- Learning loss intensified in last six months affecting 78 lakh pupils
- Secondary level male students are comparatively more affected
- Supplementary off-hours remedial programmes recommended
- Secondary level stipend, edu supporting devices distribution also recommended
Classes as usual will not cover the learning loss schoolchildren endured during the Covid-forced one-and-a-half-year school closure, according to a study.
The findings of the study, jointly conducted by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), were released on Monday in Dhaka, with academics underscoring the need for learning recovery.
They recommended that the government introduce off-hours remedial programmes, and said a national dialogue could be held to determine how the remedial activities are to be carried out.
From March to August this year, the PPRC and BIGD, in their fourth phase of studies, surveyed 4,872 students across the country.
The findings suggest that at least 22% of primary and 30% of secondary students were at risk of losses in learning caused by school closures in both rural areas and urban slums in the six months compared to the previous study phase.
Of the pupils, secondary level students, particularly males, were comparatively more affected by learning losses, said the researchers.
They noted that 26% male students at secondary level were at risk of learning loss in March, a figure which jumped to 34% in August.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of PPRC, and Dr Imran Matin, executive director of BIGD, presented the findings.
"The decision on a reopening of schools was right. However, reopening is not the only solution to catching up on lost learning," said Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman.
Regarding supplementary remedial programmes, he suggested activating community-based learning activities for schoolchildren.
According to educationists, remedial programmes at the grassroots level can be undertaken at publicly-funded community learning centres. The experience of non-governmental organisations in non-formal education could be leveraged at the centres.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said that regular schooling hours must not be curtailed while conducting off-hour remedial programmes.
The researchers suggested the formation of a national taskforce to chart out measures to minimise learning losses.
They also advocated for introducing stipends at the secondary level and distributing education supporting devices among students.
Taking part in the survey, many children said they had not studied at all during the school closure, while some said they had been studying on their own. Other responses from the students included studying irregularly via online classes, studying with family members and studying under thedance of private tutors.
The principal modes of distance learning during the school closure were pre-recorded classes on TV and online, and real-time online classes, which, however, were available to a very small fraction of students in both March and August, according to the survey.
While 56% of primary and 65% of secondary students received private tutoring or coaching in March, the rate declined to 48% and 43% respectively in August.
"Family support in studying also decreased significantly since March, particularly for secondary students, most likely due to the resumption of activities and pressures of earning livelihoods. However, the hybrid method of assignments [a mix of interactive and non-interactive] became the most widely adopted distance-learning tool in August," said the study, noting that child labour in March-August had also surged.