Despite all out efforts of developing countries to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now sustaining what has been achieved so far through strategy spelled out by world communities assembled in New York in 2016, poverty continue to persist and income inequality is thriving unabatedly even in high income economies and emerging markets. Reduction in extreme poverty has set compulsions on all nations to concentrate on this issue and also ensure sustainability of progress achieved regarding remaining MDGs goals and for formulating strategies for improving quality of life in low and middle income countries.
However developing countries of Southeast Asia, South African and Sub Saharan African Nations continue to ignore the significance of size and quality of human skills needed for achieving sustained economic growth and reducing rising poverty.
In case of Pakistan human capital development index devised by World Economic Forum gives ranking of 145 among 189 countries whereas other South Asian countries have better ranking. Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, being smaller countries, have achieved ranking of 107, 100 and 68 respectively. India in the same region occupy 55th place on the scale measuring status of human capital development.
For human capital development world communities will have to ensure quality education and gender equality. Sustainable development goals, which aim to provide equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all and to allow gender equality empowering girls and women everywhere, all development programs of countries on the globe must recognize and make provision for the vulnerability of women who account for two-third of 756 million literate people in the world.
In South Asia India has made an all out effort to develop its human capital, resulting in sustained high economic growth rate. India has now placed itself among few high income and emerging economies for having increased access to education, greater efforts put in towards providing health facilities. Indian government is rightly boast of the fact that their all policies relating to economic and social sectors are gender-sensitized. India’s emphasis on developing information technology and making use of digital technology has given boost to their economy and is one of the six leading emerging economies categorized under the nomenclature of BRICKS.
China’s fascinating economic growth during last 30 years can be attributed to their large outlays for speedy enrichment and development of their human resources.
Unfortunately, Pakistan having more or less similarity to India regarding socio economic status until mid-90s has failed to make a mark at this count despite achieving satisfactory growth rate (except recent few years of current decade). This is mainly due to lack of good governance in all tiers of government and total absence of monitoring and supervision of development activities of health and education sector. Besides that despite achieving satisfactory economic growth rate until recent past Pakistan continue to face heavy fiscal and trade deficit. As such under given conditions increasing outlays on social sector particularly on education and health becomes difficult.
Despite these constraints development of human resources is an indispensable need for Pakistan. Better health status and quality education at all levels and tertiary education in particular has been established as the most important tool for sustaining the productivity growth, which in turn determines the overall economic growth trend. There is urgent need to make higher social outlays particularly for education and health. Despite budgetary constraints 4 percent of GDP is promised/allocated for education, but due to poor governance and lack of supervision its utilization lacks transparency.
The focus of spending on social sector development must be on improving educational standards and health care and these two vital ingredients of social development must be evaluated on the basis of their impact on development of human capital, which is essential to sustain the growth rate in all sectors of economy. As such education and health policies must be geared to produce highly skilled and energetic work force capable of making use of new technologies for all income generating pursuits.
Despite all efforts diverted towards improving education and health care status little attention has been paid towards removing social disparities from these areas. Government has failed to remove disparities with regard to standard of education of the country. Students from low income families do not have access to quality educational institutions. Due to uniformity missing from standard of education students passing out from public sector schools and colleges where standard of education imparted does not match with standard of renowned private schools (where access of students from less privies population is totally impossible) and fail to develop professional acumen and lag behind in their professional life. Hence poverty perpetuates from generation to generations in such families.
Sustainable development goals to be followed by all countries spell out in area of education that countries need to provide quality education and maximize access to technical and higher education for all. Yet educational policy in force does not recognize need of bringing in uniformity regarding standard of education in all educational institutions.
Similarly less privileged segments of population do not have access to proper health care facilities, hence apart from comparatively high mortality rate of child at birth and of women at reproductive age poor health environment reduces the efficiency of workforce. Resultantly this deprived class of population remains impoverished despite persistence increase in per capita income of the country over the years.
No doubt corporate sector in Pakistan under their Social Responsibility Program has come forward to play their role for promoting quality education and health care facilities in the country. But in majority of cases where quality schools have been set up these are not accessible to students from less privileged class. Majority of these schools are being run on commercial basis discreetly with very high tuition fees being charged. Similarly hospitals and clinics sponsored by corporate sector in majority of cases fail to provide free health care facilities to poor class.
To promote vocational skills corporate sector must come forward to set up skill development programs in various lines of business deploying latest technologies to provide opportunities for youth for self-employment. Trade Development Authority and Chambers of Commerce and Industries must also take initiatives for updating the business and marketing skills of small business owners particularly women to strengthen economic environment in the country.
To speed up human capital development, it is essential that socio economic disparities are removed and this can be done only through transparent and democratic process of governance. All economic and social development strategies must articulate a national plan for enhancing the poor access to economic and social opportunities.