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PRESS RELEASENovember 14, 2023

World Bank Stresses Human Capital as Key to Timor-Leste's Growth and Development

Dili, November 14, 2023—Timor-Leste can ensure that every Timorese can reach their potential through strategic investment in the education, skills, and health of its people, and by implementing action plans and regular evaluations to ensure all investments have maximum impact, a World Bank report released on Tuesday said.

Timor-Leste’s Human Capital Index (HCI) increased from 0.41 in 2010 to 0.45 in 2020. The World Bank’s Human Capital Review (HCR) found that, despite recent improvements, significant challenges remain in providing Timorese with the education, skills, and health they need to succeed, according to the report, Seizing Opportunities of a Lifetime. A range of key interventions could substantially enhance the quality and effectiveness of public spending on health, education, and social protection, the report says.

Timor-Leste’s population has a median age of 21, and 35 percent of the population is under the age of 15, making investment in the human capital of this large cohort of children and youth central to furthering the country’s economic growth and development goals.

“The Human Capital Review lays out a blueprint that, if implemented decisively, could mark a turning point for Timor-Leste’s development trajectory," said World Bank Regional Director for Human Development in the East Asia and Pacific Alberto Rodriguez. “By investing in the health, nutrition and education of the next generation, Timor-Leste can unlock a future of greater opportunity and shared prosperity.”

The report suggests a series of practical steps aimed at improving the efficiency of public spending and stimulating demand for health, education, and social services. In addition, it outlines measures targeted at improving health, nutrition and education outcomes and closing critical skills gaps. Finally, the report proposes steps to foster evidence-based policy design, monitoring, evaluation, and accountability.

The report's launch comes as the Government of Timor-Leste launches the Inter-Ministerial Task Force for Social Affairs. Chaired by Vice-Prime Minister Mariano Sabino, the Task Force will focus on early childhood development, youth empowerment, nutrition, and food security, and will take a cross-sectoral approach that will be coordinated among ministries. With regular monitoring and evaluation, the Task Force will provide guidance and accountability to ensure programs have a lasting and transformative impact.

“Our government is steadfast in its commitment to making these recommendations a reality,” said Vice-Prime Minister Sabino. “The establishment of this Task Force is a testament to our dedication to forging a resilient and inclusive future for every citizen of Timor-Leste.”

The objectives of the Task Force and the Human Capital Review align in their focus on specific improvements that can significantly better the lives of the most vulnerable. The Human Capital Review urges the government, development partners, and community leaders to work together to make the most of available resources and improve essential services. The Task Force will lead this joint effort, bringing together various initiatives to meet common goals and ensure that Timor-Leste’s most valuable asset—its people—are empowered to lead the nation toward a future of prosperity and growth.



Kym Smithies
(646) 407-8629
Ana Teresa Sequeira (Sandy)


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