Loss of learning during the pandemic

Azim Premji Foundation, (APF) (2021) Loss of learning during the pandemic. Project Report. Azim Premji Foundation, Bengaluru.

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School closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a complete disconnect from education for the vast majority of children or inadequate alternatives like community-based classes or poor alternatives in the form of online education, including mobile phone-based learning. One complete academic year has elapsed in this manner, with almost no or little curricular learning in the current class. But this is only one kind of loss of learning. Equally alarming is the widespread phenomenon of ‘forgetting’ by students about learning from the previous class – this is a regression in their curricular learning. This includes losing foundational abilities such as reading with understanding and performing addition and multiplication, which they had learned earlier and become proficient in, and which are the basis of further learning. These foundational abilities are such that their absence will impact not only learning of more complex abilities but also conceptual understanding across subjects. Thus, this overall loss of learning – loss (regression or forgetting) of what children had learned in the previous class as well as what they did not get an opportunity to learn in the present class – is going to lead to a cumulative loss over the years, impacting not only the academic performance of children in their school years but also their adult lives. To ensure that this does not happen, multiple strategies must be adopted with rigorous implementation to compensate for this overall loss of learning when schools reopen. This study, undertaken in January 2021, reveals the extent and nature of the ‘forgetting/ regression’ kind of learning loss (i.e. what was learned earlier but has now been lost) among children in public schools across primary classes because of school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study covered 16067 children in 1137 public schools in 44 districts across 5 states. It focused on the assessment of four specific abilities each in language and mathematics, across classes 2-6. These four specific abilities for each grade were chosen because these are among the abilities for all subsequent learning – across subjects – and so the loss of any one of these would have very serious consequences on all further learning. An assessment of the learning levels of children when schools closed as well as their current status was necessary to understand any such regression. The former was best done through teachers who have been deeply engaged with their learners, and thus had a reliable assessment of children’s abilities, when schools closed in March 2020. Therefore, this baseline assessment of children’s learning levels, i.e. where they were assessed on specific abilities in language and mathematics when schools closed, was done based on a comprehensive analysis by the relevant teachers, aided by appropriate assessment tools. All abilities associated with the previous class were not assessed; a few abilities critical for further learning were carefully identified and assessed. These are referred to as specific abilities in the document. ‘End-line’ was the assessment of the same children’s proficiency in these very same abilities in January 2021, which was done by administering oral and written tests.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Authors: Azim Premji Foundation, (APF)
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Classroom learning, Learning loss, Primary education
Subjects: Social sciences > Education
Divisions: Foundation Publications
Full Text Status: Public
Related URLs:
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/2490
Publisher URL:

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