Baghdad, October 21, 2018 – A child born in Iraq today will be 40% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health, according to the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index (HCI) released October 11 in Bali. Decades of conflict have impacted a range of the country’s human and economic development indicators. Iraq is an early adopter of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project and plans to invest in its people to overcome development deficits with programs such as increasing early childhood development and the expansion of social protection systems.
The Human Capital Project aims to encourage policymakers to invest more in children’s health, education and social protection to boost the incomes of people—and of countries— and build the human capital that is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. The HCI is a key element of the Project that allows countries to measure how much income they are foregoing because of human capital gaps, and how much faster they can turn these losses into gains if they act now.
“We fully understand that rebuilding our country requires investment in our people first and foremost, to build our human capital,” said Dr. Maher Johan, Deputy Minister of Planning. “We will continue with our efforts to invest in education that teaches the skills of the future, and in health to ensure healthy generations able to contribute to economic growth. We want not only to take Iraq’s human capital to where it was before, but to take it to higher grounds to enhance our productivity and the future of our country.”
The HCI shows that a child born in Iraq today will be 40 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. Children in Iraq can expect to complete 6.9 years of pre-primary, primary and secondary school by age 18. However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 4 years with a learning gap of 2.9 years.
“Investments in people are the most valuable, long-term investments a country can make,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “Through our partnership with Iraq, we are supporting the development of human capital with emphasis on health, education and social protection. We will also continue to offer the benefits of our global experience to help Iraq develop the capacity to measure its progress and further refine its policies for investing in people as the source of equitable growth.”
As an early adopter of the Project, Iraq has nominated focal points within the government to partner with the World Bank Group. Early adopter countries have begun work on elevating human capital policy dialogue across all government ministries and identifying national priorities for accelerating progress on human capital, based on each country’s own development plans.