KUALA LUMPUR: Students affected by school closures in developing Asia stand to lose an average of US$180 (US$1=RM4.10), representing a 2.4 per cent decline, in expected annual earnings, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The present value of these future earning losses adds up to an estimated U$1.25 trillion, equivalent to 5.4 per cent of the region's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, the bank said in its flagship economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021.

"In a more optimistic scenario for the effectiveness of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, total losses are equivalent to U$0.8 trillion (3.6 per cent of 2020 GDP).

"But a pessimistic scenario puts the losses at U$1.8 trillion (7.6 per cent of GDP)," it said, adding that learning and earning losses will rise the longer that schools remain closed.

Given that learning losses will substantially reduce future productivity and earnings, ADB suggested that governments adopt policies to help mitigate the potential damage and ensure that education systems emerge from this pandemic better than they were before.

It said schools were closed to varying degrees across developing Asia, where in a quarter of the region's economies, schools were closed for 200-300 days, and in another fifth for a year or more.

ADB said only a handful of economies managed to keep schools open continuously. Remote learning strategies were deployed in most economies to keep students learning.

"But many students are constrained by access to resources like computers and the internet. This has limited their ability to learn when at home.

Overall, students in developing Asia have lost 29 per cent of a year of learning on average.

In South Asia, where closures have been longest, students lost more than half a year of learning, while students in East Asia lost 39 per cent of a year in learning, students in Southeast Asia lost 35 per cent, and in Central Asia 24 per cent.

Schools have mostly stayed open in the Pacific, where learning losses were relatively low, at 8.0 per cent.