The learning crisis

“Going to school, day after day, and not understanding anything is a miserable experience” - Karthik Muralidharan, RISE India Principal Investigator

Even though schooling has increased massively in recent decades, we are facing a global learning crisis. This is because schooling does not automatically result in learning. In fact, education systems leave a lot of children behind in learning as they progress in schooling.

How serious is this crisis?

In India, more than half of Grade 5 students have not mastered Grade 2 literacy. In Nigeria, only roughly 1 in 10 women who completed Grade 6 can read a single sentence in their native language.

Many children start to fall behind as early as Grade 3, before they have mastered foundational skills such as basic literacy and numeracy, which means that they have no chance of catching up later. This lack of learning can create a miserable school experience for many children, causing some to drop out of school altogether.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the learning crisis. How should education systems respond?

What can we do?

Many nations are devoting great efforts to improving education, but with little result. This is because tackling individual problems (such as teacher absenteeism) or increasing individual inputs (such as textbooks) isn’t working to improve learning.

In order to address the learning crisis, we must create education systems that are coherent for learning, meaning that every piece of the system works together with the aim of increasing learning.

For more, see our list of RISE research outputs on the learning crisis.

Video: What is the Global Learning Crisis?