Monday, June 14, 2021

Bleak future awaits Botswana’s next generation

A child born in Botswana today can expect to achieve (on average) only 41 percent of her future productivity.

This upsetting record is contained in the Human Capital Index (HCI) 2020 Update entitled: Human Capital in the Time of Covid-19 which ranks countries on how effectively they are preparing their citizens for the future.

The score means Botswana is well below the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 58 percent and high-income countries average of 70 percent. The Human Capital Index ranges between 0 and 1. An economy in which a child born today can expect to achieve complete education and full health will score a value of 1 on the index. The HCI Index measures potential productivity in the health and education sectors globally mainly focusing on the knowledge, skills and health that a child born today is expected to accumulate by their 18th birthday.

With a 2020 score of 0.41 points or 41 percent, Botswana is ranked 141 against a global benchmark of 174 countries and is also ranked 28th on the African continent. Human capital is very critical and the report emphasises that no country has “showed large GDP improvement without at least some improvement in some human capital dimension.”

The bottom 26 countries on the Index are all African countries, the least performing being Central African Republic where a child born today is expected to achieve only 29 percent of their productivity.

However Botswana has since made progress in improving human capital over the past decade when the country scored 0.37 points in 2010. Some of the areas in which Botswana has progressed are adult survival rate which improved from 65 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2020. This is mainly attributed to the decrease in HIV/AIDS prevalence and reduction in HIV/AIDS-related mortality due to the improved coverage of antiretroviral treatment. Furthermore, Botswana has already surpassed the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target and is currently at 91-92-95%.

The best performing country on the African continent is Seychelles where a child born today can on average expect to achieve 63 percent of their productivity. Worldwide, Singapore took the first-place spot with a child born today expected to achieve 88 percent of their productivity. Hong Kong ranks second with 81 percent and Japan comes in third with 80 percent.

The report also says there are a few “resource-rich countries, where human capital has not yet matched the potential that one would envisage given these countries’ development.” Currently in Botswana there still exists a large gap between human capital and labour market outcomes in Botswana. This is because when a child born today becomes a future worker, he or she may not be able to find a job which allows them to fully utilise their skills to increase productivity.

While Covid-19 came at a time when Botswana was healthier and more educated, data presented in this report shows that substantial human-capital shortfalls and equity gaps existed well before the arrival of coronavirus. Covid-19 also threatens to reverse these human capital gains by cascading into education shocks.

Human capital is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction and comprises of the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives.

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