DUSHANBE, December 8, 2020 – To provide Tajikistan with a strong foundation for a quick and sustainable recovery, investments in human capital remain central to efforts to offset the immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s health, education, and overall well-being. This was the main message of today’s online discussion organized by the World Bank and the Government of Tajikistan on the 2020 update of the Human Capital Index.
“Nurses, doctors, and teachers have provided incredible services to Tajikistan’s efforts in preventing the COVID-19 pandemic from reversing Tajikistan’s hard-won gains in human capital,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan, opening the event. “Without a strong policy response, the pandemic’s negative human-capital effects would permanently impact the country’s productivity and growth prospects.”
Human capital consists of people’s health and the knowledge and skills they accumulate over their lives. Greater human capital is associated with higher earnings for people, higher income for countries, and stronger cohesion in societies. It is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. The World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI) attempts to measure core indices of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by his or her 18th birthday—within the context of the relative quality of health and education services provided by the country in which he or she lives. Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the human capital gains made so far, as governments struggle to maintain education and health services in the face of school closures, restrictions to protect public health, and the macro-fiscal impacts from the crisis.
“Research shows that every year of schooling raises earnings by 8 percent, which proves how critical investments in human capital are for productivity and future economic growth,” stressed Harry Anthony Patrinos, Practice Manager for Education at the World Bank. “To recover the learning loss caused by the pandemic and school closures, it is important to protect the education budget, promote equity in spending, support teachers, and promote lifelong learning.”
During the online event, World Bank experts informed participants that, according to the latest HCI data, a child born today in Tajikistan can expect to attain 50 percent of his or her human potential in his or her lifetime. This is lower than the average for countries of Europe and Central Asia, but higher than the average for low-income countries. The Human Capital Index includes three health measures: 1) the probability of survival to age five; 2) adult survival rate (between ages 15–60); and 3) healthy growth (no stunted rate among children under the age of five). It also includes three measures related to education: 1) expected years of school; 2) harmonized test scores; and 3) learning-adjusted years of school.
“Over the years, Tajikistan has achieved significant improvements in key health outcomes, but the existing challenges have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tania Dmytraczenko, Practice Manager for Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice at the World Bank. “It would be important to increase budgetary spending on health, with a strong focus on primary healthcare, in order to prioritize maternal and child healthcare services.”
Currently, Tajikistan spends $57 per capita on health. However, the latest estimates suggest that the cost of delivering an essential universal health coverage benefits package ranges from $79 to $135.
According to HCI, children in Tajikistan can expect to complete 10.9 years of pre-primary, primary and secondary school by the age of 18. However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, Experts stressed that, as HCI 2020 is based on data collected up to March 2020, it provides a crucial pre-pandemic baseline that can help inform health and education policies and investments for the post-pandemic recovery.
“Human capital development has been identified as a priority area for the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan”, said Yusuf Majidi, Deputy Minister of Finance, while closing the event. “The Government undertakes important measures to address the needs of the rapidly growing young population, including by increasing the coverage of preschool education, which has doubled between 2010-2015 and continues to increase.”
Investment in human capital is among the three key pillars of the World Bank’s strategy in Tajikistan. The World Bank is currently financing a range of projects in health, education, early childhood development, drinking water and sanitation, and COVID-19 in Tajikistan, totaling over $230 million.
Download the Human Capital Index – 2020 Update.