose a quarter of learning

Covid-19 and school closures caused French students to lose a quarter of learning

Just over three years after the start of the global coronavirus pandemic Covid-19researchers have documented the impact of this disease on learning students from all over the world. And their findings reveal the devastating effects of the pandemic and school closures across the planet. According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Human Behaviorprimary and secondary school children lost a third of what they should have learned in a normal year.

Clearly, French schoolchildren are behind by no less than a quarter of learning. And, still according to the conclusions of the analysis which concerns more than 38 million pupils in 15 countries, all of these young people have still not caught up with this deficit.

The gap between children widened

“The first months of the pandemic largely disrupted the progression of learning, explains Per Engzell, one of the authors of the study. Teachers, parents and children were not prepared for the establishment closures. Children’s ability to learn has also likely been reduced by the lockdowns and economic uncertainties of many families. The authors note, however, the adaptability of the educational community, but also of parents and students, who were able to limit learning deficits as the pandemic continued.

As other studies have already shown, Covid-19 has also widened the gap between children from different socio-economic backgrounds. “The learning crisis is a crisis of equality, notes Bastian Betthäuser, the teacher-researcher who piloted the study. Children from disadvantaged families have been more affected by school closures. They had fewer resources to continue learning at home, such as a quiet place to study or a computer. »

This inequality is found at the global level between rich countries and poor countries, where children have been more affected. Even if in low-income countries, education was already facing big problems before the pandemic.

More surprisingly, these scientists have been able to establish that certain materials have suffered the full force of the crisis. “We observe a greater learning deficit in mathematics than in reading. This is surely due to the fact that parents feel more able to help their children in French than in math,” the researchers point out.

Scandinavian countries fared best

Few countries have passed through the drops. In Sweden, where schools have not been closed, students are experiencing the same performance as in the years before the pandemic. Overall, it is the Scandinavian countries that have done the best.

“In order to allow children to catch up on the delay accumulated during the pandemic, we must provide them with the means to learn outside of school hours, recommend the authors of the study. There are several ways like summer classes, tutoring programs and internet learning platforms. Some countries have already invested in these policies, and it will take some time to measure their impact. If these policies work, and if countries continue to invest in them, the pandemic could be an opportunity to improve the education we want for our children and to reduce its inequalities. »

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