A look at the long term effect of closed taxpayer funded schools

Anda Heyl:

School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected learning to varying degrees in different countries. A new study sheds light on what this learning loss will mean for countries’ human capital in the decades to come.

Education is a human right and ensuring access to quality education for all is the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) set by the United Nations General Assembly. While there is evidence that more children and youth worldwide have access to education, according to some indicators, the quality is in decline when looking at acquired skills such as literacy or numeracy.

Deeper research into the level of education and acquired skills is crucial to see how recent trends, such as school closures in the COVID-19 pandemic affect the workforce. A new study published in PLOS ONEprojected adult skills until 2050 while measuring the effect of pandemic school closures on these skills.

“Projecting human capital—in other words the economic value of a person’s experience and skills—gives us insight into the future status of societies, particularly the workforce, whose skills are essential for jobs contributing to economic growth and development outlooks,” explains Claudia Reiter, a researcher in the IIASA Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group and a coauthor of the study. “It also influences people’s capacity to innovate in view of the many challenges to be faced in the future, such as climate change.”

The study uses the Skills in Literacy Adjusted Mean Years of Schooling (SLAMYS) indicator, which combines the lengths of schooling with a factor based on adult literacy test scores. The researchers applied the measure for the working age population in 45 countries and looked at five-year intervals until 2050 under various population scenarios, integrating COVID-19 school closures in the models.