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Less than 15% of PH kids can read simple text due to schools’ closure – Unicef

Less than 15% of PH kids can read simple text due to schools’ closure – Unicef

Less than 15 percent of schoolchildren in the Philippines can read simple texts in large part due to the longest schools closure, according to Unicef.

The latest Unicef assessment defined by the World Bank as the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read or understand a simple story.

Since the onset of the pandemic, only a few schools in the country have returned to in-person classes and the government had piloted face-to-face schooling in public schools, but in a limited scope.

Globally, “two years into the pandemic, schools have been fully closed for 20 weeks and partially closed for an additional 21 weeks, on average across countries,” Unicef said.

“Data from the Unesco global monitoring of school closures reveal that about one in 10 countries have fully closed their schools for over 40 weeks. Schoolchildren around the world have missed an estimated two trillion hours—and counting—of in-person learning since the onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns,” Unicef added.

Unicef noted that even before the pandemic more than half of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries were unable to comprehend a simple story—“now that figure is estimated to be as high as 70 percent.”

“This has been exacerbated by two years of COVID-19-related school closures, which have deepened education inequality. In fact, nearly 153 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling over the past two years, with more than 62 million of them having missed at least three-quarters of in-person schooling,” Unicef said.

“And we know that the most vulnerable children are paying the heaviest price, with evidence of disproportionate learning loss among children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children living in rural areas, children with disabilities, and younger students,” it added.

According to Unicef, about two in five learners continued to experience significant “disruptions to education” up to end-February.

“The chain effect of school closures could be staggering and felt far beyond education. In addition to missed learning, school closures deprive children of the benefits to their safety, health, nutrition, and overall well-being provided by schools. The impacts of school closures are wide-ranging: estimates suggest 10 million more children could fall off-track in early childhood development as a result of early childhood care and education closures in the first 11 months of the pandemic,” Unicef said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that “the full benefit of alert level 1 cannot be maximized if the majority of schools are still closed for face-to-face learning.”

“We urgently call for the full resumption of face-to-face learning in areas under alert level 1. We already have most elements in place to enable our full recovery in 2022. The biggest piece missing is our education sector. More than the foregone economic activity, we are concerned for the learning and future productivity of our children. Under alert level 1, children are allowed to engage in leisure and recreational activities for all indoor and outdoor venues, but the most important activity of children—going to school and learning fully—continues to be restricted,” according to Chua.