HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
Jan 16 - 22, 2012
Pakistan is facing a number of multifaceted and complex problems these days. These troubles have arisen due to paucity of resources, internal and external conflicts and under investment in human resources.
Research has proved that quality of human capital is also a core determinant of the progress of a nation. As a matter of fact, the scarcity of capital can be largely resolved by transforming human resource into human capital.
Poverty alleviation and social development has to be the central part of the overall national development. These objectives can be largely achieved by rearing human resource at a faster pace through fundamental structural changes. Higher investment in health, education and female participation in economic and social realms are the most significant contributors towards human resource development.
Education is the core component in the development of human resource. It has a strong correlation with social and economic development.
Illiterate and unskilled people have the least chances of development at the economic and social levels. According to one estimate, one additional year of schooling leads to 0.3 per cent faster annual growth over a 30-year period. The importance of education has always been emphasized by the international donors as well as domestic economists to play a central role for the successful development of Pakistan.
Education can reduce poverty and social injustice by providing the underprivileged resources and opportunities for upward social mobility and social inclusion.
There exists a lack of political commitment of the government towards education, which has created multiple educational systems. These systems are intrinsically discriminatory and biased in nature.
Pakistan needs to develop one single system, which is fully integrated with all fields of education including religious studies. A large number of students are unable to attend schools.
According to one estimate, 6.5 million children in Pakistan do not go to school. Countries like India, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Niger, Kenya, and Mali are in relatively better positions. These deprived out-of-school children get trapped in the clutched of poverty and unemployment and sometimes take up wrong ways to earn money. Constitutionally, the provision of basic education to citizens is the state's responsibility. This responsibility is being ignored and overlooked very explicitly.
Another challenge eroding the human capital of Pakistan is the phenomenon of brain drain. There is a preference and shift of best quality and highly educated work force towards developed countries. This migration is rampant amongst doctors, scientists, educationists, engineers, executives and other professionals across frontiers. There are various reasons for these people including temptation for higher remuneration as well as 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.
To overcome these issues better education can give a hope to our nation in the times to come. Our institutions need to act proactively and make rectifications in the chaotic system of education.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, technical education and vocational training was not given due attention in the past. In addition to schools, the government has to emphasize on vocational education and skilled labor development programs. We need to follow the countries in South Asia and Asia Pacific that are earning huge foreign exchange through the exploitation of global opportunities by making high investment and focus on vocational training.
In Pakistan there is a low percentage of students opting for technical and vocational education and training instead of science and general groups irrespective of their natural aptitude for this field. This tendency arises mainly due to low acceptability of blue-collar workforce in society. There is a dire need to change the perception and draw young folk towards skill development besides formal education. Some practical initiatives can be curriculum up gradation, training of trainers, revitalization of institutions through public-public and public-private partnership with reputed organizations.
Health indicators are relatively poorer than those of neighboring countries. Respiratory infections, viral Hepatitis, Malaria, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Tuberculosis, Cholera, Dengue fever: Measles, Meningococcal Meningitis, Poliomyelitis are some of the common diseases in the population. Pakistan is one of the few countries in which polio has not been eradicated.
Only healthy individuals can give rise to a strong workforce and economically well built nation. Therefore a key focus should be implementation of Pakistan's National Health Policy, which outlines the priorities for the nation, that include family planning, maternal and child health, workforce development, eradication of infectious diseases and meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Economic development, if it is to be meaningful and sustainable, must involve and accrue to all citizens i.e. a level playing field for men and women. We need to explore innovative ways to overcome the formidable obstacle to the empowerment of women and gender equality. There is a need to focus and devise strategies to enhance women's access to knowledge and factors of production. They should be offered a role in decision-making and power sharing in all tiers of the government. Banks should provide them micro-credit to begin new entrepreneurships on a small scale. Only such empowerment can pave the way for faster economic and social development. The United Nations fact sheet on the "Feminization of poverty" highlights that "Empowering women is a critical factor in freeing the millions of people who are caught in the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
Pakistan having democracy and freedom of expression should take into account the development of the human element in order to be ready for the upcoming challenges that may significantly change the fate of our nation. We must take initiatives to have greater market access, investment, technology transfer, education and training, scientific research and infrastructure development. This paradigm shift can be instrumental in revising the profile of our country in the global arena.