The Covid-19 pandemic has taken away nearly four months of schooling of the schoolchildren in low and lower-middle-income countries where access to remote learning are not adequate, said a new report by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank.
The report said in high-income countries schoolchildren have lost six weeks of schooling due to the pandemic.
The report collects data from nearly 150 countries between June and October on national education responses to Covid-19. It finds that schoolchildren in low-and lower-middle-income countries were the least likely to access remote learning. They were also the least likely to be monitored on their learning loss and the most likely to have delays to their schools reopening.
Chief of Education of UNICEF Robert Jenkins said, "In low- and lower-middle-income countries, this devastation is magnified as limited access to remote learning, increased risks of budget cuts and delayed plans in reopening have thwarted any chance of normalcy for schoolchildren."
"Prioritising reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical," he added.
According to the report, more than two-thirds of the countries have reopened their school fully or partially. Among them, one in four countries has missed their planned reopening date and most of which are low-and lower-middle-income countries.
Nearly 40 percent of low-and lower-middle-income countries responded that they have faced a decrease in the education budget. Half of the low-income countries said they do not have adequate funds for ensuring health safety measures, the report reads.
"The pandemic will notch up the funding gap for education in low and middle-income countries. By making the right investment choices now, rather than waiting, this gap could be significantly reduced," said Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for education, UNESCO.
The report also finds that almost all countries incorporated remote education through online platforms, TV and radio programmes.
It says there are large scale differences between rich and comparatively poorer countries to provide children and youth effective learning.
"We were worried about learning poverty before the pandemic and also about the inequality in learning opportunities. Now the learning baseline is lower, but the increase in inequality of opportunities could be catastrophic," said Jaime Saavedra, global director for education, World Bank.