Kids born today won’t achieve half their potential: WB

    The World Bank Headquarters in Washington.

    WHILE several administrations have adopted and sustained strategies to build human capital in the country, they have not succeeded in growing sufficiently the capacity and good governance needed to implement these efforts on the ground, a report released by the World Bank yesterday said.

    According to the report titled, The Human Capital Index 2020 Update, the country has a human capital index (HCI) score of 0.52.

    The HCI ranges between zero and one and is measured in terms of the productivity of the next generation of workers relative to the benchmark of complete education and full health.

    The World Bank said an economy in which a child born today can expect complete education and full health will score a value of one on the index.

    “The country’s HCI score of 0.52 means that children born in the country today will fail to achieve almost half their potential. The importance that governments in the 1970s accorded to mass education in the country jump-started an expansion in school enrollment, with primary gross enrollment rates at about 100 percent and rates nearing 90 percent at the secondary level in 2017,” the report said.

    A boy collects used plastic bottles in North Bay in Navotas. (PHOTO by RHOY COBILLA)

    “However, while access has increased, quality remains an issue, with 15-year-old Philippine students scoring lower than students in nearly all other participating countries in the latest round of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018,” it added.

    The report said while successive governments in the Philippines have enacted human capital development laws that reflect principles similar to those espoused by more successful countries, “they have generally failed to provide adequate financing to ensure effective implementation.”

    “The country spends 4.4 percent of its gross domestic product on its health programs and 3.5 percent on education programs, compared with an average of 6.5 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, for an average country at the same income level,” the report said.

    “This has resulted in understaffed and overcrowded clinics and schools, underpaid providers, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of administrative and technical capacity, especially at local schools and health facilities,” it added.

    The report said the absence of adequate funding has also hampered efforts to improve governance.

    “Widespread fraud in the distribution of textbooks, theft of funds or supplies, and ghost workers (workers who are paid but do not carry out their jobs) in municipal health facilities are all reflected in the country’s outcomes,” the World Bank said.

    “In the PISA 2018 exam, about four-fifths of students (81 percent) achieved lower than a minimum level of proficiency in reading, while a similarly high percentage of students performed below the minimum level of proficiency in mathematics,” it added.

    The World Bank said the lack of adequate financing has particularly affected the country’s low-income households and more remote regions, which now lag behind the rest of the country in terms of access to services.

    The World Bank said multisectoral strategies are most likely to effectively address the complex underlying determinants of human capital outcomes.

    “Policies that cut across sectors and lines of authority can also be especially beneficial to countries such as the Philippines that have limited resources and technical and administrative capacity,” the report said.

    “In the last 40 years, successive governments in the Philippines have adopted policies that involved more than one sector, promoted integrated approaches, and encouraged greater participation by stakeholders in service delivery,” it added.

    The report said the Philippines has several programs that are organized on multisectoral lines, an example is the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), which provides cash to poor households with children aged between zero and 14 years old who live in poor areas.

    In return, the beneficiary households are required to undertake certain activities aimed at improving their children’s health and education.

    “Thus, 4Ps integrates human capital development with poverty reduction efforts,” the World Bank said.