The loss of skills will affect the economy

The closure of schools and colleges during imprisonment by the pandemic has forced children around the world to continue their education at home, with distance education and the use of new technologies. However, when in some countries this new reality means having completed nearly a year of home schooling, it also represents millionaire losses.

A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that this would affect the income of students in the future and, consequently, the economy of their country.

For the entity, these losses will not be easily compensated, even with the opening of the educational centers and their efforts to reach their previous levels of performance.

For the moment, there is no exact quantification of the effect of learning losses in each country; however, the OECD predicts that boys in grades 1 to 12 could have up to 3% less income for the rest of their lives.

Given this decline in student income (future professionals or people of working age) and the trend towards less trained staff, nations’ GDP is expected to suffer as well, with losses of up to $ 1, 5% of the figure. annual, at least, for the rest of the 21st century.

For the United States alone, that represents an economic loss of $ 15.3 trillion this year, the organization said. The figure will increase if the disruption in education continues into the next school year.

But the OECD is not the only entity to warn of a critical scenario. The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has just published a report where it says that 97% of children and adolescents in Latin America are about to finish almost a year without going to school, and with virtual classrooms Inaccessible to the most vulnerable, the region runs the risk of losing its future for decades.

Unicef ​​warns that the percentage of children and adolescents who receive no education, either in person or remotely, has increased from 4% to 18% in recent months.

The report highlights World Bank calculations: Every child in primary and secondary education in Latin America and the Caribbean could lose between $ 242 and $ 835 per year and up to $ 15,000 throughout their working life .

This translates into a loss of up to $ 1.2 trillion in revenue for governments in the region over the lifecycle of this generation of students, according to the Multilateral.

In addition to the economic and learning losses, the OECD also argues that children’s lack of interaction with their classmates or teachers and the modality of virtual classes will also influence students’ socio-emotional and motivational development.

“Indeed, the OECD is right. Due to confinement, children, especially those in preschool and first grade, will have lost some of the skills they develop at this age, through interaction with other children and counseling. a tutor or teacher ”. This is how Gabriel Rovayo, teacher and president of the EFQM South America organization, reflects.

In early childhood, he explains, the structure of the brain changes. The events, stimuli and experiences of this period influence the entire life and have long-term repercussions on mental health.

Going to school has a myriad of benefits for students. Among other things, their skills are increased and they have the opportunity to develop in the personal, emotional and social sphere. In addition, they improve social skills and social awareness, as well as their abilities and skills, says Rovayo.

Other teachers, such as Santiago García Álvarez of the Central University, say they do not fully agree with the OECD position. This ensures that there are impacts, but they are not absolute.

“We are talking about general and technical skills; in the first, interpersonal relationships are affected, but information processing is improved. In the latter, there are problems of applied knowledge in mathematics or physics, but educational technology has improved a lot and will continue to improve ”.

And can the economic impact on countries be representative of this possible impact on productivity? “Maybe, but the pandemic tells us that productivity should not be the predominant measure of analysis but rather the resilience of organizations, societies. Productivity plays an important role, but it will adapt to each reality, ”García adds.

Michel Desmurget (Lyon, 1965), research director at the Institut national de la santé de France, in his book “ The digital cretin factory ”, describes how digital devices seriously affect, and worse, neural development children and young people called millennials, centenials or simply digital natives.

“This leads us to believe that what happened in confinement (increased use of digital devices) will have serious consequences for future generations and the development of the society in which they operate. It’s a wake-up call for parents and teachers, ”says Rovayo.

For the OECD, the only thing that can save children and economies from this impact is to improve education levels and take advantage of new tools and technologies that have been implemented with the pandemic, such as TV. -education.

“The long-term economic impacts also require special attention because the losses already suffered require more than the best approaches to reopening (schools) currently being considered,” adds the entity.

Although reality may slow this goal down. In the region, only half of students in public schools have access to quality distance learning courses and in private schools this figure climbs to 75%, estimates Unicef.