A World Bank official says educational poverty has increased in India

World Bank Global Director for Education Jamie Saavedra says post-COVID-19 education for children needs to be accelerated.

World Bank Country Director for Education Jamie Saavedra says post-COVID-19 education for children needs to be accelerated.

The World Bank’s Director of Education, Jaime Saavedra, was in India last week to meet with Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the governments of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to raise concerns about the loss of education for children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to raise funds. consider. these shortcomings. In conversation with Yagriti Chandra, she talks about the impact of school closures in India, the need for re-registration campaigns and the assessment of the level of education when schools reopen after two years, and calls for investment in education technology to improve classroom teaching.

What was the program of your trip to India?

We met with the Minister of Education [Dharmendra Pradhan] to share with him that as the World Bank we focus on the work that is needed both globally and in different countries, and to address the educational losses from the impact of the pandemic on education systems around the world. Around the world, we lived in a learning crisis even before the pandemic. Now, with this huge blow that we have left our two-year-olds in school, it has had a significant impact on their education and well-being. Obviously, they share these concerns, and we will work with them to accelerate the learning process. We visited Gujarat, which is making great strides in accelerating the educational recovery process. We visited their command and control center, where they monitor both teachers and students to see how they can better support them. Then, we were at the UP to see the schools and had meetings in Delhi with NGOs and think tanks. This is in the context of the World Bank’s tremendous support for India, which has a $ 2.1 billion portfolio to the country.

What is your assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on education in India?

We see the impact of the pandemic in all countries, but it is undoubtedly in countries where the closure was the longest, such as South Asia and Latin America. According to our study poverty estimates, we found that if before the pandemic about 53% of children under the age of 10 could not read plain text, which is already a crisis, unfortunately with a pandemic it has reached 70. %. In India, poverty has risen from 54% to 70%. We have no real data, these are simulations.

According to an ASER Pratham survey, in rural Karnataka, the share of 3rd grade students in public schools who are able to implement simple design has decreased from 24% in 2018 to 16% in 2020. school closures.

In São Paulo, a year after the pandemic, there was a decline in scores in both study and math, bringing the state’s children back to 2011 levels. This is a training loss for 10 years. This is a concern for all of us.

We must therefore be careful not to create inequalities between generations. If we don’t do it now, this generation will be harmed compared to the previous and next generation only because they were born in specific years and were between 5 and 18 years old. If we don’t do it now, this generation will have low productivity, low incomes and low well-being in the future, and that’s something we need to avoid.

How can schools work to address education gaps?

The first measure is to open schools. In most countries, schools are now open, but there are still schools that are only partially open. However, the opening of schools does not mean that children will return automatically. We need to apply to each child so that they can all be re-registered. We need very aggressive registration campaigns, communication campaigns [both] macro levels, such as national and state levels as well as community levels, so that they can take steps to get children back to school. [as] many children are now working or doing housework . In the the second key action is to evaluate learning to know where children are. Third, we need to prioritize basic education . Many countries have very rich and dense curricula that have many subjects, but we need to make sure that at least initially children focus on the basics. Fourth, we need to increase inclusive education, which requires very effective teaching time. [To achieve this] teachers require a lot of support to classify students within the classroom not by class or age, but by their location. And finally, we really need to work for emotional support for both children and teachers .

Surveys showed that many students were forced to drop out of private schools and attend public schools due to declining household incomes. However, there are many quality deficiencies in private and public schools. How can governments react to this transition?

This is something we see around the world. Two things happened _ small private schools were closed and parents could not afford to pay. This has put more pressure on public schools. This can be a mixed blessing. Public and private schools need to improve the quality of their offerings to meet the needs of these children and increase their resources or increase the effectiveness of their resources or a combination of both.

In response to the pandemic, there has been a serious move by the Indian government to digital literacy. But given that there are problems with access, leading to an increase in losses for those on the sidelines, is this a step in the right direction?

The fact that education television and radio are back after years of dropping is a good development. We need such sustainable systems because we do not know what the future will be like. On the digital front, educational technology as a whole has the potential of a great equalizer, but it is still divisive around the world. This distribution should be closed by all countries with investments not in software or hardware but in the whole ecosystem. But investing in educational technology is not the answer in itself. The pandemic has taught us that the magic of learning takes place in the relationship between students and teachers, which can never be replaced by technology. But technology complements the human factor to make the work of teachers more efficient and effective.

While there are calls to allocate more budget to the education sector to address the problem caused by COVID-19, but in a situation where this is lacking, what is the way out?

In many cases, the first line of action is to spend the money you have and spend it efficiently and effectively. Now around the world, although we need more resources to access education for every student, but [lack of increased allocations] can be an excuse. In the short term, we need to be more effective and focus on children’s learning.

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