SIGNIFICANCE OF HUMAN CAPITAL FOR A THRIVING NATION

FOZIA ISHAQUE (fozia.ishaque@hotmail.com)
Apr 27 - May 10, 2009

The challenges faced by Pakistan today are multifaceted and complex. They are due to conflicts, scarcity of natural resources, and under investment in human capital, compounded by the global economic recession. Historic data as well as research has proved that quality of human capital is also a core determinant of the progress of a nation on all parameters. Demographic profile is to be improved on all levels so as to rear human resource at a faster pace. There exists a close and statistically strong association between investment in human development indicators such as education and health and economic growth. According to one estimate, one additional year of schooling leads to 0.3% faster annual growth over a 30-year period.

Vested interests, unequal distribution of wealth and power, lack of land reforms, inadequate access to justice, and low investments in health and education have all contributed to the human development problems that Pakistan currently faces. Structural changes need to be made. They cannot be achieved overnight, but now is the time for us to stake out the direction. Female education and female labour force participation rates are areas where Pakistan has begun to focus only recently. The agenda for poverty reduction and better income distribution can hardly make any headway unless investment in and management of education, health, nutrition, drinking water and sanitation take a discrete jump from their present levels. The public sector has been unable to meet this challenge.

EDUCATION:

Education is the prime component of human resource development and has always been emphasized by the international donors as well as domestic economists to play a central role for the successful development of Pakistan. The plight of education in Pakistan is grim and depressing. Progress realized at all levels has been meager and this is for two main reasons: the investments in education have been too low and the schooling age population has been growing too fast. Economic growth is directly correlated with magnitude of state schooling spending, together with private investment. In Pakistan the education system is absolutely divided into many tiers. Most of them are not equipping children with quality education. In addition to schools the government has to emphasize on vocational training and skilled labor development programs.

Another dilemma of our nation is the inclination of best quality and highly educated work force towards developed countries, a phenomenon commonly called brain drain. Practically this migration can be seen amongst doctors, scientists, educationists, engineers, executives and other professionals across frontiers. Besides other factors these people are tempted to migrate because of meager resources allocated for research and development. The funds allocated for these activities in developing countries like Pakistan are not sufficient which lead to rust the intellect of these people. According to UNESCO reports there prevails enormous disparity in the distribution of resources for science and technology between developed and developing economies' GDP. Pakistan is the second country in the world with the highest number of children who do not go to school as was revealed in UNESCO's education for all global monitoring report 2007. This is not only due to the poverty faced by the person which forces them to send their children to contribute to the household income instead of schooling them but also because approximately 37% of children of less than five years of age suffer from stunted growth.

It has been realized by the present administration that investing not only in primary education but also in higher education, in the training of civil servants and in science and technology will not only improve the economic conditions of Pakistan, but also create a better understanding of the global community in Pakistan.

HEALTH:

The health indicators of Pakistan are poorer than others in the region. Several fatal diseases like malaria, Hepatitis, Gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders are very common. Serious efforts are needed to combat the health problems. Increased productivity is an indicator of economic growth and this can be achieved through greater investment in labor and capital. However, investment in capital can only be fully utilized if there is a healthy and educated workforce available in the economy.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT:

Female population has always been suppressed and exploited but never been defeated by the male chauvinist society. he current United Nation Development Report based on statistics of the year 2006 placed Pakistan at 148th position out of 157 countries surveyed to gauge the level of gender inequality. The criterion was the ratio of gender development index (GDI) to human development index (HDI) in a given year. Many challenges are lying ahead for this part of the society. For instance the burden of raising children and making a marriage work is disproportionately on women. Pakistan is desperately in need of achieving the targets to realize the millennium development goals (MDGs). However the goals that directly or indirectly affect the health and education of deprived female population of the country have not been able to get the attention and resources they deserved.

CONCLUSION:

Pakistan had made headway in reviving its economy during previous years by achieving macroeconomic stability, resuming the path for high growth, introducing deep-rooted structural reforms and improving governance. But the challenges facing the economy ahead are still very daunting. Political will can play a critical role in further helping us meet these challenges. US also ought to shift its support from conventional aid to market access, investment, technology transfer, education and training, scientific research and infrastructure development. This new relationship is in conformity with the demands of the globalized economy and the development aspirations of Pakistan.