Human capital is essential to inclusive economic growth and wellbeing. Building human capital is, therefore, critical for all countries at all income levels to compete in the economy of the future.
Countries around the world are increasing taking action on this, with the number of Human Capital countries increasing from 28 to over 60 since the launch of the Human Capital Project (HCP) six months ago.
The event kicked off with a video titled the Future is You, followed by a discussion and Q&A with World Bank’s CEO Kristalina Georgieva, Paraguay’s Minister of Finance Benigno Lopez, New Zealand’s Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, Dangote Foundation’s CEO Zouera Youssoufou, and was moderated by the BBC’s Michelle Fleury.
The discussion focused on creating the right conditions to move the needle on more and better investments in people, women’s economic empowerment as a key driver of economic growth, investing in a child’s first 1,000 days through health, nutrition, and early education, as well as involving the private sector and civil society in service delivery and building the workforce of tomorrow.
Panelists stressed that elevating human capital should not be seen as an expenditure for ministers, but rather an investment, with the HCP serving as a toolkit for countries to make the most impactful investments in their people.
Young people are the drivers of Africa’s economy and future. With eleven million youth expected to enter Africa’s labor market every year for the next decade, now is the time for urgent action to build and nurture the region’s human capital.
The event focused on the future of Africa’s youth through the lens of inspirational youth leaders, policy makers, and civil society to collectively highlight the challenges, aspirations, and actions taken to help build the human capital of the next generation.
It kicked off with a presentation of the “The Future is Me” video showcasing Africa’s youth and the future of the continent, followed by World Bank Vice President for Africa Hafez Ghanem’s announcement of the launch of the ambitious Human Capital Plan for Africa. His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho in the keynote address stressed why investments in human capital are essential for long term, sustainable economic growth, and urged everyone to step up to the mark.
Voices of youth were then highlighted through #Blog4Dev’s winner Sandrine Bwiza speaking on behalf of the 10 winners from 43 African countries, focusing on closing the digital divide. Sudanese spoken-word poet Emi Mahmoud moved the audience to tears with her poetry inspired by her life experience with conflict and violence.
Policymakers from four African countries then exchanged their own country experiences on how to better invest in girls through health and education, reinforce promises with resources, and use technology to help build a workforce for the future.
Global Citizen shared a highly successful campaign to improve access to sanitary products for girls in South Africa and highlighted Global Citizen Youth Prize Winner Wawira Njiru’s work to ensure that children can access nutritious food in school. And 11-year old DJ Switch through a passionate closing video appearance called on the continent to invest in people.
While many countries have made tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom — much more remains to be done to ensure that students are effectively learning and being equipped with the necessary skills for the jobs of the future. In her opening remarks, Vice President for Human Development Annette Dixon laid out the challenge; 60% of primary school children in developing countries fail to achieve minimum proficiency in reading, writing, and basic math. She stressed that to effectively respond, countries need to know the state of their education quality and how far they are from ensuring that all students learn.
In the first discussion, UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt implored countries to focus on improving learning outcomes and technical education with private sector support. UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore stressed the need for a “learning backpack” consisting of literacy, transferrable skills, entrepreneurship, language skills, combined with digital skills that will help prepare youth for the job market. Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa noted that historical conflicts in his country had caused a lack human capital wealth, requiring workers from other countries to fill the gap. This strengthens his resolve in ensuring that every child has the right to quality education, especially those with disabilities. Global Partnership for Education Chair Julia Gillard encouraged the sharing of what works best in countries for mutual learning and emphasized funding coordination to improve effectiveness.
A video featuring the voices of the finalists from the recent Financial Times and World Bank Education Blog Competition was shown to highlight how young people see the future of education. The two winners, 17 year old Nhi Doan from Vietnam, and 16 year old Ishita Gupta received a prize onstage amidst applause for their insights.
In the second panel, Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mary Kawar noted that even with the influx of refugees from Syria, all of their children have a right to education, achieved partly through Syrian and Jordanian teaching assistants working closely with schools, civil society, and government agencies to make learning happen. LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue noted the need for skills such as teamwork and communications to complement technical skills. Annette concluded that the 4 critical ingredients to ensure the promise of learning for all are: prepared and supported leaners, motivated and trained teachers, effective and inclusive technology, along with meritocratic leadership and management, so that all students can learn the skills that machines will not be able to teach.
The 4th Development Marketplace: Innovations to Address Gender Based Violencehighlighted the impact of innovation and evidence-based research on gender-based violence prevention and response around the world, in memory of Hannah Graham, daughter of IFC’s John Graham.
At today’s event with insightful and inspirational remarks by the World Bank Group CEO Kristalina Georgieva, IFC VP for Latin America & the Caribbean and Europe and Central Asia Georgina Baker, and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative founder Claudia Garcia-Moreno, 11 winners from around the world were awarded prize money to design, implement, and capture results of new solutions, including the first-ever private sector winner.
Winning 2019 approaches include a mobile phone app to collect and preserve forensic medical evidence for the prosecution of sexual violence crimes; a study of the effectiveness of police home visits to victims of domestic violence; and research into how youth social networks influence attitudes to GBV.
- Press Release: 11 Research Teams from 9 Countries Win More than $1 million to Address Gender-Based Violence
- Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI)
- World Bank Group Development Marketplace for GBV Solutions
- World Bank Group Gender Strategy: Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth
- Violence Against Women and Girls Resource Guide
- Gender and the World Bank Group
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