COVID-19 Impact Study: Due to the unexpected outbreak of a viral disease, schools and colleges all around the world are shut down for more than ten months now, and recent studies have indicated the negative impact on learning levels of children, with children from disadvantaged backgrounds being affected more severely.
The loss of learning includes the abilities that children have forgotten due to lack of usage, for example, the ability to read with understanding, the ability to write, and the ability to perform basic mathematical operations like addition and multiplication. A recent study was done by the Azim Premji University titled “Loss of Learning during the Pandemic” revealed that 92% of children lost their learning ability, while 82% lost mathematical ability. This loss of learning is not simply the curricular learning that children would have acquired if schools remained open.
The study covered 16067 children in 1137 public schools in 44 districts across 5 states-Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand. COVID-19 Impact Study
Here are 10 things you need to know from the COVID-19 Impact Study;
1. The study was undertaken in January 2021 among children in public schools across primary sections, but significant numbers of children in private schools have also been interrupted by learning loss in the pandemic. The study covered 16067 children in 1137 public schools in 44 districts across 5 states-Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand. It focused on the assessment of four specific abilities each in language and mathematics, across classes two-six.
2. The COVID-19 Impact Study found that at least 92% of children on average had lost one specific language ability from the previous year. These specific abilities include describing a picture or their experiences orally, reading familiar words, reading with comprehension, or writing simple sentences based on a picture.
3. Around 92% of children in class two, 89% in class three, 90% in class four, 95% in class five, and 93% in class six have lost at least one such specific ability from the previous class.
4. Additionally, the study found that at least 82%of children on average lost at least one specific mathematical ability. These abilities include identifying single or two-digit numbers, performing arithmetic operations, using basic arithmetic operations for solving problems, describing 2D/3D shapes, reading and drawing inferences from data.
5. Around 67% of children in class two, 76% in class three, 85% in class four, 89% in class five, and 89% in class six have lost at least one such specific ability from the previous class.
6. The study gives a detailed overview of the percentage of children who have lost specific language abilities. These include analysis done from classes two to six. In class two, 49% of the children lost their ability to express the events happening in a picture, in their own words and 71% of the children lost their ability to identify a word in print (written or printed). While in class four, 61% of children lost the ability to express the gist of a poem upon listening, in their own words and 29% of the children lost the ability to write 4-5 simple sentences on a given picture.
7. Considering the mathematical assessment, 70% of the children from class four lost their ability to identify the greatest/ smallest three-digit number using place value while 67% of the children from Class five lost their ability to find the length of an object using a scale.
The study suggests that supplemental support in the form of bridge courses, extended hours, community-based engagements, and appropriate curricular materials, will be needed to help children gain the foundational abilities when they return to school.
8. To conduct the COVID-19 Impact Study, teachers with prior knowledge and experience were selected while the selection of children was based on discussions with teachers, and efforts were made to cover children across all primary classes that the teacher had taught in the previous year, including both girls and boys. These were children that the teachers were familiar with, and had a good sense of their learning abilities at the time of school closure in March 2020.
9. Some teachers became emotional when they realised that children whom they tagged as ‘intelligent’ and could earlier read fluently, write nicely, and perform operations easily were now struggling with simple questions. “Students of class six could not answer even the story-based questions or get the meaning of the text. The situation with writing is even more troublesome,” said a teacher from Madhya Pradesh. Another teacher from Rajasthan said that their children of classes three and four were able to read, but half of them now forgot to read and the condition of writing has become worse. “Children are unable to write even two to three sentences in the workbook,” said the Rajasthan teacher.
10. The study suggests that supplemental support in the form of bridge courses, extended hours, community-based engagements, and appropriate curricular materials, will be needed to help children gain the foundational abilities when they return to school. It also suggests that teacher capacity to ensure student learning in these unusual circumstances must be in focus. Most importantly, the teachers must be given enough time to compensate for both kinds of learning loss – and we must not rush into promoting children to the next class.