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Big jump in number of poor and very poor schoolgoing children in Covid aftermath

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An estimated 1.9 million children of the 9 million in the schoolgoing age could be categorised as poor and very poor, which is a very high proportion, the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) said, revealing data from January 2021.

Dr Kraiyos Patrawart, Deputy Manager, said the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic has caused the income of these families of children and youth to drop to an average of 1,094 baht per month, with most of their income from agriculture or other fields, but has additional income from state welfare and compensation, said Dr Kraiyos.

The impact caused the number of extra-poor children screened in the new semester 1/2021 to increase to a new high record, which is 1,302,968 or increase by 128,524 from the 2nd semester of 2020.

NESDB also surveyed students in extra poverty in 29 provinces experiencing learning difficulties during Covid-19 due to lack of electricity and equipment. It found that 87.94% or 271,888 extra-poor students were facing problems. The top 5 provinces with the most problems were Narathiwat, Pattani, Tak, Nakhon Ratchasima and Yala.

Due to the risk that extra-poor children will fall out of the education system, the EEF has stepped in to help support additional scholarships so that students during the outbreak period can return to school.

As of August, 294,454 exceptionally poor students, 82.82%, or 242,081, had entered the education system. But there are still 43,060 children, or 14.6%, with no information that they have returned to study. Most of them were in Grade 6 of 33,710 and Grade 12 of 8,699.

A study in Southeast Asian countries found that distance education lost about 50% of student’s knowledge or about half a year. If the situation continues until the end of December 2021, the rate of learning lost among children will increase as much as a year. Such forecasts will affect the economy in the future that will be worth more than $9 trillion in losses, said Dilaka Lathapipat, Human Development Economist for the Education Unit of the World Bank based in Bangkok.

In Thailand, if the situation remains unchanged until the end of December 2021, the learning loss rate will be around 1.27 years, costing about $390 billion or equivalent to 30% of GDP.

In the future, this group of children will gradually enter the labour market. The loss of knowledge means a deterioration in the quality of the labour market and these children will have to stay in the labour market until 2081, or 60 years from now. Human capital lost during this period will directly reduce the growth potential of the economy, both capital accumulation and product including a decrease in development in all aspects

Published : September 05, 2021