ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is trailing behind many Asian and middle income countries in human capital with lower relative education and stunted children, while though the country is doing better in life expectancy, a new report has found.
In newly compiled cross-country Human Capital Index (HCI) compiled by World Bank, Sri Lanka scores 58 points giving a ranking of 74 out of 157 countries.
After 13 years of education a child in Sri Lanka has education level equal to about 8 years of education in Singapore, Harsha Athurupane, Lead Economist and Program Leader for Human Development for Sri Lanka and Maldives said.
Sri Lanka was weak in areas such as mathematics, he said.
Based on the HCI index a child in Sri Lanka born today will be 58 percent as productive in adulthood compared to their full potential.
“Children born in Singapore today can expect to achieve 88 percent of their potential, Children born in Japan and the Republic of Korea will achieve 84 percent and in Hong Kong 82 percent.
“Sri Lanka was the best performing country in South Asia,” the report Sri Lanka Human Capital Development noted. “However it lags behind East Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam.
In Sri Lanka a child has a 99 percent chance of surviving to age 05. About 26 percent of children die of accidents.
The expected number of years of schooling is 13 years, on par with high income countries.
On learning outcomes Sri Lanka scores 400, above lower middle income country average of 391, but less than the average upper middle income of 428. It is below the mean score of East Asia and Pacific of 451.
The report found that Sri Lanka’s Southern Province had the highest HCI value of 63.3 higher than the Western province’s 61.8, largely due to improvements by the provincial council to schools.
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In Sri Lanka 83 percent were not stunted, above the 73 percent for lower middle income countries, but below the average for upper middle income countries.
“The county has deep-rooted challenges in stunting (reflecting chronic undernutrition) and learning adjusted years of schooling,” the report said.
“These are second generation challenges that are hard to address.”
However analysts say in Vietnam, after the central bank was fixed to end chronic currency depreciation and instability, and the country moved to free trade boosting prosperity, removing tax protection to farmers, children are growing much taller than their parents.
Around the time of Doi Moi reforms in 1984 stunting was high and wasting (underweight) was around 60 percent according to published data. Over three decades stunting has fallen below 25 percent and wasting below 15 percent.
The average height of Vietnamese man had increased 4.4 centimetres in the 34 years to 2017 and women by 3.4 centimeters. (Colombo/Sept27/2019)