HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN PAKISTAN

M.T CHOUDRY
Mar 24 - 30, 2008

The role of human development cannot be denied for sustainable economic growth of any country. Pakistan's performance with regard to human capital development is not very encouraging which can create problem with regard to effective utilization of labor fore in coming future. The aim of this article is to evaluate the past performance of human development and highlight the areas which need special attention for improvement of human development in Pakistan.

Human development means not just only healthy and educated people but it has various dimensions .Dr Mahbub ul Haq, founder of the human development report define it in a following way.

"The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives."

Let's first look at the current status of human development in Pakistan. We will use the human development Index (HDI), a measure used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Basically HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: 1) a long and healthy life measured by life expectancy at birth; 2) knowledge measured by adult literacy rate (with 2/3rd weight) and combined gross enrollment ratio in primary, secondary and tertiary education(with 1/3rd weight) and; 3) a decent standard of living which is measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity terms in US dollars. According to Human Development Report 2007/08 Pakistan ranking is 136th out of 177 countries. It position has further worsen by by two points compared to 2006 ranking. Pakistan belongs to medium human development group where it reached on basis of 2004 ranking. Before that Pakistan's position was in low human development group. Comparitive analysis with India and China shows that Pakistan performance with regard to human development has always been poor than these two countries see figure. Iceland, Norway and Australia are enjoying the top three position respectively with regard to human development in 2007-08. One important thing to mention here is that HDI value is calculated on the basis of 2005 data.

After getting familiar with HDI and Pakistan's position in human development now let's move towards the reasons behind the pitiable performance of Pakistan. Historical trend analysis of the human development index shows that it's the contribution made by the education sector which is quite meager through out the past. Although the contribution made by health index and GDP index is also not very encouraging but still it helped Pakistan to move from low human development group to medium human development group. Table below presents the contribution made by the three components of the human development.

TABLE: CONTRIBUTION BY VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FOR PAKISTAN

YEARS

RANKING

HDI VALUE

LIFE EXPECTANCY INDEX

EDUCATION INDEX

GDP INDEX

2000

135

0.522

0.660

0.440

0.470

2001

127

0.498

0.580

0.430

0.490

2003

144

0.499

0.590

0.410

0.490

2004

142

0.497

0.600

0.400

0.490

2005

135

0.527

0.630

0.440

0.510

2006

134

0.539

0.640

0.460

0.520

2007

136

0.551

0.659

0.466

0.528

Source: Human Development Reports of respective years.

The education index contribution is the lowest due to low rate of adult literary rate and low gross enrolment rate in primary, secondary and tertiary education. The value of education index is 0.64 and 0.84 for India and China respective as compared to 0.47 for Pakistan in 2007. The unsatisfactory performance of education sector is due to various factors which are although well known to all of us but still require full fledge attention. Some of obvious reasons are listed here: low public expenditure on education, inadequate physical infrastructure and facilities, lack of trained and self motivated teachers, poor quality and irrelevance of curriculum, distance from school, high cost of education for poverty stricken people, children unwillingness and high gender disparity due to parental attitude towards girl's education, weak implementation and monitoring to education polices and programmes ,low private public partnership and so many other factors.

Adult literacy rate is 53 percent in Pakistan in 2004-05. It is below the target of 60 percent set by Education Reform Action plan 2001-05. Even it failed to achieve the PRSP target of 58 percent for the period 2004-05. One of the Millennium Development Goal is to achieve the target of 88 percent literacy rate in Pakistan till 2015 which seems quite unreachable in current circumstances. There is need of firm commitment on the part of policymakers along with proper monitoring and implementation of the education polices to reach near MDG regarding to education attainment and move up in human development ranking in coming future.