Students wearing protective masks raise their hands in a classroom while a teacher is teaching at a public charter school in Provo, Utah, United States on Thursday, August 20, 2020.
George Frey | Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned of disruptions in children's education as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which could mean global economic growth is on average 1.5% lower for the rest of the century.
The intergovernmental economic organization said this projected gross domestic product loss, which measures economic growth, would translate into a total economic loss of $ 15.3 trillion in the US.
This prediction assumed that US students experienced a "corona-induced loss of skills" of one-tenth of a standard deviation and that all cohorts returned to earlier levels thereafter.
The OECD paper published Tuesday, citing data from third-party providers, estimated how the loss of students for a third of the school year would affect the global economy in the long term.
It was estimated that this loss of time in the classroom would lead to a loss of skills, which in turn would have a negative impact on productivity. As a result, the total cost of absenteeism could be 69% of the typical country's current GDP, according to the OECD.
However, that prediction assumed that only the current cohort of students would be affected by the closings and that future students would resume normal schooling.
The OECD said the losses to economic growth could be "proportionally higher" if schools were slow to return to "previous levels".
For months, the majority of children around the world have been home schooled and many schools are only open to children of key workers. However, concerns have been expressed that this era of homeschooling may have exacerbated the learning gaps already exposed by the pandemic.
The OECD said that while educators made a concerted effort to maintain learning during this period of homeschooling, children had to rely more on their own resources to learn from a distance. In the meantime, teachers had to adjust their methods to teach students in ways that they might not have been trained.
One suggestion in the paper to limit further setbacks in education in the absence of a generally available vaccine was to further expand the infrastructure for distance learning.
Beyond the pandemic, the OECD said, "There are obvious benefits to students in expanding their study time and opportunities beyond the school gate by allowing them to learn using a variety of distance learning approaches."