Pre-primary education served as a “protection” against the loss of COVID learning in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Researchers have urged sub-Saharan African aid organizations and governments to strengthen their plans for urgent pre-primary education.

A study of more than 2,600 children in Ethiopia found that among students enrolled in primary education shortly after school reopened, learning loss was far greater if they were before primary education before the outbreak of COVID-19. I found that there were few. The lack of learning of these inexperienced pre-primary children was four times greater.

Nevertheless, this study also shows that pre-primary education was the most neglected part of the Ethiopian government’s response to COVID education. One aid provider characterized this age group’s distance learning program as a “vacuum where no one is responsible.”

This study was conducted by a team from the University of Cambridge, Addis Ababa University, and the Institute of Policy Studies in Ethiopia. This report is part of a five-year survey commissioned by the World Bank. Early learning partnership..

Professor Pauline Rose, Director of the Fair Access and Learning (REAL) Center at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, said: -Primary education does not seem to have a great understanding of how the Ministry of Education responded to the pandemic. “

“It clearly plays an important protective role in limiting learning losses. With the advent of new variants of the virus, school turmoil is likely to occur again. Age group Not ignored. “

Schools in Ethiopia were closed for about eight months from March 2020, affecting more than 26 million students, including 3.2 million pre-primary ages. This study investigated both the impact on children’s preparation for primary education and the value of pre-primary education in this context.

First, researchers tracked the progress of 2,600 pre-primary school children in 2019/20 who were eligible to start primary school in 2020/21. The period in between coincided with the interruption of school-based learning.

Students took an early computational ability test at the beginning of each grade. The researchers then compared the test scores of children who participated in the “O-Class” (a preschool program run by the Ethiopian government) with children who never attended preschool.

COVID-19 meant that the O-Class group would spend much less time in the classroom than expected, but still performed much better in both computational power tests. Their average score increased from 46% at the start of O-class to 64% when they entered primary school in 2020/21. The score for those who did not attend preschool increased from 26% to 46%.

This shows that all children have made some progress, but also suggests that children without formal primary education were one year behind their classmates by the time they started primary school. increase. Even if researchers manage potentially confounding factors such as advance achievement, parental literacy, household wealth, and where they live, O-class children are still 8 percentage points ahead. I was there.

The result of the headline masks deeper inequality. Within the O-Class, learning improvements were significant among boys, wealthy families, and literate caregivers.

To see how much learning was lost during the pandemic, this study found a group test score at the start of primary school in 2020 and 2,700 children who started primary school in 2018. We compared the test scores of our cohorts.

The average score for the 2020 cohort, after considering other factors, was 7.4 percentage points lower than the pre-pandemic group, suggesting that all children experienced some learning loss due to COVID-19. But importantly, children’s participation in O-class played an important role in reducing learning loss. Compared to the pre-pandemic group, the 2020 cohort that attended preschool was 9 percentage points higher than the cohort that did not attend preschool, after considering other factors.

Children without pre-primary education were also much less likely to enter primary education. school After the pandemic at all. After school reopened, about 92% of O-class children enrolled in primary class, but only 50% of children who did not attend pre-primary.

“The difference is alarming,” Rose said. “Participation in O-class clearly played a role in preventing losses, but so did household wealth. We were especially girls, and missed it, and potentially still exist. , We need to worry about people in rural areas who are not wealthy. “

Researchers also interviewed staff from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, national testing institutions and aid agencies with 480 parents to assess how pre-primary education was processed during the closure period.

Governments and aid authorities have expressed concern about the lack of a clear pre-primary strategy. The report found that the lack of pre-primary policy prioritization and limited coordination between services did not effectively use local resources that would otherwise have maintained infant learning. I found that it meant that. Only half of parents and guardians reported learning with their children during the closure period, and only 10% had contact with teachers.

The report expands access to and gives governments access to quality primary education. education Recovery plan. It adds that underprivileged children, who are clearly missing most, should be prioritized.

“PrePrimary Education Raise specific challenges on how to support young people Children When the school is closed, and the family should not prevent them from finding a solution. These issues need to be addressed now, not in the midst of the next emergency. ”

A pandemic that causes “almost insurmountable” education losses worldwide: UNICEF

Quote: Pre-primary education plays a “protective” role against COVID learning losses in sub-Saharan Africa (February 15, 2022), https: // Obtained from primary-role-on February 15, 2022 covid-losses-sub-saharan.html

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Pre-primary education served as a “protection” against the loss of COVID learning in sub-Saharan Africa.

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