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The Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact on the reading and counting abilities of children in West Bengal, a new survey by Annual Status of Education Report (ASER, West Bengal), a collaborative effort of the Pratham Education Foundation and the Liver Foundation, shows.

As per the data, only 27.7 per cent of children in Class 3 could read Class 2-level texts. The number decreased from 2018 when it was 36.6 per cent and 2014 when 32.9 per cent of children could read Class-2 level texts.

The data further showed that 48 per cent of children in Class 5 could read-only Class-2 level texts. The number was quite low as compared to 2018 (50.5 per cent), 2016 (50.2 per cent) and 2014 (51.8 per cent).

For Class 2, 53 per cent could read words in 2021, down from 66.2 per cent in 2018, and 54.8 per cent in 2014.

A total of 11,189 children were included in the survey, which was conducted in December 2021 across 17 districts. Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee launched the report on Wednesday evening.

Banerjee, who heads the Global Advisory Committee formed by the West Bengal government to combat the Covid situation, on Wednesday said that lockdowns have impeded the basic learning of students, and schools in the state should now reopen as soon as possible. "All school campuses in Bengal should be opened as early as possible as the COVID-19 situation has improved and everyone is in its favour," the economist said.

Dr Abhijit Choudhury of the Liver Foundation added: "In 2020, COVID-19 devastated the world. Almost two years later, it has become imperative to assess the academic and learning loss for children."

With PTI inputs

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