AfDB: Give students more time to study to recover from pandemic shortcomings

FILE PHOTO: A teacher and her students learn together at Pedro Cruz Elementary School in the city of San Juan as it reopens to face-to-face classes on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. INQUIRER/GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines—With the reopening of schools in the Philippines and across Asia-Pacific after prolonged closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Development Bank (AfDB) has joined calls to extend students’ study time so they can recover from learning losses.

“School closures have resulted in substantial learning losses that must be urgently recovered to avoid lasting impacts on student progress, human capital formation and livelihoods,” read a report from the AfDB titled “How to Recover Learning Losses from COVID-19 School Closures in Asia and the Pacific”, published Monday, July 18.

“A key first step after the safe reopening of schools is to test students to determine how much knowledge has been lost or dropped and at what level to resume teaching, after which attention should focus on regularly monitoring progress. learning,” said the Manila-based multilateral lender. said.

According to the AfDB, schools in developing Asia were closed for an average of 272 instructional days, or 73% of school days between February 2020 and October 2021.

In the Philippines, 100% face-to-face classes will not resume until November for the next school year which begins in August.

“As a result, students in developing countries in Asia are estimated to have lost what they would normally have learned in nine-tenths of a school year. A recent review of studies conducted around the world found that on average, students lost half a year of learning,” the AfDB said, citing a recent World Bank report.

One way to recover from the learning losses inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be to extend students’ study time.

“Additional class time can give students the opportunity to cover missed materials due to school closures,” ADB said.

“This can take the form of hours added to the school day, weekend lessons and reduced breaks between school years and terms. Dedicating a clear time slot for remedial classes is also important for effective implementation of targeted teaching,” the AfDB added.

“Pre-pandemic studies of longer instruction time generally show improvements in student learning, although the results are context-specific,” he said.

“In particular, when the school day is initially short (such as half a day), students make considerable progress if the school day is extended to a full day. However, there are points of diminishing returns. Beyond a certain number of hours, boredom or fatigue may set in, students exert less effort and are less able to concentrate, and absenteeism may increase,” ADB added.

“Summer school programs designed to fill learning gaps can also be effective, especially if instruction is tailored to individuals or small groups. Organizing these programs as a boot camp and supplementing learning with extracurricular activities can make them more appealing to students,” according to ADB.

Socio-economic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan has previously urged the public and private education sectors to continue their remedial learning, including remedial classes for young schoolchildren and training or internship for students.

ADB pointed to similar adjustments in school calendars elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region: “In Japan, many schools have reduced the length of summer holidays. For example, in the city of Nara, the break was shortened from 34 to 16 calendar days. Through this approach, coupled with the use of remote learning during school closures, learning losses were quickly recovered. »

“The Indian state of Odisha has reduced the break from 48 to 11 days. In Thailand, losses from initial school closures were to be offset by a plan to extend the school year, increase class hours, provide online self-study resources and offer additional exercises to take home. In Nepal, constraints on the use of distance education during the pandemic have led authorities to extend the school year by two months (April to June) in 2021,” the AfDB noted.

Besides remedial classes, ADB also urged educators to “teach at the student level”; consolidate or rationalize the curriculum; strengthen re-registration campaigns; as well as train teachers so that they can facilitate the recovery of learning.

“Learning losses due to school closures have been significant in Asia and the Pacific. Efforts are urgently needed to recoup these losses to avoid long-term negative impacts on student learning progress, well-being, future earnings, and economy-wide productivity. says the AfDB report.

“The economic prospects of young people are threatened at this critical juncture, and students will not catch up by simply returning classrooms to the pre-pandemic status quo,” according to the AfDB.

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