ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Southern Province had scored 63.3 points in a global human capital index (HCI) developed by the World Bank, putting the area ahead of Sri Lanka’s Western province which scored 61.8.
The HCI looks at both education attainment and health outcomes. The Southern province had a lower per capita income than Western Province which contained the capital and had the most advanced educational institutions.
“However the Southern Province, which has an HCI equal to the Western Province despite being considerably poorer, shows that provinces can develop their human capital ahead of their level of per capita income,” the World Banks, Sri Lanka Human Capital Development report noted.
“The main reason for the better learning levels in the Southern Province is the close attention of policy makers to good teacher management and development.
Harsha Athurupane, Lead Economist and Program Leader for Human Development for Sri Lanka and the Maldives at World Bank said the Southern Province had lifted the level of teaching in the worst resourced schools in two ways.
For estate (plantations) schools which face chronic shortages of teachers, the Southern Province had started recruiting undergraduates from the Jaffna University.
For other schools, the provincial authorities had developed a teacher transfer policy to re-deploy teachers from schools which had excesses to which had shortages.
Teachers were transferred so that the travelling time from home to the new school was not greater than the current time, which reduced resistance to transfers, allowing better resource allocation.
“This policy was successful in allocating teachers,” Athurupane said. “It can be adopted in other areas.”
Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, which had been hit by a 30-year war scored the lowest at 50.7, followed by the Central Province at 54. Sri Lanka’s Uva Province which had large estate (plantations) population had a score of 55.
The government was already spending more in areas with the lowest scores, in both health and education sector, the report said, and it can used as a guide to allocate resources in the future. Sri Lanka has also poured resources in former war-torn areas.
In a global comparison Sri Lanka scores 58 in the Human Capital Index giving a ranking of 74 out of 157 countries indicating that a child will be 58 percent as productive in adulthood compared to their full potential.
Sri Lanka did well compared to other South Asian nations but trailed behind the rest of Asia. A child born in Singapore can be expected to achieve 88 percent of their full potential, Japan and Korea 84 and Hong Kong 82.
Athurupane said the educational attainment of student in Sri Lanka after 13 years of schooling was equal to about 8 years in Singapore.
One of the problem areas was maths, he said.
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Sri Lanka also lagged behind China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam, the report said.
Sri Lanka’s Southern Province was comparable to Turkey and Mauritius, Western Province was around Albania, Oman, Malaysia.
The North was around Kenya, the East around Tunisia and Uva around The Philippines and West Bank.
Sabaragamuwa was around Peru
At national level with Sri Lanka was around Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.