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Asia must act now to offset impact of school closures

Students return to Shanghai Datong High School in Shanghai, East China, June 6, 2022.

Profound impacts are already being felt by students-and parents and teachers-due to closure of schools in Asia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urgent action is needed to limit further damage to students and the broader economy.

School closures have affected more than 1.5 billion students in 195 countries, and could potentially impact their employment opportunities and future earnings, according to UNESCO. The learning and earning losses will also have long-term impacts on economic growth, poverty alleviation and reducing inequality. A recent study I co-authored estimates that school closures could cost the global economy $943 billion by 2030.

The loss of earnings due to school closures, which reduces labor productivity, will cause GDP to fall in almost all countries.

In societies where school…

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