OPINION: Now more than ever, we need to help learners catch up. Here’s why.

More than a year after the first known case of Covid-19 set in motion a raft of lockdown restrictions, social science researchers have released new data about the impact of disrupted schooling on children.

The findings confirm what many warned would happen — early grade reading among primary school children in lower quintile schools has suffered a significant setback. So severe is the impact, it could take up to a decade or more to undo; some learners may never fully recover and are at risk of dropping out in high school. To help them keep their grip on schooling in these trying times, we need an accelerated learning strategy attuned to the diverse needs of learners and educators who are equipped for the challenge.

According to the results of Wave 4 of the NIDS-CRAM survey, in 2020 primary school children learnt roughly a quarter of what they could have learnt for Home Language, and roughly half of what they could have learnt for English as First Additional Language, based on assessments of their reading outcomes.

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