Australian Wildfires Keep Negatively Affecting Students’ Learning Abilities Years After, New Study Reveals

3 years ago



Scientists have discovered the correlation between the students’ academic performance and wildfires. Turns out, kids who survived the 2009 wildfires in Victoria, Australia, showed poor performance on standardized tests years later, that it was expected. The results were compared to their fellow students in areas that escaped the flames, new research says. The Typical Student team learned more on the new data.


How Bad Was The Damage From Wildfires?



The study published in the journal Child Development analyzed the test results of students who “attended severely affected schools.” Turns out, their academic performance on reading and arithmetic was substantially lower compared to students in the regions that have been burned less badly. And that’s years after the disastres. As reported by the Verge, the 2009 wildfires in Victoria, Australia, were extremely severe as they have burned over 1,500 square miles, killed 173 people and destroyed 2,000 homes, three schools, and three preschools.


What Did The Research Show?



Professor Lisa Gibbs and her team, including clinical neuropsychologist Jane Nursey, analyzed the test results of 24,000+ students in Victoria. In the course of their research, they divided the schools into three categories based on how badly they were affected by the wildfires:

  • 78 elementary schools in the most affected regions;
  • 50 in the moderately impacted neighborhoods;
  • 1,073 in the areas that suffered minimal damage and no deaths.


The research results have shown the wildfires were still affecting kids four years later. The scientists believe that since only specific subjects were affected, kids’ poor performance “might have something to do with the mental development and well-being after the trauma of the fires and the stressors that followed.” The scientists are concerned the wildfires aftermath could affect students’ “employment prospects and future income.”



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