The Mitigating the Learning Losses Caused by the COVID-19 School Closures conference was held on June 21 at The Schebek Palace, Prague, Czech Republic. It was organized by the ECA education team, the EU CMU, and CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education – Economics Institute). There were 16 speakers, representing the World Bank and nine countries, including Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the United States. It was attended by 138 participants online and in-person.

Learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic was discussed in the opening comments from Štěpán Jurajda, the Deputy Minister for Science, Research and Innovation of the Czech Republic, Gallina Vincelette, Country Director, European Union, World Bank, and the keynote address by Harry Patrinos. Learning recovery plans were discussed in a session chaired by Daniel Munich (IDEA at CERGE-EI) which included Maciej Jakubowski, Václav Korbel, Gunda Tire, and Ulkar Babayeva.

In Europe, students have lost a half-year’s worth of learning due to the school closures that were put in place during COVID-19. On average students lost 0.17 of a standard deviation.

The keynote address by Rafa de Hoyos presented the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to address the learning crisis. The panel led by Alina Sava discussed several country efforts to strengthen education systems as a response.  This included a plea for student assessment as a tool to aid in the recovery by former Minister of Education from Poland Nuno Crato. Other speakers described the case in their countries including Hjalte Meilvang, Thierry Rocher, and Amanda Spielman. But as Gunda Tire remarked, we can’t measure learning losses if we change the type and characteristics of tests.

Lenora Chu (Christian Science Monitor) led the session A Call to Action. Three actions were called for:

  1. Measuring learning outcomes as the first step towards learning recovery
  2. Learning recovery strategies need to be evidence-based and adequately financed
  3. The pandemic opened the opportunity to build more effective, equitable, and resilient education systems


Research paper: An Analysis of COVID-19 Student Learning Loss

More resources on learning loss:

Learning Loss in Central Asia

State of Global Learning Poverty

Many thanks to the excellent technical team at CERGE-EI and to our MC Polina Zavalina. Excellent support and guidance from Anna Karpets, Fabrizio Zarcone, Tigran Shmis, Renata Lemos, Shizuka Kunimoto, Hala Bishara, and Nikolinka Ivanova was received.

Agenda and bios