The coronavirus pandemic has a long-term negative impact on education, the quality of human capital and socio-economic development in Central Asian countries. This is stated in a statement by the World Bank.
It is noted that in the countries of the region, students and young people make up almost half of the total population. The crisis threatens the future incomes of the younger generation. It is estimated that the rate of functional illiteracy among adolescents is increasing, which means that the number of students who are unable to use their reading, writing and math skills to participate effectively in society is increasing.
Even before the pandemic, education in Central Asia faced a number of challenges, including overcoming educational poverty, providing equal opportunities to students from low-income families, and promoting integration.
According to the World Bank, students in the region are 1.5 years behind their European peers. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (PISA) international student assessment program, many students in the region have already performed poorly in functional literacy.
Of particular concern is the growing gap or inequality in education between students from families with different incomes, the report says. According to PISA, children from the poorest families in Kazakhstan lag behind their peers in education by one year, and in Kyrgyzstan by 2.5 years.
The coronavirus pandemic is such a devastating blow to the education system that its impact (including an economic loss of $ 44 billion in Central Asia alone) will manifest itself decades later.
According to Aisha Waud, the World Bank’s leading expert on education in Central Asia, this is not the most pessimistic scenario.
World Bank officials stress the need to focus on education when developing a plan to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Countries must maintain budgetary allocations for education, improve the quality of distance education, and ensure flexibility in education programs, focusing not only on knowledge but also on capacity and competence.
It was noted that the focus should be on the students most affected by school closures. Countries in the region need to ensure the development of digital skills among students, youth and teachers, as well as create more opportunities for teachers to interact with students on various distance learning platforms.