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  • Ryan Wittler

COVID May Cost Today’s Students $17 Trillion in Lifetime Earnings

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As the Omicron variant continues to spread, a new U.N. report has found that global school closures due to COVID could cost today’s students $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

Some highlights:

The current figure is an update of a 2020 report that found global school closures could cost students $10 trillion over their lifetimes. The current report attributes the considerable increase to closures dragging on longer than anticipated, ultimately leading to children learning fewer skills and harming their ability to find higher-paying jobs.

According to the report, the share of children living in “learning poverty” could also jump from 53% globally to 70% as closures drag on. The U.N.’s benchmark for “learning poverty” is whether a child can read a simple sentence in their native language by the age of 10.

The report also found the impacts of school closures due to COVID has “exacerbated inequities in education” worldwide, finding girls, disabled children, and children from low-income households are less likely to access remote learning.

There’s still time:

It’s important to remember reports such as these are projections, meaning, they can change. In 2022, if school closures and interruptions continue, the figure could increase. Likewise, if they cease, the projection should fall.

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