The Covid-19 pandemic may result in a long-term human development crisis in Central Asian countries, warned the World Bank experts.
At an online briefing, on August 5, experts said the pandemic can have a detrimental and long-lasting impact on education and human capital, economic and social development in Central Asian countries, where schoolchildren and students make up nearly half of the overall population.
"The crisis threatens to deprive this generation of future earnings, as it pushes a large share of Central Asian students into functional illiteracy – inability to read, write, and do math at a level necessary to be productive," said the experts.
According to the World Bank, education across Central Asia was already suffering from low learning levels before the pandemic.
"Students across the region performed 1.5 years below the average of Europe, i.e. an average student in Central Asia was a year and a half behind their peer in Europe," World Bank estimates.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected education system in this region with school closures impacting already marginalised groups, including students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, learners with disabilities and minorities.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is dealing a blow to education and learning so destructive we will feel its negative effects for decades to come, including $44 billion in economic loss in Central Asia alone, and this is not our most pessimistic scenario," said Ayesha Vawda, lead education specialist at the World Bank in Central Asia.
"Central Asian countries took swift action to deliver emergency learning via multiple channels and modes. Now is the time for governments to respond in a way that lays the foundation of the new education system – one that is high quality, resilient and equitable," she added.