NUR-SULTAN, November 24, 2020 – The potential learning loss from school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic and new approaches to learning recovery in Kazakhstan were key topics of a discussion held today. The virtual discussion was organized by the World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and World Health Organization (WHO), jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The discussion is part of a series of webinars on school reopening in Kazakhstan being organized jointly by the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO, and local partners. The aim is to enable education specialists and practitioners to implement school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19, mitigate learning loss and organize child-centered and inclusive digital and blended learning. Every month education and health departments, school managements and teachers are invited to join the discussion on a child-centered blended learning concept and existing solutions to adapt the learning to meet the needs of all children.
Globally, about 40% of the student population continues to be impacted by full or partial school closures. Even with remote learning fully in place in advanced economies, learning losses are estimated to be substantial. According to the World Bank, school closures may lead to a loss in learning of up to 10 per cent.
As time and quality of schooling are linked with a person’s ability to generate income in the future, school closures are likely to reduce the income of those affected. In Kazakhstan, the estimated cost of school closures during March-June 2020, is expected to reduce future income by 2.9 percent, equivalent to an overall economic loss of up to $1.9 billion every year.
“The pandemic-induced school closures threaten to exacerbate the learning crisis, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable students,” said Jean-Francois Marteau, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. “Since COVID-19 struck, Kazakhstan effectively ensured continuity through an emergency remote learning program. Now the country faces an urgent need to move from crisis management to setting the stage for learning recovery and building a resilient school system for the post-pandemic era.”
To mitigate learning loss, some governments around the world are trying to maintain expenditure levels on education or apply one-off ‘catch-up’ funding. For early school leavers, some countries are providing income support and employment, and investing more in lifelong learning. Investment in digital skills and technology, as well as in building institutional capacity of education professionals as equitable digital education services are viewed as an important strategy.
“We adopted a number of normative legal documents to regulate the educational process in Kazakhstan during the pandemic. Amendments have been made to the State Standard of Education to allow educational organizations split classes into subgroups to ensure social distance. Together with the Ministry of Health, we have introduced changes to the Sanitary Rules. The assessment system is adapted to distance learning. Together with the experts, we analyze the experience of other countries on support measures to ensure quality of education, and targeted programs to recover learning losses. There is no ready-made solutions. And we also realize that the recovery process will take time, "said Sholpan Karinova, Vice Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Countries around the world are focusing on building the foundations for more resilient education systems in the future. Transforming education delivery and accelerating progress in learning is a huge issue given the challenges during the ongoing pandemic. However, governments and other stakeholders are already investing in improving education service delivery, including teacher professional development and remuneration, emotional support and management of workloads, as well as focus on individual learning of every child as opposed to completion of academic curriculum.
Panelists participating in the discussion stressed that in addition to service delivery continuity, Kazakhstan needs to focus on analyzing the learning loss, and providing specialized remedial education. This could help ensure equality of learning, prompt understanding of a necessity to set the foundations for a resilient and equitable education system going forward.
Formative and summative assessments are critical tools to gauge learning loss and inform corrective action to be taken. “Student assessment systems are effective if they reflect not only learning gaps but also students’ strengths so that we can scaffold future learning based on what they do know and are able to do. This approach should be driven by promoting learning rather than evaluating the learner”, said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.
Panelists also stressed that the paradigm of education has changed, and it now underscores the role of parents, teachers, students, the school system and the district administration to make sure that children continue to learn and that their learning is systematically monitored through assessments and teacher-student interactions.
Notes for the editors:
The World Bank Group is the largest financier of education in the developing world. We work on education programs in more than 80 countries and are committed to helping countries reach SDG4, which calls for access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. The World Bank Education global practice provides countries with information and resources from around the world on the education response to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information about the World Bank in Kazakhstan, visit www.worldbank.org/kz. and our Facebook.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child; in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/kazakhstan/en. Follow UNICEF Kazakhstan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. For more information about UNESCO and its work in Central Asia, visit http://www.unesco.kz. Follow UNESCO Almaty on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
WHO Country Office is the focal point for WHO activities in Kazakhstan. The priorities for the Country Office are set out in the biennial collaborative agreement between WHO/Europe and the host country. The Office implements the agreement in close collaboration with national institutions and international partner agencies. For more information about WHO CO in Kazakhstan, visit https://www.euro.who.int/en/countries/kazakhstan/who-country-office. Follow WHO CO Kazakhstan on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.