The Straits Times says

Critical need to catch up on lost learning

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It is a spot of good news that as the new school year starts in countries in the northern hemisphere - including in the Philippines in South-east Asia - many schools are throwing their doors open to students for in-person learning. There is nothing like being in a classroom, getting face-to-face guidance from teachers and interacting with peers for effective learning. School closures and remote learning in the last 2½ years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have taken a toll on schoolchildren in terms of lost learning, mental stress, lost opportunities to learn social skills and, for some, missed school meals which were their only reliable source of food and nutrition. So there is much to cheer about going back to the classroom this new school year.

Yet, merely reopening schools and continuing with lessons is not enough to make up for what has been lost and to narrow the gap between those who have fallen behind and those who were less affected by closures. Remote learning was an inadequate substitute for in-person learning and disadvantaged children suffered more as they often lacked Internet access or devices needed for such learning. The enormity of the task can be seen in the effects that closures had, particularly in less well-off countries. While 57 per cent of 10-year-olds in low- and middle- income countries could not read a simple story before the pandemic hit, the figure is estimated to have risen to 70 per cent, according to the World Bank. As a result of missed learning and skills development, today's generation of students could lose US$17 trillion (S$23.6 trillion) in lifetime earnings, according to Unesco.

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