Building Back Better to Avert a Learning Catastrophe: Estimating Learning Loss from COVID-19 School Shutdowns in Africa and Facilitating Short-term and Long-term Learning Recovery


We model learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for cost-effective strategies to build back better. Data from Early Grade Reading Assessments in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, and Uganda suggest half to over a year’s worth of learning loss. In modeling losses over time, we found that learning deficits for a child in grade 3 could lead to 2.8 years of lost learning by grade 10. While COVID-19 has stymied learning, bold, learning-focused reform consistent with the literature reviewed in this paper—specifically reform on targeted instruction and structured pedagogy—could improve learning even beyond pre-COVID-19 levels.

International Journal of Educational Development