(Washington) The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of schools, threatens to erode the significant advances made in education and health over the past decade, particularly in the poorest countries, on Wednesday The World Bank.
Posted on September 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm
France Media Agency
“Human capital is of vital importance to a country’s economic and financial future,” said David Malpass, President of the World Bank, on the occasion of the publication of the report on the human capital index.
This indicator measures the level a child born today is expected to reach by the age of 18, based on their country’s health and education services.
However, the gains of the past decade could be completely wiped out by the pandemic.
The most vulnerable girls
In measuring human capital, the World Bank considered three factors: survival (will a child born today reach school age?); Education (how long will their schooling be and what will their achievements be?) And finally health (will this child leave the school system in good health, ready to continue their studies or enter the labor market? Adulthood?).
The 2020 edition of the report includes data from 174 countries, representing 98% of the world’s population.
“The analysis shows that most countries prior to the pandemic had made steady progress in building children’s human capital, with the greatest progress being made in low-income countries,” the authors say.
However, they underline that even before the effects of the pandemic and despite these advances, a child born in a low-income country can only reach 56% of their potential human capital, compared to a child who benefits from such a level of education, completed education and in full health .
With the pandemic, inequalities between children will increase.
“We believe that more than a billion children failed to go to school because of COVID-19,” said David Malpass, who represents a billion-dollar loss of income, particularly due to the reduction in COVID-19 learning – an average of half a school year – and potential school dropouts.
And he complained that the effects hit girls “disproportionately”.
This is all the more problematic as equality of opportunity between girls and boys was already noticeable before the crisis.
While girls outperformed boys in terms of human capital, their employment rate was 20 percentage points below that of men, with larger gaps in many countries and regions of the world.
“In addition, the pandemic exacerbates the risk of violence against women, early marriages and teenage pregnancies. All of these factors limit prospects for learning and empowerment for women and girls,” the World Bank said. .
In terms of health, David Malpass emphasized that 80 million children currently do not benefit from essential vaccines and are therefore more vulnerable.
To address the dropout rate, the World Bank has launched programs in the poorest countries.
“We’re trying to restart the learning process. It includes equipment, it includes reopening (schools), it includes distance learning, ”he explained.
“The number of out-of-school children is a major concern of global and economic prospects for the future,” he also emphasized.
Countries therefore urgently need to invest in the education of children who will contribute to future economic growth.
When asked about limited financial resources, especially in poor countries, Mamta Murthi, Vice-President for Human Development, said it was a matter of “managing priorities”.
She points out that countries that benefit from debt relief can use this money, for example, to educate children.
Some countries have decided to increase tobacco taxes.
“The idea is to reduce activities that are detrimental to human capital while increasing a state’s income,” she said.