Protecting education budgets ‘vital’ amid pandemic

26 Jan 21

Economic recovery from Covid-19 will depend on renewed investment in education, the Asian Development Bank has told governments in the Asia Pacific region.

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A student in the library. Shutterstock 261976376

A student in the library. Image © Shutterstock

In a guidance note, the bank warned “unprecedented disruptions” to education and training – with some 1.7 billion students affected worldwide – risk damaging the quality of learning, which would set the economy back in the coming years.

The note urged governments to ensure reskilling programmes are available to the millions of people who have become unemployed during the crisis.

“As governments grapple with the costs of health and economic recovery, it is vital to protect education budgets,” the bank said.

“Investing in reskilling and upskilling of workers who lost jobs during the pandemic will play a critical role in accelerating the economic recovery by getting people back into labour markets.”

To address inequalities in digital access, the note advocates expanding access to affordable and reliable internet for households and educational institutions, and suggests governments should work with telecommunications providers to do so.

“Developing countries were already grappling with a learning crisis given that students were not learning enough,” said ADB education sector group chief Barjesh Panth.

“The pandemic has exacerbated inequities and widened learning gaps.

To turn the crisis into an opportunity, we must find new ways of supporting managers, teachers and parents.”

The note suggested developing the use of data to improve “transparency and accountability” in education, by “linking education delivery with learning data”.

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