Indonesia's prosperity threatened by school closures

Ni Kadek Suriani was looking forward to starting her second year of junior high school last year, before the pandemic hit.

When her parents lost their jobs, she was forced to help make a living on Indonesia's holiday island of Bali.

The 13 year-old is now studying at the headquarters of local charity Bali Street Mums, who sponsor her studies.

"I almost dropped out of school because of economic problems, my parents didn't work, my mother and father didn't work and I had time selling tissues at traffic lights, then I was taken to this foundation to be helped so that I could go to school again."

Like many countries, experts fear that the long school closures in Indonesia are having a devastating long term impact for 68 million students and its wider economy.

According to World Bank Data, Indonesian schools were closed for 55 weeks to August 4.

With schools shut, Indonesia developed an emergency, simplified curriculum and set up online lessons.

Researchers and social workers told Reuters the assignments were often rudimentary at best.

"The consequences of students dropping out of school, of course they wouldn't be able to gain quality education and this will affect their future in which they wouldn't be equipped with significant skills and also knowledge to be able to compete in the workforce and this will in turn affect their earnings."

The report estimated that the loss of learning during the pandemic will cost students at least $253 billion in lifetime earnings.

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