Closure of schools in India due to COVID may cause loss of over $400 billion in future earnings, says World Bank

New Delhi: As schools in India are closed due to the COVID outbreak, a report by World Bank suggests that the prolonged closure of schools in the country may cause a loss of over $400 billion in future earnings, besides substantial learning losses.

Quoting the World Bank report, news agency PTI reported that South Asia region stands to lose $622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario or up to $880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario.

The report added that while the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP.

Titled as “Beaten or Broken? Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia”, the report claims that South Asia is set to plunge into its worst-ever recession in 2020 as the devastating impacts of COVID on the region’s economies linger.

“Temporary school closures in all South Asian countries have had major implications for students. They have kept 391 million students out of school in primary and secondary education, further complicating efforts to resolve the learning crisis. While most governments have made enormous efforts to mitigate the impact of school closures, it has been difficult to engage children through remote learning initiatives,” the report quoted the World Bank as saying.

The pandemic may also cause up to 5.5 million students to drop out from the education system and cause substantial learning losses, which will have a lifetime impact on the productivity of a generation of students, the report mentioned.

“Most school systems closed in March, and — though there are important exceptions — countries are starting to reopen or have already opened their schools. Children have been out of school for approximately 5 months. Being out of school for that long means that children not only stop learning new things, they also forget some of what they have learned. The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS), falling from 6.5 LAYS to 6.0 LAYS, an enormous setback from recent advances in schooling,” it said.

The Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling’ (LAYS) concept, introduced by the World Bank, seeks to combine access and learning outcomes into a single measure, PTI reported.

It combines quantity (years of schooling) and quality (how much kids know at a given grade level) into a single summary measure of human capital in a society.

The report, according to the report, has projected that based on country data on household labour incomes, the average child in South Asia may lose $4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5 per cent of total earnings.

“These projections are based on what we currently know about returns to schooling, using the reduced level of learning caused by the crisis. Summing these numbers for all children in South Asia, the region stands to lose $622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario, or up to $880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario.

“While the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP. For reference, note that South Asian governments spend only $400 billion per year in total on primary and secondary education. The total loss in economic output from the current closures is hence substantially higher than what countries currently spend on education,” the World Bank said.

Meanwhile, India’s COVID tally has reached 73.07 lakh, while 63,83,441 people have recuperated so far pushing the national recovery rate to 87.35 per cent.

According to the Health Ministry of India, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases. However, infections are rising rapidly in states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Yet, India’s recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 87.4 per cent.

The government of India has also allowed multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres to reopen from Thursday within the framework of a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav has tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Russia had granted regulatory approval to a second COVID vaccine, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced at a government meeting on Wednesday. Putin congratulated scientists for approving the new jab which has been developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute and completed early-stage human trials last month.

The global tally of coronavirus cases stands at 38,729,174. While 29,113,040 have recovered, 1,096,320 have died so far. The US, the worst-hit country, has 8,148,928 cases. It is followed by India, which has 7,307,097 cases, Brazil (5,141,498) and Russia (1,340,409).


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