Knowledge and skill gaps of young people

The World Bank warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the younger generations at risk of losing up to 12 percent of their income due to a lack of knowledge and skills.

The compensation of knowledge for young people is essential to prevent the persistent consequences of the pandemic on education. (Photo:
The compensation of knowledge for young people is essential to prevent the persistent consequences of the pandemic on education. (Photo:

The compensation of knowledge for young people is essential to prevent the persistent consequences of the pandemic on education as well as the future of humanity.

Thanks to the effectiveness of vaccines and measures to prevent and control the pandemic, COVID-19 has been controlled gradually around the world. However, the impact of the pandemic on education remains an existential challenge. Latin America is currently facing an unprecedented education crisis.

According to the World Bank's estimates, children in Latin America lost from 1 to 1.8 years of schooling because they could not go to school due to the pandemic. Under this reality, they can be deprived of valuable future employment opportunities and lose up to 12 percent of their income. Even before the pandemic hit, there were gaps in the education sector in Latin America, when only a third of the students had minimum skills by the end of primary school. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was the “last straw”, pushing the region into an education crisis.

The lack of knowledge and skills is only part of the pandemic's impact on young people. More seriously, COVID-19 has also affected their mental health, causing many students to feel self-deprecating and anxious, losing their motivation to study. Kenly Chandra, an Indonesian medical student, was not able to complete her studies on time and had to give up her overseas student exchange programme. Sharing on Strait Times, Kenly Chandra said: “For us in our 20s, we have lost the moment to personally grow as all our movements are restricted.”.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Filipino student Zoe Tagerino said the pandemic stole that part of his life. A study conducted in the Philippines found that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health problems among people between the ages of 5 and 15.

Whenever a new wave of pandemic breaks out, schools are always one of the first places to temporarily close because they gather many children and vulnerable people. Distance learning campaigns have been deployed in many countries, but they have revealed shortcomings compared to face-to-face learning.

According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), about 50 percent of the world's pupils and students affected by school closures lacked computers for them to study at home. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of teenagers did not have internet access at home. Up to 89 percent of students in sub-Saharan Africa did not have computers. The disruption of education has caused many consequences such as an increase in child marriage or child labour.

Many suggestions were made to help children fill gaps in knowledge and develop skills, and improve mental health during the pandemic. UNESCO noted that teaching and learning should not be limited to online tools, but should be promoted through other means such as radio and television. Schools should also apply appropriate teaching methods according to each student's level, while regularly monitoring their progress to promptly make up for lost knowledge due to the pandemic. Periodic health check-ups need to be focused on to help them improve not only their physical health but also their mental health.

There are more and more countries focusing on bringing children back to school safely, with COVID-19 strict epidemic prevention and control regulations. However, experts recognised the fact that most schools in Africa lack clean water, sanitation and essential infrastructure for epidemic prevention. According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), only about 47 percent of schools provide basic sanitation services.

At an education forum, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez stressed that the wealthiest societies are not those that have oil, gas or gold, but those that are capable of developing knowledge for the future. If urgent action is not taken to fill the gap in the careers of promoting younger generations, many countries will lose the source of skilled labour for future socio-economic development.

Translated by NDO