Most Countries in Europe and Central Asia Continue to Make Gains in Health and Education but Face Setbacks from COVID-19, says World Bank Report
SARAJEVO, September 17, 2020 – A child born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) today will reach only 58 percent of his or her productive potential when he or she grows up as compared to a benchmark of complete education and full health, says the latest update of the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI), which measures pre-pandemic human capital outcomes around the world. This lower than the average for the Europe and Central Asia Region but higher than the average for Upper middle-income countries.
Human capital consists of all the knowledge, skills and well-being that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society.
“Human capital is the most important resource for BiH and it is essential for the development of the country. Unfortunately, the country is rapidly losing its human capital as people, especially the youth, emigrate seeking better opportunities elsewhere. But even for those that stay, deficiencies in education and healthcare mean that almost half of their lifetime productivity will be lost, due to education that does not equip them with the skills that are needed in the market, and healthcare that does not enable them to have healthy and productive lives”, said Emanuel Salinas, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the urgency to act to stop the loss of human capital. Our dream is to see that people in BiH live healthy lives and can achieve their full potential. That is achievable, but we need to act now to reverse this negative trend.”
When assessing education in BiH, the report shows that on average children can expect to complete 11.7 years of schooling by age 18. However, this is only equivalent to 7.8 years of effective education when taking into account the quality of learning. Quality of learning matters most for developing quality human capital. This means that improving the quality of teaching and learning in classrooms and schools around the country is the pathway to increasing human capital and unlocking the growth potential of all students in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To do this, it is important that the country prioritizes education development.
This year’s report includes a decade-long analysis of human capital development from 2010 to 2020 in 103 countries. Albania, Azerbaijan, and Russia are among the top 10 global improvers in progress made on health and education.
The World Bank is helping governments develop long-term solutions that will build more resilient, inclusive economies in the post-pandemic era. In BiH, the World Bank is supporting the healthcare sector through financing for equipment, supplies and facilities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently discussing with authorities opportunities to strengthen the performance of the healthcare sector and the quality of service.
Regional achievements in health
Overall, health outcomes in the region are relatively good by global standards. Over the last 10 years child mortality rates have dropped considerably, with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey posting the largest improvements in child mortality. Similarly, child stunting rates have also dropped considerably, most notably in Albania, Azerbaijan, North Macedonia and Turkey.
Adult mortality rates have also declined significantly, with Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine posting the best improvements. However, adult mortality rates remain high in several countries.
Regional outcomes in education
The region’s basic education outcomes offer a mixed picture, although the region performs well by global standards. Over the past decade, expected years of schooling have increased, with Azerbaijan, Albania, Montenegro, Poland, and Russia making the largest gains - mainly due to improvements in secondary school and pre-primary enrollments. However, expected years of schooling also declined in a number of countries, including Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.
Education quality, on average, has not improved across the region in the past decade. Countries that have seen declines in education quality include Bulgaria and Ukraine. Countries that made improvements in education quality include Albania, Moldova, and Montenegro.
Globally, the HCI report also calls for better measurement of data to enable policy makers in countries to target support to those who are most in need.
The World Bank’s HCI looks at a child’s trajectory, from birth to age 18, on such critical metrics as child survival (birth to age 5); expected years of primary and secondary education adjusted for quality; child stunting; and adult survival rates. HCI 2020, based on data up to March of this year, provides a crucial pre-pandemic baseline that can help inform health and education policies and investments for the post-pandemic recovery.