The World Bank’s Human Capital Review Research Report was released recently, highlighting statistics about Pakistan’s education and healthcare systems. According to the report, over 23 million children in Pakistan are currently out of school, and a large number of children suffer from malnutrition.
During the Human Capital Review Research Report ceremony, Acting Country Director of the World Bank, Gilles Dragoles, spoke about the lack of job opportunities for women in Pakistan. The ceremony was also attended by Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, who emphasized the importance of developing human resources for the progress of countries.
Minister Iqbal noted that although Pakistan had the potential to be a middle-income country, the country’s infrastructure is lagging behind, and natural disasters have also taken a toll on the economy. He revealed that Pakistan had suffered a loss of 30 billion dollars due to floods, and had requested the IMF to provide relief.
In order to address the issues highlighted in the report, Minister stressed the need to increase employment opportunities for women and ensure that all children are enrolled in school. Efforts are reportedly underway to achieve 100% enrollment of children in schools in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.
These revelations from the Human Capital Review Research Report underscore the urgent need for Pakistan to prioritize investment in education and healthcare, as well as promoting gender equality and economic development.
The report, which analyzed new and existing data, quantified the country’s human capital crisis. Pakistan’s Human Capital Index (HCI) of 0.41 indicates that a baby born in the country today will only be 41% as productive as they could be if they had access to complete education and full health. This figure is lower than the South Asian average of 0.48 and other neighboring countries such as Bangladesh’s 0.46 and Nepal’s 0.49. In fact, Pakistan’s human capital outcomes are more akin to those of Sub-Saharan Africa, which has an average HCI of 0.40.
In addition to the low HCI, Pakistan’s low female labor force participation exacerbates the crisis of human capital utilization. In response, the World Bank’s Vice President for Human Development, Mamta Murthi, highlighted the importance of investing in human capital to build sustainable economic growth and prepare the workforce for future skilled jobs. Furthermore, developing strong human capital can enable countries to adapt to the effects of climate change, promote a green and inclusive economy, and reduce inequality.
This report serves as a call to action for Pakistan to prioritize investment in education and healthcare, as well as promoting gender equality and economic development. Without addressing these urgent issues, Pakistan’s potential for further growth and development will be constrained.
“With over 20 million school-age children out of school, high levels of child malnutrition, and low empowerment of women, Pakistan’s human capital challenges are among the most serious in the world—it is a human capital crisis that is profound, silent, and with far-reaching negative effects on the potential of the country and its people,” said Najy Benhassine, the World Bank’s Country Director for Pakistan. “The Human Capital Review shows that Pakistan can realize substantial economic growth by bringing its population growth rate under control, investing significantly more in the supply and quality of health and education, and bringing women to the labor force.”
The report provides a wide-ranging assessment of the key challenges and opportunities for Pakistan to improve its human development outcomes, while underscoring the need for a long-term commitment and sustained human capital investments.
The HCR puts forward several recommendations for Pakistan to boost its human capital, including the need for long-term planning that goes beyond the tenure of any government and political cycle; making family planning a priority across all human development initiatives; investing more smartly in people and developing avenues for them to deploy their human capital more productively; making child malnutrition a national priority; and introducing measures to reduce out-of-school children and improve learning outcomes. “Pakistan needs a healthy, skilled, and resilient population to ensure high economic growth that is both sustainable and inclusive,” said Lire Ersado, the lead author of the report and World Bank’s Human Development Practice Leader for Pakistan. “With the right policies and invest¬ments, the growing working-age population can become healthier, more educated, more skilled, and more productive—and can earn more if the economy generates more and better jobs.”