The world has been living through an extremely peculiar period due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis: people were forced to stay home; schools closed; businesses had to adapt their operational models; as well as the health sector, which had to rapidly increase its installed capacity. In short, society got struck with an unexpected systemic shock.
The Portuguese educational system, for instance, was forced to rethink its main teaching methods. From classes to study sessions, to assessment, to socialization amongst students, everything that had once been done in-person had to be moved online. Although this is still a topic of great discussion, there is a common sense amongst experts that students lost some of their potential learning experience because of the current pandemic crisis, with some estimates pointing to a drop of 1.5% in the average GDP level until the end of the century due to 2020 Spring’s school closure (more than 212 billion euros in the Portuguese case, at the current currency value). (A. Hanushek & Woessmann, 2020) (Conceição et al., 2021a)
Considering this great uncertainty about the future, preliminary results released by the Nova SBE Economics of Education Knowledge Center, between November 2020 and January 2021, showed that a great share of teachers from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd educational cycles expected the recovery of these losses in learning to take at least two terms (48% and 36% in public and private schools, respectively). (Conceição et al., 2021a) Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see that between July and September 2021, the percentage of teachers that expected that the recovery of the learning of their students from the 2020/21 school year could take the same amount of time dropped to 40% of those teaching in public schools and to 26% of those in private institutions. (Conceição et al., 2021b)
These results illustrate the importance of adequately dealing with schooling in what concerns making up for the negative consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. However, even with teachers’ apparently increasing optimism, it is still unclear whether the country’s efforts will prove fruitful and if they are even enough, leaving a great question mark in the future of the Portuguese economy and educational system.
- Diogo Conceição, Pedro Freitas, Gonçalo Lima, Luís Catela Nunes and Ana Balcão Reis. (2021a). “Online teaching and learning in Portugal during the Covid-19 pandemic: Differences between public and private schools”. The Social Observatory of the “la Caixa” Foundation. https://oobservatoriosocial.fundacaolacaixa.pt/en/-/online-teaching-and-learning-in-portugal-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-differences-between-public-and-private-schools-1
- Diogo Conceição, Pedro Freitas, Gonçalo Lima, Luís Catela Nunes and Ana Balcão Reis. (2021b). Ensino a Distância e Recuperação de Aprendizagens: 4º Questionário a Professores. https://kc-economics-of-education.github.io/ensino-distancia-recuperacao-aprendizagens/
- Hanushek, E., & Woessmann, L. (2020). Os reais custos do encerramento das escolas. Iniciativa Educação. https://www.iniciativaeducacao.org/pt/ed-on/ed-on-artigos/os-reais-custos-do-encerramento-das-escolas
Advisor to the Board
Student of the Master’s Degree in Economics
Nova School of Business and Economics