COVID-19 & Learning Poverty

As the pandemic continues to disrupt life across the globe, its devastating social impact remains unprecedented, significantly in learning poverty. It has killed more than 1.5 million people, with global novel coronavirus cases over 71.5 million. These are only recorded cases, with actual cases much higher. With more than $16 trillion in the international stimulus package, IMF expects the losses to be $12 trillion or more for the world economy. Gates foundation 2020 Goalkeepers report estimates in terms of GDP; COVID-19 induced recession to be the worst since World War 2, which killed 3 percent of the world’s pre-war population. The pandemic financial costs are twice as high as The Great Recession. Further, based on World Bank research, the pandemic will push an additional 72 million primary school-aged children into learning poverty, i.e., they will not be able to read and understand a simple text by age 10. As COVID-19 cases race past 16 million in the US and 9.8 million in India, the top two countries respectively in total COVID-19 cases, few countries excelled in controlling the spread of the virus. Vietnam and New Zealand stood out, with Vietnam registering less than 1500 cases, a remarkable feat for a country with approx. 96 million population. During this crisis, the proliferation of digitalization within the economy helped many emerging economies do an exceptional job reaching out to ~ 1.1 billion people through direct cash transfers. India stood out with direct cash transfer to 200 million women quickly during the crisis. Based on a World Bank study, out of 720 million primary school children, 382 million are learning poor. Poor learning skills are one of the most significant barriers to eradicating poverty.

Image | Source World Bank Group | The middle Road

“Learning poverty means being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10” 

In 2019, the World Bank and UNESCO Institute for Statistics introduced the concept of Learning Poverty. COVID-19 social impact in the education sector is very depressing. It could increase an additional 72 to 454 million students into learning poverty. Income-induced shocks to the economy are significant enablers of school deprivation significantly through school dropouts. The silver lining is. Finally, COVID-19 vaccines have hit the market. The World Bank is mobilizing a holistic $12 billion in financing for emerging economies to purchase and distribute the vaccines, kits, and other accessories among the citizens. The next few months would be very critical as the mass-scale implementation of these vaccines rolls out globally to understand how safely and equitably the vaccine doses are delivered among civic societies, with frontline workers and senior citizens taking priority.


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