Countries that already had a good quality school network – as measured by their students’ performance on the Pisa Global Test – have managed to reduce the number of days closed due to the pandemic, a report recently released by the OECD (group of 38 rich and emerging countries).
“In other words, education systems with lower learning outcomes have already lost more learning opportunities in 2020,” said Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills for the organization.
A stronger education network explains 54% of the variation in the number of days secondary schools were closed last year, according to the report, and it’s not just because countries are richer or because they were less affected by the pandemic.
Even when the numbers are controlled by GDP per capita, the quality of education explains 31% of the variation, and there are those who have reopened countries with previously high infection rates.
“What makes the difference is that in these countries there is a structured and reliable educational network capable of creating safe environments more quickly,” says Schleicher.
Among the 38 OECD countries, the number of days primary and secondary schools were closed last year ranged from less than 20 in Denmark to almost 180 in Costa Rica – the group average was 68 days.
Austria and Italy, European countries that are not among those with the highest marks in Pisa, canceled face-to-face classes for almost three months, while Ireland, Finland and North Korea – with high learning performance – have not reached two months.
“This means that the crisis has not only amplified educational inequalities within countries, but it is likely that it has also widened the performance gap between different countries,” said the director of the OECD.
For Schleicher, there is no doubt that the suspension of classes affects the education of children and young people.
“Learning is a social phenomenon; schools are not only a place for the transmission of academic knowledge, but also for human contact and for the training of various other skills, ”he said.
While it is difficult to predict exactly how the lockdowns will affect the future development of students, the OECD cited estimates from last year by economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. According to them, each lost learning trimester, considering students from grades 1 to 12, would result in a 3% loss of income over their entire working life.
According to economists, this represents a long-term cost ranging from US $ 504 billion (2.868 billion reais) in South Africa to US $ 14.2 trillion (80.82 billion reais) in the United States, all the three lost months of apprenticeship.
On a personal level, Schleicher says, the impact of the changes imposed by the pandemic must also have been different. “For those students who were able to integrate into online education and learn to learn on their own, it may have been liberating. But for those who lacked resources and support, it was devastating.
The survey shows that most countries have tried to make adaptations to maintain learning even with the restrictions of the pandemic, with the use of online courses, television and radio programs, face-to-face classes at venues. open or an increase in school days.
According to the OECD survey, on February 1 of this year, three countries had all grade levels functioning normally: Japan, New Zealand and Norway. There were 60% of those who had already returned to primary education, fully or partially, and 7 out of 10 had open preschools.
Despite the damage caused by the pandemic, Schleicher said he hoped the crisis had brought about positive change. First, parents have come to understand the difficulties in teaching and learning more clearly.
“Even before the pandemic, schools were more and more service providers and parents, clients and everyone wanting to push the problem to each other,” he said. The OECD director said there could be a gain in greater involvement of parents in their children’s learning.
“It doesn’t mean spending three hours helping with homework, but showing that you consider education to be important. The simple question “how was your day at school” brings many more benefits. “