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Pakistan: Health, education emergency feared

Health, education emergency feared​

Country’s indicators fall below levels seen by world’s poorest nations

Shahbaz RanaMay 03, 2023

The World Bank said that low human capital development could limit the realisation of Pakistan’s ambition to become an upper middle-income country by 2047. photo: AFP

A World Bank-led Pakistan human capital review has recommended the declaration of health and education emergency, as the country’s indicators fall below levels seen by the world’s poorest nations with eight out of 10 children unable to comprehend a simple text.

To boost its human capital, Pakistan needs to invest more in the supply of health and education through domestic resource mobilisation, shifting resources from costly energy subsidies and improving efficiency in the existing allocations to human development sectors, recommends the Pakistan Human Capital Review report released on Tuesday.

According to the report, an estimated 20.3 million of Pakistan’s school-age children are out of school.

In addition, Pakistan’s learning poverty rate – the percentage of children unable to read and understand a short age-appropriate text by the age of 10 – stood at 79% post-Covid-19 pandemic and the 2022 floods. This alarming ratio is 19 percentage points above the average for lower middle-income countries.

The World Bank said that the total cost of providing all current children in Pakistan with a quality education would conservatively cost 4.8% of GDP, or Rs4 trillion. This assumes that all children can be enrolled in public schools or low-fee private schools, at an average annual cost of $240 for each child.

With an estimated 20.3 million children out of school (aged 5-16), Pakistan has one of the largest number of children in the world not attending school.

The 20.3 million figure corresponds to nearly a third of Pakistan’s children aged 5-16, 82% of whom have never gone to school.

Due to population increases, this absolute number remains large, even as the share of out-of-school children has fallen in the past few decades, it added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has likely erased nearly a decade of progress on human capital for both boys and girls, according to the report.

The combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating floods, called as two shocks, have likely worsened the already high learning poverty and malnutrition and limited the cognitive, socio-emotional, and healthy development of Pakistan’s next generation, stated the bank.

They recommended “declaring emergencies over its health and education crises”, saying the country needs long-term planning beyond the tenure of any government and political cycle.

It also recommended making family planning a priority across all human development initiatives. Pakistan should integrate population planning into academic, religious, and national policies and develop its labour market to accommodate the growing youth population.

The World Bank said that low human capital development could limit the realisation of its ambition to become an upper middle-income country by 2047. Pakistan needs a healthy, skilled, and resilient population to ensure high economic growth that is both sustainable and inclusive.

The Human Capital Review has assessed the challenges and opportunities to improve Pakistan’s human capital outcomes.

Human capital makes up 61% of Pakistan’s wealth, yet its levels of human capital are among the world’s lowest. About 7% of newborns in Pakistan do not live to their fifth birthday. Around 40% of children under five are stunted, relegating them to a lifetime of physical and cognitive deficits.

Pakistan underperforms the South Asia region and even the average for Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

On stunting and the quality of education, it performs below the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Child survival rates until age five are far below the South Asia regional average and the same as the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Bank said that while children in Pakistan stay in school slightly longer than their peers in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 2019 regional assessment ranked Pakistan second from the bottom globally in science and mathematics performance by its 4th graders. Against peer and regional comparators, the only indicator on which Pakistan outperforms is the adult survival rate.

While the country has reached middle-income status and made significant progress in reducing poverty over the past two decades, low human capital outcomes limit Pakistan’s further progress, capping its growth and development prospects.

“Strong human capital is essential for sustainable economic growth, to prepare the workforce for the more highly skilled jobs of the future, and to compete effectively in the global economy,” said Mamta Murthi, World Bank’s Vice President for Human Development.

Mamta Murthi said that investing in human capital can also build resilience and adaptive capacity to withstand the effects of climate change, while developing the skills and ingenuity needed for a green and inclusive economy and to reduce inequality.

Pakistan’s Human Capital Index (HCI) of 0.41 means that a baby born in Pakistan today will only be 41% as productive as they could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health. The country’s HCI is lower than the South Asian average of 0.48, Bangladesh’s 0.46 and Nepal’s 0.49.

“Pakistan’s human capital outcomes are more comparable to Sub-Saharan Africa’s, which has an average HCI of 0.40”, according to the World Bank. Another facet of Pakistan’s human capital crisis is its low utilisation due largely to low female labor force participation.

The World Bank said that if Pakistan continues on its current trajectory in human capital development, its GDP per capita would grow overall by a mere 18% through 2047, the 100th anniversary of its founding.

If Pakistan can boost human capital investments and its HCI value to the level of its peers, per capita GDP could grow by 32%.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2023.
@hatehs @Kingdom come @Skull and Bones @Areesh

we're not doing much better.

In the HCI 2020, India is placed 116th out of 180 countries.

Well but our's isn't stagnated, the article says their PCI will rise only 18% by 2047 or Idk if I'm interpreting wrong. This means stagnation. India atleast has been improving its score on various socio-economic indicators and indices at a fast pace.

116 out of 180 is decent for covid times, but this shows that our western borders are mostly a non-issue now and we must do the most we can to focus on east especially China.
The way they've been running this country, I fear some real bad stuff.
As @Cheepek 's signature says, Afghanisation of Pakistan as a nation-state.

India figures are also horrendous, Pakistan need to do hugely better.
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Many students are out of school likely causes are.

No government school in the villages and towns, and private schools are not affordable.

Parents cannot afford sending children to far off schools, there are lacs of small villages and schools are few and far between.

The children starts working in factories and fields due to income constraints, and parents oblivious of the importance of education, they think children will be doing what they have done for generations.

Waderas and feudals, in Sindh don't want the poor peasant children to be educated, they want them slaves, generations to come.

Many other factors....

The way they've been running this country, I fear some real bad stuff.
As @Cheepek 's signature says, Afghanisation of Pakistan as a nation-state.

India has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world – 287 million, which is 37% of the global total.

India has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world – 287 million, which is 37% of the global total.
What a dumb take, by that logic India has the 2nd largest population of literate adults. There's a reason why literacy rate exists, nobody cares about absolute numbers where percentage matters more.

India figures are also horrendous, Pakistan need to to hugely better.
From 2023, I guess that was covid effect.
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Pakistan's industrial sector is collapsing and will years to revive back to normal.

High inflation, lower-demand drive car sales in Pakistan down by 84% YoY

For April 2023, only 2,844 units were sold against 18,826 units sold in April 2022

"For reference, India - the world's third-largest vehicle market - registered sales of 331,000 units in April 2023. While putting Indian and Pakistan's sales numbers side-by-side may not be justified, it serves well to highlight the extent of the economic crisis Pakistan is going through."

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Pakistan designated ‘very high concern’ area in food insecurity

Amin Ahmed Published May 30, 2023 Updated about 13 hours ago

• WFP, FAO report notes $77.5bn to be repaid over next three years
• Political instability, lack of IMF deal to hit ability to import food

ISLAMABAD: Acute food insecurity in Pakistan is likely to further exacerbate in coming months if the economic and political crisis further worsens, compounding the effects of the 2022 floods, warns a new United Nations report published on Monday.

The report titled, Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity, jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) covers the June to November 2023 period.

It notes that amid the current global economic slowdown, mounting public debt has exacerbated the ongoing financial crisis in Pakistan. It points out that authorities will have to repay $77.5 billion external debt between April 2023 and June 2026, a substantial amount considering the country’s GDP of $350bn in 2021.

Growing political instability and lagging reforms prevent the release of a crucial new credit line from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and additional support from bilateral partners, the report says.

The political crisis and civil unrest are likely to worsen ahead of general elections scheduled for October 2023, amid growing insecurity in the northwest of the country. A shortage of foreign reserves and a depreciating currency are diminishing the country’s ability to import essential food items and energy supplies and increasing food items’ prices besides causing nationwide energy cuts, the report says.

The situation has been compounded by effects of last year’s floods which caused damages and economic losses of Rs30bn to the agriculture sector.

According to the report, over 8.5 million people were likely to experience high levels of acute food insecurity between September and December 2022.

The food insecurity and malnutrition situation is likely to worsen in the outlook period, as economic and political crises are reducing households’ purchasing power and ability to buy food and other essential goods, it notes.

The likely deterioration to the food security situation in the projection period is due to the devastating impact of floods, which caused livestock losses and adversely affected food production and availability of food and livelihood opportunities.

It also notes that Afghanistan’s coal and food export revenues could drop if the economic and political crisis in Pakistan — Kabul’s main trading partner — and the security situation in border areas continues to deteriorate.

The report has called for building the capacity of national and provincial disaster management authorities to include forecast-based financing and risk insurance as part of disaster management and sectoral contingency plans.

Among the actions recommended by the report are strengthening the shock-responsive nature of existing social protection mechanisms (such as the Benazir Income Support Programme) to ensure effective anticipatory action and humanitarian response through social protection systems.

The two UN agencies further warn that acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in 81 hunger spots — comprising a total of 22 countries during the outlook period from June to November 2023.

Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen remain at the highest concern level. Haiti, the Sahel (Burkina Faso and Mali) and the Sudan have been elevated to the highest concern levels. This is due to severe movement restrictions of people and goods in Haiti, as well as in Burkina Faso and Mali, and the recent eruption of conflict in the Sudan.

All the hotspots at the highest level have populations facing or projected to face starvation or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions, given they have already critical food insecurity and are facing severe aggravating factors. These countries require the most urgent attention.

Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo and Syria are hotspots with very high concern, and the warning is also extended to Myanmar.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2023

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