Universities and students feel that Covid-19 has led to a learning loss for students. Deep-dive research shows that such loss stems from five main sources: the digital divide, slow governance at government institutions, pre-existing capacity deficits, longer lockdowns than most countries, and weak online teaching/learning content.
According to the ‘Covid-19 Learning Loss in Higher Education’ survey by TeamLease, students’ estimated loss of learning is between 40-60 per cent, university leaders state that the loss has been 30-40 per cent. However, this learning loss is twice the estimated learning loss in G7 countries. More painfully, the survey finds that it may take 3 years to repair this gap.
In a comparison between India and G7 countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States, India has an estimated learning loss of 40-60 per cent while other countries range from 9.84 per cent (France) to 31.16 per cent (Italy).
“India has 35 million out of the world’s 222 million university students. Learning is a perennial pandemic for many Indian learners but COVID has been catastrophic because of our many pre-existing challenges.”, said Shantanu Rooj, CEO of Teamlease Edtech.
The survey also found 10 steps to reduce this learning loss. First, the learning loss must be blunted by immediately allowing all universities and colleges to open with necessary precautions. Second, all universities must be immediately and automatically licensed for online learning. Third, Digital India must be accelerated to blunt the digital divide among the poor, rural areas, and disadvantaged communities.
Fourth, the higher education sector must be financially supported by government funds and banks (like healthcare has been) for a one-time COVID driven capital expenditure in digital infrastructure, training, and transition. Fifth, the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) must be accelerated from 15 years to five years. This will accelerate digitisation, erase regulatory barriers between employability and education, and accelerate innovation in higher education.
“The immediate policy response should be opening all universities for physical learning and the most impactful response is bringing forward the 15-year implementation timetable for the New Education Policy (NEP) to 5 years. The university system is in shock and accelerating the timetable will bring innovation, financing, and diversity to overcome the challenges for teachers and students,” added Rooj.