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Impact of Education Disruption: Eastern and Southern Africa - March 2022

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On average, schools in the Eastern and Southern African region have been fully closed for 22 weeks, as of 28 February 2022, according to the UNESCO Global Monitoring of School Closures. By the end of February 2022, about half of countries (10 of 22 countries) in the region saw durations of full school closures beyond the global average of 20 weeks. The total duration of school closures (fully closed and partially closed) ranges from 0 weeks in Burundi to 92 weeks in Uganda. Schoolchildren in the region have lost 150 billion hours of in-person learning.

Pre-COVID, and among countries with available data, the proportion of children who can read a simple text ranged from 5 per cent in Madagascar to 52 per cent in Botswana. A growing body of evidence shows substantial losses and worsening inequalities in learning outcomes as a result of COVID-related school closures.

In Ethiopia, students learned only 30-40 per cent of what they normally would in math, with a widening gap between rural and urban students. In Kenya, a study among primary-school children who maintained use of an online tutoring platform lost an equivalent of 3.5 months of learning in math, with larger losses for Grades 4 and 6 than Grade 8, and for students in “hardship areas” and rural schools. In South Africa, Grade 2 students lost between 50-70 per cent of a year of learning and Grade 4 students lost between 62-81 per cent of a year of learning; among Grade 4 students, learning losses were 27 per cent higher for girls than boys. School closures in the region have long-term implications for its learners: current learners in Sub-Saharan Africa could stand to lose half a trillion dollars in future earnings.