Pay attention to investments in human capital (News and Research 259)

Ukraine should pay attention to investments in human capital – Vice President of the World Bank | [Google translated] Investments in physical capital and infrastructure without sufficient investment in human capital may not give Ukraine the expected dividends, says Anna Bjerde, World Bank (WB) Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “I welcome the fact that policymakers have identified priority areas and recognized the need to mobilize investment,” Bjerde told Interfax-Ukraine, commenting on the government’s intention to stimulate investment in “growth points” – priority areas. “However, I want to point out one important aspect that has not been sufficiently covered in the government’s plans – the importance of human capital. The amount of education, skills, experience, innovation and public health is, according to research, the most important resource for sustainable economic growth, which combines other factors of production, including physical capital and infrastructure, “she added. At the same time, the inadequacy of human capital can significantly affect development, according to the Vice President of the World Bank. “Without adequate human capital, additional investment in physical capital may not yield the expected dividends,” Bjerde concluded.

Education System of Uzbekistan | THEAsiaN

Uzbekistan’s population boom poses problems for state |Part of special series in Financial Times| Government mandated “involvement of young people in culture, art, physical education and sports, increasing their literacy in information technology, promoting reading among young people, and ensuring women’s employment”… The government’s Agency for Youth Affairs was set up last year to oversee these objectives. Its director is Alisher Sadullaev, a 27-year-old Uzbek graduate of the Management Development Institute of Singapore in Tashkent, who in 2017 became Uzbekistan’s youngest deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Education. Sadullaev says the problems in improving education are different in urban and rural areas. In the latter, schools lack basic infrastructure such as electricity, gas and clean drinking water. Education in Uzbekistan is compulsory to the age of 18, but in practice the school system does not always function adequately. Unicef’s report says: “At school, now there are teachers who do not know their subject very well. Because of them, schoolchildren receive little knowledge, and parents are forced to spend money [on private tutors].” Often, pressure to generate income for families means university is not an option — particularly for children in rural areas. Last year, the government introduced vocational training for unemployed people and those who completed ninth grade (roughly aged 15-16). There is also a focus on higher education, with an ambitious target for half of all school children to enter university by 2030. New scholarships are part of the push, with $200m in grants and scholarships for students enrolling in foreign universities and increases to student loans at home. But corruption in the school system still affects families and students. According to UNICEF, teachers ask for bribes for grades, adding to the financial pressures many students and families face and leaving many children and students falling behind… Sadullaev says the “year of youth” is designed to help tackle the stubborn problem of youth unemployment. Future labor market statistics will show if these efforts make an impact.

Uzbekistan’s tentative steps towards a digital future | Technology could hold the key to future prosperity for the landlocked country, and entrepreneurs are hungry for change | Other challenges lie ahead for Uzbekistan’s fledgling IT sector… technological future will depend on “democratising education”, allowing for more private schools and universities, and better salaries and conditions for workers, in order for businesses to retain talent… “Government understands that technology is the next driver of growth. While infrastructure problems can be solved and education is transforming…”.

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HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes) | Angrist, N., S. Djankov, P.K. Goldberg and H.A. Patrinos. 2021. Measuring Human Capital using Global Learning DataNature 592: 403-408 | Summary in VoxEU | Data

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