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PublicationThe Learning Crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Sobering Results of a Deepening Trend(Washington, DC, 2022-04) World BankThe Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region was suffering from a deep learning crisis, before the COVID-19 outbreak, with most students being below minimum proficiency levels for critical foundational competencies in numeracy and literacy, according to the Fourth Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (ERCE). The pandemic that hit the region in March 2020 led to a massive shutdown of educational systems, placing LAC as the region with the longest duration of school closures in the world. The impact of school closures on education service delivery was significant. The forced move to distance learning negatively impacted attendance in the education process, both when compared to enrollment rates (-10 percent) and with pre-pandemic attendance rates (-12 percent). Most worryingly, one in four students attending the education process during the pandemic confirmed being disengaged from learning activities while at home. The COVID-19 led to a crisis within a crisis, deepening pre-existing inequalities that characterize the LAC region, as the most vulnerable populations were disproportionately affected. A significant increase in drop-out rates and decrease in learning outcomes is expected, especially for these groups and countries which were already not doing well pre-pandemic. There is a sizeable schooling and learning recovery agenda ahead of LAC, where re-enrollment campaigns, standardized and in-classroom assessments, and programs to teach to the right level will be fundamental to determine the exact depth of educational losses and start recovering.