A new study by the World Bank says Uganda is underinvesting in the potential of her population, placing it in position 137 out of 157 countries examined.
The study concludes that countries like Uganda on the bottom of the Human Capital Index (HCI) are failing to provide millions of their children with basic things such as a proper diet, education, and healthcare in their formative years. This, the study notes, makes the children to lag behind for a lifetime.
HCI seeks to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18. The index values the productivity of the next generation of workers, compared to a benchmark of complete standard education and full health.
It has three components – survival, expected years of quality-adjusted school, and health environment.
For example, the HCI study reveals that a child born in Uganda today will only achieve 38 per cent of his/her productive potential in life because of the limited investments that the country makes in developing children.
One can only attain 100 per cent of their potential if they enjoy complete education and full health during their childhood, the study notes.
This means that children born in Uganda today will lose more than 60 per cent of their potential lifetime earnings because government is currently not making effective investments to ensure they are healthy, educated and ready for the workplace of the future.
Human capital consists of the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realise their potential as productive members of society.
The solution, the World Bank Group says, is in ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies through developing human capital.
This, the bank adds, requires investing in people through nutrition, healthcare, quality education, jobs and skills.
“The cost of inaction on human capital development is going up. Without human capital, countries cannot sustain economic growth, will not have a workforce that is prepared for the more highly-skilled jobs of the future, and will not compete effectively in the global economy,” the bank said.
It added: “The Human Capital Project is expected to help create the political space for national leaders to prioritise transformational human capital investments.
The objective is rapid progress towards a world in which all children arrive in school well-nourished and ready to learn, can expect to attain real learning in the classroom, and are able to enter the job market as healthy, skilled, and productive adults.”
In Uganda, the probability of surviving the first five years after birth is 95 out of 100. However, 29 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
When it comes to the expected years of school, a child who starts school at age four can expect to complete seven years of school by her 18th birthday.
Factoring in what children actually learn, the study concludes, that the expected years of school is only 4.5 years.
Meanwhile, students in Uganda score 397 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment in harmonised test scores.
Across Uganda, 70 per cent of 15-year-olds will survive until age 60. This statistic is a proxy for the range of fatal and non-fatal health outcomes that a child born today would experience as an adult under current conditions.
Globally, Asian countries topped with Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong being in the top four while Nigeria, Liberia, Mali and Niger lead from bottom.
Summary for Uganda
Human Capital Index: A child born in Uganda today will be 38 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
Probability of Survival to Age 5: 95 out of 100 children born in Uganda survive to age 5.
Expected Years of School: In Uganda, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 7 years of school by the 18th birthday.
Harmonised Test Scores: Students in Uganda score 397 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
Learning-adjusted Years of School: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 4.5 years.
Adult Survival Rate: Across Uganda, 70 per cent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60. This statistic is a proxy for the range of fatal and non-fatal health outcomes that a child born today would experience as an adult under current conditions.
Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 71 out of 100 children are not stunted. 29 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime
By Daily Monitor