Virus curbs harm student performance

Virus curbs harm student performance

Study says children are falling behind

Young children are reportedly falling behind in their learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, and researchers are urging everyone concerned to speed up countermeasures and help them catch up for their future.

Findings were disclosed by the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) and Research Institute for Policy Evaluation and Design (Riped), which recently conducted a study on the development of young children and assessed their skills in three areas: language, maths and executive functions.

Assoc Prof Weerachart Kilenthong, director of Riped, said prolonged school closures amid the pandemic have caused learning loss in young children.

Comparing data collected from children this year, last year and in 2020, there is a clear difference in terms of readiness while a further assessment shows a significant drop in language and maths skills of sample groups.

Children are also found to read less while spending more time playing video games or watching TV programmes. Families are also found to read less to children.

Economic difficulties have significant impacts on young children's learning readiness with the readiness of those from destitute families found to be lower than other groups.

"The pandemic has caused learning loss even in young children. It's time for everyone concerned to work together in addressing this problem. One of the short-term measures is to minimise school closures," Assoc Prof Weerachart said.

He said long-term measures include elevating education quality for young children, particularly those from poor families, noting that teacher training is a key element in children's learning and development.

Kraiyot Phatthrawat, manager of the EEF, said Covid-19 has caused not only learning loss but widened a gap in education inequality that needs to be urgently tackled.

He said the EEF has been working with the Office Of Basic Education Commission, Border Patrol Police and Department of Local Administration to provide support for young children from poor families.

Sawat Phuthong, secretary of a committee on young children's development, said childhood development is known to have lifelong consequences for children's future learning and well-being.

He said collaboration from all parties concerned is required to effectively implement a young children's development policy and help them realise their full potential.

Assoc Prof Siriwan Chatmaneerungcharoen, dean of the education faculty, Rajabhat Phuket University, said the pandemic has disrupted teaching and showed that parents are part of learning.

However, she said teacher training will have to be improved to prepare them to cope with changes.

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