ADB warns of slower economic growth, job losses due to prolonged school closures

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Prolonged school closures -- including one of the longest, currently underway in the Philippines -- will not only slow economic growth but also shed jobs across the Asia-Pacific region even a decade after COVID-19 spread and became a pandemic, Manila - Asian Development Bank (ADB)-based multilateral lender said.


MANILA, Philippines — Prolonged school closures — including one of the longest, currently underway in the Philippines — will not only slow economic growth but also shed jobs across the Asia-Pacific region even a decade after COVID-19 spread and became a pandemic. , the Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

No less than the country’s chief economist — Secretary for Socio-Economic Planning Karl Kendrick Chua himself during a chat with reporters last week attested to the substandard quality of online classes compared to face-to-face schools, thereby expressing concern about his only son, as well as millions of future schoolchildren Philippines.

“Severe disruptions in school education during the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted children through their formative years, which will affect their employment opportunities and earning potential for many years after school age,” ADB’s economics working paper entitled “Potential Impact Economics COVID- School Closures related 19” published on Friday read.

ADB estimates suggest that school closures will not only cut global gross domestic product (GDP) and employment — these losses are projected to increase over time.

According to ADB, global GDP will decrease by 0.19 percent in 2024, 0.64 percent in 2028, and 1.11 percent in 2030, as a result of a prolonged decline in the quality of distance schooling compared to face-to-face classes. “In absolute terms, the cost of the global economy in 2030 alone will be $943 billion,” ADB said.

“The effect of scarring is greater in economies with significant student populations from rural areas, those in the poorest and second wealth quintiles. Learning and income losses are also significant in countries where the share of unskilled labor in the overall workforce is high,” ADB added.

In the Philippines, ADB calculates that prolonged school closures will result in a 4.5 percent income loss among an estimated 32.44 million unskilled workforce exceeding the country’s approximately 10.09 million skilled workers by 2030.

ADB also estimates that the Philippines’ GDP will be 3.27 percent lower — equivalent to a previous output of about $11.38 billion — by 2030, as it is one of the countries in the region where school enrollment in rural areas is quite high.

Skilled and unskilled jobs in the Philippines will also decrease by 2.316 percent and 2.379 percent by 2030, according to ADB’s forecast.

Chua, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) last week reiterated the need to resume all face-to-face classes nationwide.

“An important missing piece in our recovery is the resumption of face-to-face schooling. More than any previous economic activity due to school closures, we are deeply concerned about the loss of learning and the impact on our children’s future productivity,” Chua said after announcing that the Philippines’ economic growth during the first quarter was a better-than-expected 8.3 percent year-on-year. -year, despite the surge in Omicron re-imposing tougher pandemic restrictions earlier this year.

“Below alert level 1, children are allowed to engage in recreational and recreational activities in all places indoors and outdoors, but children’s most important activity — learning — continues to be restricted,” Chua said.

“We reiterate our call for an immediate restart of face-to-face schooling plus a catch-up plan to regain the learning lost in the past two years. This will help secure better opportunities for future generations and ensure that our demographic dividend is not wasted,” Chua said.

Neda estimates have shown that a school year when students are unable to attend face-to-face classes will result in a P11 trillion productivity loss over a 40-year period of one’s working life.

A United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimate last March also showed that fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren in the Philippines can read simple texts, slightly better than last November, when the World Bank revealed that distance learning exacerbated poverty. study. in the Philippines up to 90 percent. Learning poverty — the proportion of 10-year-olds who cannot read or understand simple stories — in the country was 69.5 percent in 2019 or before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chua is actually the direct father of his six year old son, Keid Ashby. Investigators had previously learned that older Chua would first join the younger’s kindergarten class on weekday mornings before he, as Neda’s head, went to work for the rest of the day—sometimes late into the night, especially during Cabinet meetings with President Duterte.

During his first-quarter GDP press conference last Thursday, Chua said he had free time in the morning because Keid Ashby was on summer vacation. But Chua says even her son needs extra classes or make-up.

“Because the school is online, he [Keid Ashby] short two and a half hours per week, compared to face-to-face. So quantity-wise, there is an impact. Then, he also lacks in all other aspects — physical education and social skills,” Chua lamented.

“I think you can learn intellectually from a laptop screen, but you’re lacking elsewhere,” Chua said.

Chua mentors Keid Ashby so he can focus on schoolwork — since a real teacher doesn’t exist physically, he acts like his son’s teacher during online classes. “The on-screen teacher can’t call anyone, so I sit there, I do my job, I check my email, I give my staff instructions, all the while making sure he’s focused.”

Since Keid Ashby had already spent the morning facing a computer screen for online classes, Chua decided to limit his son’s use of gadgets — only after lunch and before dinner — but the boy became “bored to death.”

“I don’t like him spending 12 hours a day on screens. But I’m at work; he needs an alternative [activities]. If he can’t meet his friends, and he doesn’t have [school] friend for two years, what can he do?” Chua said.

Last Thursday, for example, while Chua was preparing for a press conference, Keid Ashby told his father upon waking at seven in the morning: “Dad, I’m so bored! Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored!”

Unfortunately for Keid Ashby, who finds his father to be a “very interesting playmate,” Chua can’t always stay home as he has a huge responsibility to shepherd the pandemic-ravaged economy towards recovery.

Citing Neda’s recent estimates, Chua said the economy lost around P12 billion in productive output – including business activities around schools – a week as most learning institutions remained closed.


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