While the schooling disruption for one full academic year has certainly affected learning, a new survey by Azim Premji University done across 1137 public schools in 44 districts paints a worrying picture on how much is lost.
Children not learning what they were supposed to in the current class is one, but the survey highlights how children have also forgotten what they studied in their previous class. The survey term it as a "regression in their curricular learning".
The survey done in public schools across 5 states studied extent of learning loss in language and mathematics across classes 2 to 6.
In language - 92 percent children on an average lost at least 1 specific ability from previous year.
This was across class rooms 2 to 6 -- the foundational years of learning that pave way for complex concepts.
In language the survey finds that for foundational abilities like describing a picture or their experiences orally more than 45 percent children in each of the classes had forgotten.
Almost 71 percent in class 2 and 67 percent in class 3 had moved back on reading fluency. Reading with comprehension and writing simple sentences based on a picture also saw learning loss.
In mathematics nearly 82 percent of children have lost at least one specific mathematical ability from the previous year.
As the grades go up so does the quantum of learning lost -- more than 80 percent in classes 4 to 6.
From identifying single and two-digit numbers to recognizing shapes, to performing basic arithmetic operations, nearly 48 percent children in class 3 and 39 percent in class 5 could not do the basics. The loss in reading and drawing inferences from data has been more than 67 percent in class 5 and 60 percent in class 6.
The teachers who were surveyed said they were in a 'double dilemma' whether to start from last year's course work or the syllabus of the new class for 2021-22.
Survey also highlights that the learning loss is not limited to just public schools. Even in private schools remote learning modes have not added much to learning. Hence reopening of schools and resuming direct teaching and learning is key to address the problem. Also adding that most children who participated in the survey did not want to go back home.