‘Human capital just as important’

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Even as the Philippines addresses its economic woes, it must also look into resolving its human capital concerns, the World Bank (WB) said on Thursday.

“Human capital — the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives — has been a key factor behind the sustained economic growth and poverty reduction rates of many countries in the 20th century, especially in East Asia,” it said.

WB Group president Jim Yong Kim said human capital is the only capital poor people have and urged countries to take urgent action to invest in their people.

“Human capital is a key driver of sustainable, inclusive economic growth, but investing in health and education has not gotten the attention it deserves,” Kim said.

According to the financial institutions’ human capital research, on a global scale, some 56 percent of children will lose more than half their potential lifetime earnings because governments are not currently making effective investments in their people to ensure a healthy, educated, and resilient population ready for the workplace of the future.

The human capital index measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18, given the risks of poor health and education that prevail in the country where he or she lives.

The study also showed the Philippines did well in terms of the overall index.

However, it underperformed compared to the rest of its peers in the region in that only 55 percent of the children born in the country will be productive when they grow up if they had enjoyed full health and completed education.

Malnutrition also proved to be a major problem given the fact that one in three Filipino children under age five is stunted. This indicates malnutrition and limits brain development.

“Children who are malnourished at a young age will face challenges in learning, are more likely to drop out of school early, and are less likely to hold good jobs as adults,” the study said.
WB country director Mara Warwick said the government recognizes these challenges and initiated reforms to further address it.

“Policymakers have introduced universal kindergarten, created senior high school, provided greater funding for basic education, and expanded the Pantawid Pamilya Program, which has boosted school attendance among the poor,” Warwick said.

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