looking back and leading forward in post-COVID19 learning recovery

The pandemic experience can be a catalyst for improving education for all children. Photo: Shutterstock

Note the fourth International Education Day combating the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our current generation of students that at the peak of school closures has disrupted the education of more than 1.6 billion children and youth around the world. We live “crisis in crisis”.

Back in January 2021, we celebrated this day with a blog by World Bank Managing Director Marie Pangest: “Using the Promises of Innovation in Education,” in which she sounded alarm about the consequences of the unfolding crisis and highlighted the opportunities offered by innovative approaches. on providing distance education during a pandemic. Related topic: Urgent, effective measures needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on education worldwide – already then pointed to the huge potential loss of learning and called for immediate action to address this impact and invest in returning more efficient, equitable and sustainable education systems .

Much has happened in 12 months, but two things are now clear: (i) losses in training and subsequent social and economic costs are significant; (ii) urgent and ambitious measures are needed to recoup losses and accelerate learning.

By the end of 2021, evidence of the unprecedented scale of the educational crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was indisputable. In our joint report on the state of the education crisis with UNESCO and UNICEF, we updated our estimates of the economic costs of learning losses: this generation could lose $ 17 trillion in lifelong income (current value) or about 14 percent of today’s world GDP, due to school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic shocks. This new forecast far exceeds our $ 10 trillion estimates published in 2020. Moreover, in low- and middle-income countries, the proportion of children living in learning poverty – already 53 per cent before the pandemic – could reach 70 per cent given the long closure of schools and the inefficiency of distance learning to ensure continuity education for young children. Recent data also point to a catastrophe of inequality that is brewing: between generations, socio-economic groups, places and countries.

The chorus of voices at the international level is alarming for politicians to act now and decisively. In late 2021, UNICEF President Henriette Faure and World Bank Group President David Malpas delivered a strong message to end education losses from the pandemic, and stressed that By investing in the resumption of learning and wise use of technology, we can turn the problems and lessons of the pandemic into a catalyst to achieve the goal of the SDGs – quality education for all children .

We are entering the third year of the pandemic, armed with new data and lessons on how countries ensure continuity of learning and recovery in the midst of the spread of highly contagious Omicron, as well as updated guidelines and tools for: safely opening and maintaining open schools, making distance learning more Effectively, measures learning losses and evaluates distance learning, supports teachers, and develops and implements robust evidence-based and inclusive learning recovery plans. Our educational team in collaboration with several partners is actively contributing to the global knowledge base in this field. Below is a very selected selection of links to these resources.

As our teams and policymakers use this knowledge to take aggressive action to bring all students back to school and deploy ambitious resumption programs, we cannot forget to listen to the advice and lessons shared by the students themselves. Last year, more than 400 high school students from 62 countries on all continents, with different social, cultural and economic backgrounds, told us about their learning experiences during COVID-19 and shared their ideas on how to improve the learning experience. Once again, we want to hear from you.

At the same time, allow me to share my own views on what it takes to get out of this crisis and rebuild better, more efficient, fairer and more sustainable education systems:

  1. To realize the future of learning, where learning does not stop at the walls of the school, we must be guided by the fact that children learn better when they feel joy, rigor and purpose in the learning process. Sustainability and equity in education are two sides of the same coin. Distance education should harness the power of communication and meaningful two-way interactions between teachers and students, and engage and support parents as partners to ensure both continuity of learning and the socio-emotional well-being of children, especially in the early years.
  2. While not a magic bullet, educational technology can be an effective tool for expanding access to learning both in the classroom and beyond, creating more sustainable systems that personalize learning in and out of school. To realize this potential, investment in EdTech must be embedded in broad, sustainable policies and programs that enable schools and education systems to accelerate learning with a relentless emphasis on equity. Digital learning should be a great equalizer, not what it used to be: a big divider.
  3. Every effort should be made to improve the effectiveness of teachers through continuous and effective feedback on how to improve their pedagogy, structured lesson plans and strategies for educating social and emotional skills and assessing classroom learning. This support should include expanding their access and opportunities to use technology, including the technical and pedagogical competencies needed for effective distance learning.
  4. We need to end the training data crisis. Collect data and build national capacity to assess what training is actually happening, and to monitor progress, understand driver learning and improve management and provisioning through feedback mechanisms.
  5. As countries use data and evidence to develop more effective policies, they should also seek to invest and improve their ability to implement and deliver services while using partnerships. Without good implementation, good policies will remain good intentions. Local capacity needs to be exploited through cooperation at all levels of government, as well as public-private partnerships.

Selected selection knowledge resources with tips and lessons learned during the pandemic:


  • 100 weeks of the pandemic: the importance of maintaining open schools and investing in resumption of programs, January 24
  • Ensuring Continuity of Learning during COVID-19-Related School Closures: Distance Learning Lessons in More Than 45 Countries, January 24
  • The global educational crisis is even more serious than previously thought, January 4, 2022
  • #AfricaACTs on Education: The Future of West and Central African Children Shaped in Modern Schools, December 13
  • The state of the global educational crisis: the road to recovery, December 11
  • Resumption of Learning: From Emergency Response to Resumption of Better Education for the Future, December 9
  • Raising Recovery: How Students and Systems Fight the New Normal Position in Education (MENA), December 9
  • Protecting and creating human capital in Africa, 1 December
  • As COVID-19 exacerbates inequality of opportunity in Latin America, 23 November
  • Five distance learning lessons during COVID-19, November 18th
  • There is an urgent need to focus on foundational skills, November 8th
  • 7 Steps to Promote Effective Individual Teacher Support, October 28th
  • Children are wrong: three ways EdTech can support student well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic on October 7
  • There will be no recovery without empowered, motivated and effective teachers, 5 October
  • Coach: Improving Teacher Professional Development Without Serving, September 15th
  • Big but invisible cost of closing schools, August 26th
  • How best to support and protect young children during COVID-19? Some lessons, June 22nd
  • Changing the way teachers use technology, June 2nd
  • Back to Learning: Key Policy Actions for School Reconstruction, 27 May
  • Regional Priorities in Skills and Technical Education in the Eastern Caribbean in COVID-19, 13 May
  • COVID-19 highlights the urgency of TPVP reforms, 15 April
  • Mission: Resumption of Education 2021, March 29
  • Time to return to training, March 24th
  • Urgency and opportunity to return to training, January 24


  • The state of the global educational crisis: the road to recovery, December 2021
  • Twin Reports: Distance Learning during the Global School Blockade: Lessons in Multiple Countries and Distance Learning during COVID-19: Lessons from Today, Principles of Tomorrow, November 2021
  • Information on the development of education, October 2021
  • Higher Education Management: Towards Sustainable Systems for All, September 2021
  • What is learning poverty ?, April 2021
  • Mission: Resume Education in 2021, March 2021
  • Better jobs and a brighter future: investing in childcare to build human capital, March 2021
  • Education Finance Watch (EFW), February 2021
  • Realizing the future of learning, January 2021
  • Rethinking Human Connections: Technology and Innovation in Education at the World Bank, December 2020


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