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Published:  8 Mar 2023

The impact of Covid-19 on school learning outcomes: a new report gathers EU-wide evidence on effects and policy actions

A new report from the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE) provides a comprehensive overview on how Covid-19 has affected learning outcomes of pupils. Kristof De Witte and Maxime François (KU Leuven) are the authors of the report that covers the research developed in this field in many European countries between 2020 and 2022.

Teenage boy attending a remote class from home during COVID-19 lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered the biggest disruption to our education systems in several decades. From the start, the European Commission has worked closely with EU Member States to respond to the resulting challenges.

This report will help to identify which policy measures can be used to reverse any learning losses, by understanding the impact of Covid-19 on the learning outcomes of pupils across age, subject, gender and socio-economic backgrounds.

Key findings

Overall, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on learning outcomes was mixed. It varied between no effects in a few countries and large negative effects observed in some other countries.

The negative effects of the pandemic on learning outcomes were larger for countries with longer physical school closures.

Countries with advanced levels of digitalisation and more intensive use of information and communication technologies in education prior to the pandemic were less affected.

Students with greater socio-economical disadvantages suffered from larger learning losses, raising concerns about the impact of the pandemic on equity in education. By contrast, there is no clear evidence of different effects across genders.

Research has identified several types of policy interventions that could remedy observed learning losses. They focus on:

  • compensatory measures targeted to the groups of students whose learning outcomes were most affected by the pandemic
  • investing in quality of education
  • developing adequate monitoring and policy evaluation systems

About the European Expert Network on Economics of Education

The European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE) advises and supports the European Commission in the analysis of economic aspects of education policies and reforms, thus contributing to the decision-making and policy development in education and training in the EU. EENEE is financed by the ERASMUS+ programme.

Published:  8 Mar 2023