Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools around the world have been suspended for a matter of months, or even about a year in the case of Hong Kong. Loss of schooling is likely to affect a student’s future income. According to a World Bank report published in June 2020, the average student in high-income countries would lose about US$34,021 over his/her lifetime.
Adopting the methodology used in the World Bank report, MWYO estimates the income loss to student in Hong Kong due to school closures under the COVID-19 pandemic. The total loss of lifetime earnings (present value) for Hong Kong is estimated to be HK$270.3 billion. As for each student, the number is around HK$329,000.
Disparities in access to resources may affect the effectiveness of online learning during school closure. Students from higher-income families may enjoy more educational and technological support during school closure. That may translate to unequal learning outcomes, and hence unequal income loss. MWYO estimates a student from a higher-income family to lose about HK$207,000 in lifetime earnings, while a student from a lower-income family would lose about HK$426,000.
Based on these estimates, MWYO suggests the following policy responses and directions to mitigate the negative impacts of the income loss due to school closures :
- 1. Issue tutorial vouchers for lower-income families
- 2. Maintain public services related to education which are otherwise suspended due to the COVID-pandemic
- 3. Schools should assist students in making better use of government subsidies to assist online learning needs
- 4. Better facilitate the application of education technology in schools. For more details, please refer to MWYO’s latest report on educational technology published in February 2021.
- 5. Strengthen internship programmes for secondary school students. For more details, please refer to MWYO’s latest report on internships published in December 2020.