CNN reported that, according to World Bank, 1.6 billion students were out of school during the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, and almost 700 million remained out during the second wave at the end of 2020. It takes years to see all the impacts due to these closures but after analysing similar situations, like the Ebola pandemic in West Africa or World War II, we can draw some conclusions.
The article shows the difficulties caused by lack of education via the story of survivors the Bosnian War as they were little children at the time. These people moved to another country but if they stay in their home country, it is possible that they do not learn even reading or writing properly. Of course, it is not the same situation, but one of these survivors told to CNN: "Virtual is nice but it's not the same as being in school. There's the social aspect of it they are not getting, which I argue is as important as the academia."
Also, another important aspect: the impact of school closures is not as significant where children can access online education, but in countries or regions where social inequalities exist, the pandemic aggravates them, as poorer kids may not have access to (good) internet, a computer or educated parents who can help with learning. In countries where child labour is widespread students whose schools close may feel pressure to work instead of learning, especially when parents lost their job because of the pandemic. In some countries, closures can also have a particularly negative impact on girls from poorer families and communities where girls' rights to education are less accepted and encouraged.
According to the World Bank, the pandemic risks pushing tens of millions more children worldwide into "learning poverty" (unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10) which can have lifelong effects on their earnings.
Teachers and education leaders around the world should take action to try to ease the effects of school closures when children return. They should focus on foundational skills in maths and reading to reduce the impacts and children need to get right emotional and mental support.