The World Bank has expressed fear that learning losses due to pandemics and disaster-related disruptions pose a threat to the country’s development as they derail students’ learning trajectory.
The bank’s report titled ‘Collapse and recovery’ comes as Malawi continues to be hit by pandemics and disasters such as Covid-19, cholera and tropical storms that disrupted learning due to closure of schools.
The bank said the disruptions may also lead to students losing chances of escaping poverty.
Reads the report in part: “In Malawi, once students returned to school after seven months of school closures [due to Covid-19], learning trajectories were dramatically slower [at 6.9 points of learning for every 100 days of schooling once schools reopened versus 13.4 points of learning for every 100 days of schooling in the period before the pandemic].
“If the trend continues, students affected by the pandemic could continue falling further behind their expected pre-pandemic learning trajectories.”
The report further fears that such losses could translate into significantly lower lifetime earnings for hundreds of millions of people, which means lower productivity, greater inequality, and possibly greater social unrest for decades to come.
In an interview yesterday, educationist Steve Sharra said the losses will be more acute for learners who are not accessing any alternative emergency remote learning.
He said: “These losses can easily be reflected in national examination results, as we saw with the Form Four results during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As disasters and disruptions become more common, it is becoming imperative for us to improve on our preparedness and planning.”
On his part, Edukans Malawi executive director Limbani Nsapato said any loss in a school term is huge and affects completion of syllabus, but also has psycho-socio effects as it demotivates students when they return to school.
“We have seen that some schools that have been largely affected like with Covid-19 perform poorly, some with pass rate of less than 30 percent. Some students drop out, some go into early marriages,” he said.
Ministry of Education data shows that 273 388 learners (130 980 boys and 142 408 girls) and 586 teachers were affected by Freddy, although some of them have now returned to school.