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Children returning to in-person classes in Leon, Guanajuato, under a pilot program that began in May. Children returning to in-person classes in León, Guanajuato, under a pilot program that began in May.

NGO estimates 10 million students will be two years behind due to Covid

Learning gap could affect Mexico's future rates of economic inequality

Approximately 10 million students will fall behind in their learning by up to two years due to the closure of schools during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a think tank.

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (Imco) estimates that 2.2 million students are at high risk of not having progressed in their learning since schools closed early last year, while almost 7.8 million are at medium to high risk of not having advanced.

In a report entitled Pandemic education: the risks of distance learning, the think tank said the former cohort was at high risk of falling because they don’t have the necessary equipment or support to learn online or via televised classes.

The latter cohort are at medium to high risk because although they have devices that allow them to study virtually, they don’t have someone to guide them.

Citing World Bank data, Imco said that before the pandemic Mexicans had completed on average 8.8 years of education, which is almost equivalent to completing middle school.

“The World Bank estimates that this indicator will decline 1.8 years [during the pandemic] … to just seven years, a level of learning close to the first year of middle school,” the think tank said.

“… Millions of students could finish their studies with a knowledge equivalent to two academic grades lower.”

Imco said statistics show that the challenges posed by virtual education cannot be met equally in all Mexican households.

“… There are students with the necessary resources to mitigate the negative impacts … but there are others who haven’t had what is necessary to acquire the expected learning,” it said.

Imco said students who have been unable to study adequately at home will be at a disadvantage when they seek to join the workforce. And that could exacerbate inequality, the think tank said.

“Today we know that there are at least 10 million girls, boys and young people, 30% of the total [number of students], who face a high or medium to high risk of showing significant lags in their knowledge that will place them at a disadvantage when they seek to enter the labor market in the future,” Imco said.

When schools reopen, measures should be put in place to attract students who have abandoned their studies and to support students who have fallen behind, it said.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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