Originally published in bigd.bracu.ac.bd on April – June 2020 

Education systems all around the globe are facing unprecedented disruptions with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing social distancing measures taken to flatten the curve. It is an even bigger problem for Bangladesh, where the education system is quite vulnerable, as it is. This study will act as pulse check on the children’s acceptance of the technology based learning initiatives taken by the government, and the long term impact on their development caused by the disruption.


  1. Webinar Deck: COVID-19, Schooling and Learning


The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted education systems around the world, pushing the majority of children temporarily out of school. With close to 40 million children enrolled in school, Bangladesh is among the countries most affected by a complete shutdown. Given the poorly governed and under-provided institutional facilities, school attendance in the country is poorly rewarded in terms of what is learnt in the classroom. The Coronavirus related disruption is likely to deepen the country’s ongoing learning crisis. With all schools closed for a period of at least two months, the immediate challenge for the policymakers therefore is safeguarding learning time and well-being while children remain out of school.

Regardless of its impact on household poverty, the Coronavirus pandemic will directly impact learning outcomes by reducing time spent in learning activities, in and out of school. While in-school disruption is universal, out-of-school learning deprivation will vary depending on socio-economic status of the household, access to technology, and parental capabilities. There is likely to be gendered response in terms of children’s learning needs at home as well. If unaddressed, the sudden nationwide shutdown also risks reversing some of the earlier achievements with improved access to education such as close to universal primary school enrolment and attainment of gender parity in secondary education. Children from poor households and female adolescents remain particularly vulnerable.


  1. To document disruption to learning activities and time allocation, including gender disparity
  2. To inform the government on the outreach and uptake of its technology-driven initiatives
  3. To examine the later impact of Coronavirus shock on a range of child outcomes.


Phase 1 (April 2020)

The proposed project will gather primary data through a purposive multi-respondent survey. The sample frame comes from a pre-existing nationwide survey (N=3000) of rural households, conducted by BIGD in December 2017. For urban areas, a slum-based sample will be considered (N=3,000). Data collection will be done over the phone (BIGD has the complete list of phone numbers). The nationwide coverage will facilitate the analysis of the spatial variation in the disruption to home-based learning activities caused by the outbreak. For each respondent, we expect a 15-minute call. With an 80% success rate, we hope to interview 4,800 households in total. To capture within household gender disparity, we will interview children of both genders in households where possible (conditional on household composition). On average, we will interview 1.35 members in each household, according to our database. So, the total number of interviews will be 6.500 per round of survey.

The questionnaire content will be finalized following a pilot.

Specific features of the survey design are:

  1. The primary population in this study are secondary school children, across grades 6-10 (if the BIGD sample turns out to be small, we will include grades 11 and 12).
  2. We will gather activity-wise time use data for children and their mother (with a small sub-set of overlapping questions)
  3. We will use two reference periods: a week before the shutdown (e.g. first week of March) and current (survey) week.
  4. Pre-existing background information (e.g. gender, age, and name) would be made available to the interviewer as pre-existing records. BIGD has an automated provision to match the newly collected data to earlier records. This would help keep the phone interview short.

Phase 2 (May-June 2020)

We will collect panel data in two subsequent rounds during May-June 2020


Given the broad coverage of different socio-economic groups and regions, the survey will help document the nature and extent of disruption to learning activities and time allocated, alongside profiling groups most affected and documenting parental responses to protect children’s well-being.

Beyond routine activities (such as subject specific learning tasks — aided and unaided; outside coaching; household chores; outside unpaid work; leisure including play & entertainment) — the survey will gather information on the use of digital technologies (mobile/laptop/computer) as well as the government’s flagship TV based learning program – My school at my home.

It is expected that the data collected will facilitate longer-term research, through follow up surveys, on the causal impact of the corona pandemic on learning outcomes and continuation in secondary education by gender.