The World Bank foresees significant learning loss in the Western Balkans countries following the coronavirus outbreak, with more students falling back into functional illiteracy and dropping out of school.
A World Bank report on the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on education in the Western Balkans warns that the percentage of students in the region that score below basic proficiency in reading may grow from the current 53% to 61%.
The pandemic will likely exacerbate what were already low reading proficiency scores. Over 78% of 15-year-olds in Kosovo, over 50% in Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro, and 48% in Serbia, are functionally illiterate.
Due to the closure of schools, limited access to the internet, teachers being unprepared for long-term remote learning, and parents lacking both the skills, and time, to aid their children in remote learning, these percentages are likely to rise. Average scores may drop to 2015 levels, whereas learning losses will probably widen already existing learning inequalities generated by gender, class, and race inequalities.
The World Bank defines functional illiteracy as performing below level 2 proficiency in PISA, a baseline level at which “readers begin to demonstrate the competencies that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life as continuing students, workers and citizens.”