WASHINGTON DC, United States (CMC) – The significant loss of learning during COVID-19 school closures in Latin America and the Caribbean is now putting millions of children at risk of dropping out of school, the World Bank, the Inter-American Dialogue, UNESCO and UNICEF warned on Thursday during an event streamed live worldwide.
The heads of state of Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Honduras joined the event dubbed “My Education, Our Future” to express their strong support for education while sharing their national learning recovery efforts and calling on other leaders to join them.
The region’s students have lived through some of the longest, uninterrupted COVID-19 school closures in the world. More than two years into the pandemic, not all students in Latin America and the Caribbean are back in the classroom.
Despite significant efforts made by countries in the region, children who are back at school have fallen, on average, between one and 1.8 years behind, according to new World Bank estimates.
“The education crisis affecting the region is unprecedented. If we do not act now to recover learning losses, an entire generation of children and young people will be less productive in the future and have fewer opportunities for progress and well-being,” said Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and Caribbean.
“According to our estimates, today’s students could see their lifetime earnings decline by as much as 12 per cent. This is the time to act, to prevent these losses, to support the future of the next generation.”
During the “My Education, Our Future” event, the World Bank, the Inter-American Dialogue, UNESCO and UNICEF called for urgent and coordinated action to ensure that an entire generation of children get back on track academically.
To this end, they made public a “Commitment to the recovery and protection of learning in Latin America and the Caribbean”, which relies on four key actions: placing education recovery at the top of the public agenda; reintegrating all the children that abandoned school and ensure they stay in it; recovering lost learning and ensure the socio-emotional well-being of children; and valuing, supporting, and training teachers.
“Today, we urgently call on all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to commit to the recovery and transformation of their education systems,” said Claudia Uribe, director of the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago).
“The loss of learning and well-being that millions of children and young people suffered during the pandemic puts their future and their hope at risk. There is no time to lose to take all necessary measures to repair this damage and prevent its consequences from becoming permanent or irreparable.”