Economic development, we know, depends on investment. Countries achieve economic growth when they have the roads, the ports, the rail. The fiber optics, the power grids that give them the basis for, developing industry and expanding the economy. We know that investments in infrastructure are crucial. Investments in factory and machinery.
In transport equipment. Crucial. But the most important kind of investment that an economy makes is in its own people. And especially the investment in its children. Economists have come to use the language of investment when talking about education, healthcare, nutrition And the other inputs to a healthy, productive life. It’s a bit of a strange language. The idea of human capitol. Because we talk about accumulating the capitol of a person in the same way that we. Talk about a society accumulating more paved roads or more kilometers of fiber for its communication system. But the idea of human capital has turned out to be a, a very, very useful and productive idea. It conveys one thing very important. And that is that the abilities of an individual and the health of an individual depend on a cumulative process. A cumulative process of good health and access to healthcare. Cumulatively living in a safe environment. The accumulation of education step by step and the building of skills. The accumulation of on the job experience and so the evidence is quite strong that as individuals accumulate. More education, more on the job, training, more work experience. Their productivity in the labor force, as indicated for example most directly by earning, also rise. And similarly investments in health, cumulate. Investments in a child’s health help to provide the basis for health as an adult. And indeed, in this process of accumulating human capital, certain periods of life are most crucial. Of course, staying alive. A safe child birth. Neonatal survival within the first few weeks of life are crucial. But many parts of our lifetime that have absolutely determinative effects on all of our lives and our Capacities, the early childhood extraordinarily important because that’s the time, not only when we learn many of the social and human skills that will be needed through life, but the time of the formation of the brain itself, and, the health that we can enjoy. Physical health and In mental health throughout a lifetime. So the concept of human development includes two related ideas. One is the cumulative investments in human capital in the health, the nutrition, and the skills of an individual through education, training, and experience. And the second is the idea of the life cycle, the idea of thinking for each of us of a whole life span, and of how our capacities, our health, our productivity in terms of the economy, depend on the choices that are made at earlier stages of. That life cycle, and how each stage sets up the conditions for the stage that follows. The more we learn, the more the scientists delve into these matters, the more that the very early stages of life matter. Indeed, even the health of our parents before conception, before we even exist as an embryo, as a fetus much less as a newborn are very important. Bad health, poor nutrition can actually transmit across generations even aside from. Genetics. This is a, a finding that has surprised many, many scientists, but is now becoming part of the scientific research findings. Of course, the safety of a mother in, in pregnancy the Intrauterine development as I mentioned earlier of a fetus. The healthy childbirth and a very good start in life with nutrition and freedom from multiple infections say from worm infections or infections from malaria or other. Childhood diseases is extraordinarily important for survival and also for subsequent development. From those early ages, a more formal kind of investment in human capital takes hold, and that is the education system. We know tend to think of that as starting even before the formal primary education, because more and more children around the world, fortunately, are gaining access to a formal pre-k, as we would say in the United States, pre-kindergarten education. A pre-school even before primary education. But then, of course, there is primary education. A core target of the millennium development goals which calls for universal primary completion. That is followed, presumably and desirably, by secondary education. From there, there are many tracks of course, many Children in the world still don’t finish secondary education. Those that do may go on to a kind of vocational training to learn particular skills craftsman type skills. Others may go on to a two year degree, which in the United States we call an associates degree. Or may go on to a four year university degree which we call a Bachelor’s degree in the United States. In other countries it may be a three year degree and then from there to further professional training or a PhD degree or other kinds of higher education. From there it doesn’t stop because there is, of course a training for specific jobs, on the job training. And I hope for, most of us, adult learning because we have a lot of learning to all through our lives. This is the entire life cycle. That we need to keep in mind in thinking about the role of our public institutions in health, and especially in education, in training and job skills that are so essential for individual human development and for the success of an economy. In achieving, inclusive, and, sustained economic growth. We have seen, some progress. And the big progress has come at least, in raising to. At near universality, the access to the primary education system. The data show that as of 2010, the enrollment rates at the primary level, that is taking the number of children in primary education divided by the primary school age population Has reached close to 100%. It doesn’t mean by any stretch that all children are in school still, or that they’re completing primary education, but you’ll see from this graph that there has been a very, very notable improvement of the situation. Back in 1970, you see that the low-income countries were. Still at about 50% gross enrollment rate. And by, 2000, that had increased to around 80%. With the extra push of the millennium development goals, that has increased to more than 100% What does it mean to have an enrollment rate of greater than 100%? That’s a special feature of this kind of measure. We’re measuring the number of children of any age attending primary education decided by the population size of the primary school age – Group. And since some older kids are in primary school, maybe they started late or were held back, that can give a ratio of more than 100%. In any event, what this graph shows is that at least at the primary level education has become Nearly universal. And another aspect of this that’s extremely important, from millennium development goal two on education to millennium development goal three on gender equality, it’s also the case that at the primary level, at least, not at the higher levels of education. That 100% signifies a essential closing of the gap of enrollment rates of boys and girls. Girls throughout the world at the primary school age are now by and large going to school. Of course, with important exceptions, still millions, tens of millions of kids, not in school, often in conflict zones. Preventing them from access to education. But have a look at how big the improvement has been in the in the, in the gender equality. recently as the 1990, while probably around 90% plus of boys were enrolled at the primary level. For girls it was just 60%. As we can see as of 2010 the gender gap has essentially closed. When we look across the life cycle however Maybe it’s at the primary level, where the most important progress has been made and in a life cycle perspective, where we would like to see all societies investing at all ages in the human capital of their citizens.
We see that we now have to branch out from the primary level Earlier, into the preschool ages and, safe childbirth and safe pregnancy and even before. And then move forward to a more satisfactory situation at secondary school level tertiary education and beyond. Have a look at the map, for example, of secondary education. You can see that much of the world now has relatively high secondary school enrollments. But in tropical Africa and in parts of Asia, places where we know extreme poverty persists, we see that the secondary education levels remain Absolutely insufficient. While the millennium development goals focused on universal primary education, my hope is that the sustainable development goals for the period 2015 to 2030 Will focus on achieving universal, secondary eduction so when we look at a world map like this one, we’ll see a near-uniformity of success in a near-universal enrollment rate around the world. When we look at higher levels of education, the situation, of course, is even more disparate. The poorest countries in the world still have very, very low tertiary education levels, and this is becoming a major impediment To their economic progress. It used to be thought by some, erroneously that a poor country should universalize its primary education and not too worry much about higher education. Then move on to secondary education. Then move on to tertiary education. We now know how limited and naive that perspective is. Every economy at any level of development needs a significant presence of secondary and higher-level institutions. The higher-level institutions, if nothing else, are necessary to ensure that their teachers that are qualified in the country. But of course, it’s more than that, as I will emphasize. Tertiary institutions have an enormous role to play in many different aspects of sustainable development. And of course, secondary institutions high schools and the equivalent, are extraordinarily important, not only for producing high school graduates, but also for producing that throughput of young people and talented youngsters who will go on to higher education. So the millennium development goals has focused on one part of the life cycle, but now we have to branch out to the earlier years, with the focus on early childhood development, and then absolutely with a, a tremendous focus, branch out into The later years, secondary education, tertiary education, the extraordinarily challenging and crucial transition from schools to employment, an unsolved problem in many parts of the world.