Newborn Filipinos won’t get full earning potential – World Bank

Published September 17, 2020, 2:05 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

Newborn Filipinos will not achieve almost half of their earning potential as the Philippines’ recent gains remained short to address its anemic health and education systems, according to a report by the World Bank.


Based on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI) 2020 Update, the Philippines scored 0.52, indicating that children born in the country today will be 48 percent deficient in achieving their maximum productivity potential.

According to the report, while the Philippines made notable improvements in human capital over roughly the last decade, its current state remains relatively weak due to lower investments in education and health.

The Philippines spends only 4.4 percent of its gross domestic product on health programs and 3.5 percent on education programs, lower than the average of 6.5 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, for countries at the same income level.

“This has resulted in understaffed and overcrowded clinics and schools, underpaid providers, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of administrative and technical capacity, especially at local schools and health facilities,” World Bank said.

The HCI is an international metric formulated by World Bank that benchmarks key components of human capital across nations and highlights how the country’s current health and education systems shape the productivity of the next generation of workers.

World Bank said that even the past administrations adopted and sustained robust strategies to build the human capital, they still failed to succeed in growing sufficiently the capacity and good governance needed to implement these programs on the ground.

The culprits noted by the Word Bank report were inadequate and unsustainable funding from the government and corruption in implementing the country’s human capital development laws.

The Washington-based financial institution flagged the widespread fraud in the distribution of textbooks, theft of funds or supplies, and ghost workers, or employees who are paid but do not carry out their jobs, particularly in municipal health facilities.

The report also noted the state of education in the country. Fifty-years after the government introduced mass education, its quality remains an issue, with 15-year-old Filipino students scoring lower than their peers in nearly all other countries.

The World Bank also noted that while there is about 100 percent primary gross enrollment in the Philippines, this rate eventually decreases to 90 percent at the secondary level.

To address the determinants in country’s human capital improvement, World Bank said that whole of government approaches should be implemented along with the adoption of coordinated and multi-sectoral strategies.

“Policies that cut across sectors and lines of authority can also be especially beneficial to countries such as the Philippines that have limited resources and technical and administrative capacity,” the report said.

The World Bank cited the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) as an example of organized multi-sectoral initiative.

According to the World Bank, 4Ps improved the education and health among its beneficiaries, including enhanced food security, community participation, and women’s empowerment.