World Bank Says Sri Lanka has historically led South Asia in human capital development, but is below the levels of human capital performance seen in upper middle income countries and high income from East Asia and Europe.
Therefore, more ambitious policies are needed to address the twin challenges of the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and slowing economic development and to ensure that future generations reach their full human potential, the World Bank added.
“The Human Capital Index (HCI) score of 0.60 before the Sri Lanka pandemic is the highest in the SAR and is above the global average and that of countries with similar income levels. However, this does mean that a child born today will only be 60% as productive as it would be with a full education and health by the age of 18. In contrast, children born in Singapore can expect to achieve 88% of their potential, while children born in Japan and Korea can expect to achieve 80% of their potential, ”added the World Bank.
“We ask: ‘Why the disconnect between substantial progress in human development but a lagging human capital index? “”
“In 2015, around 15% of 10-year-olds could neither read nor understand a simple text by the end of primary school. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges with school closings and the sudden shift to online learning, which many poor and vulnerable students do not have access to. It is essential to improve children’s learning in backward regions, to bridge the digital divide in the country and to ensure that teachers are properly trained for more inclusive and equitable access to modern methods of teaching and learning. learning, ”said René León, Head of Practice for Human Development. Solano.
As Sri Lanka strives to become an upper middle income economy, it will need to further develop its human capital, with particular emphasis on rural and real estate areas, to increase its competitiveness and help create a modern knowledge-based economy and accelerate growth. These goals place increasing emphasis on higher-order cognitive skills, socio-behavioral skills, reasoning and self-efficacy. The development of these skills requires a solid foundation in human capital. This means Sri Lanka will need to improve its learning outcomes and reduce the stunting rate which is currently around 17%.
“Reduced undernutrition, which would result in lower levels of stunting; more equitable improvements in learning outcomes, especially in rural areas and in the plantation sector; and an adequate and affordable retirement system as well as programs for an aging population are key policy initiatives that Sri Lanka needs to focus on as future investment priorities, ”said Harsha Aturupane, Chief Economist of the global practice of education.
Sri Lanka also faces high levels of geographic inequalities.
The provinces of Sri Lanka vary widely in their HCI scores. The Southern Province has the highest HCI with 63%, followed by the Western Province with 62%. At the other end of the scale, the Eastern Province has the lowest HMI of 5%, followed by the Northern Province with 52%.
Three provinces – South, Sabaragamuwa and North West – have human capital levels above the national average, while the North Center, Center, Uva, North and East provinces are below the national average. average in terms of human capital development and per capita income. The HCI report recommends prioritizing these regions to create more equitable human capital development outcomes.
Almost all provinces have better learning outcomes for women. Women obtain an HCI value of 67% in the Southern Province (60% for men) and 65% in the Western Province (58% for men) and the largest difference is in the Eastern Province with a score 55% for women and 47% for men.
However, higher HCI values and higher learning outcomes for women are not necessarily reflected in workforce inclusion, with women making up only about 34% of the workforce. Sri Lanka.
“Policies to facilitate greater participation of women in the labor market, including better childcare and elderly care facilities and networks, are needed,” added Harsha Aturupane.