Pakistan is rich in natural resources. Only the educated, skilled and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of the country. The better human capital equipped with education in science and technology can be instrumental in increased productively with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the country. Education is the main tool to develop human capital. The analysis of investments in health and education is unified in human capital approach, which focuses on the indirect ability of education and health to increase utility by increasing incomes. Investment in human capital formation means investment in education and health sectors. A healthy population can work better for the economic progress of a country fully utilizing its capabilities and skills.
Human capital is essential to develop natural resources of a region. Presently, the term ‘human capital’ is used for education, health and other human capacities that can raise productivity when increased. Human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education and health care. Sustainable growth and poverty reduction objectives are concomitantly linked to significant investment in human capital.
Pakistan is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income. In the country’s rural areas, the health status is relatively poor. Lack or absence of female health staff including female doctors in rural areas worsen the situation. The government should work out a roadmap for development of human resources in the country.
Technical education and vocational training (TEVT) system in the country suffers from many structural and operational problems, leading to poor education quality, unequal access, limited resources, low efficiency, and weak linkage with the labor market. High dropout rates and a low passing rate for examinations attest to the inefficiency of polytechnic programs. Finding work for graduates also takes a long time, partly because the skills needed for the jobs available are mismatched with the technical education given. Access to quality TEVT programs also remains limited, especially for the rural populations. Rural populations are still deprived of the opportunities and facilities, which are necessary to make development in any field of science and technology. Computer literacy is the high demand of present digital age. The government should take steps to strengthen IT industry in the country.
The good governance is essential for the development of human resources. It ensures the transparency, efficiency and rationality in the utilization of public funds and national resources, encourages growth of the private sector, promotes effective delivery of public services and helps establish the rule of law. Along with good governance, the people friendly policies, and sound macroeconomic management are also of immense importance in this context. There is an urgent need to focus on improvement and formation of human capital for the country to tap internal and external markets, and capitalize on market-driven economic growth. Governance reforms need to be implemented and the institutions in the social sector must be strengthened to improve the effectiveness of public and private social service delivery.
Performance improvement in the educational arena can yield great potential returns in terms of development in the country. Overall education levels cannot be improved without making a significant advance in the education of girls in the country. The social divide in enrollment along gender lines should be eliminated in the country.
Take the example of Balochistan where a closed and backward tribal society, difficult terrain, illiteracy, poor health indicators, ethnic diversity, and poor status of women are the key challenges to human development. The experts believe that human development indicators in Balochistan are among the most challenging in South Asia and their improvement will need concerted efforts over the long term. With low participation in general education and low completion rates at primary and secondary levels, the unemployment and underemployment rates in the province are higher than the national rates. The province has a poor record in educating girls. Only about one-third of girls, who should be in primary school, are enrolled in the province. The province’s gross primary school enrollment rates shows a significant disparity between male and female enrollment. The province lags behind other provinces in terms of access to TEVT, with the two polytechnics and 11 training centers serving a population of more than 7.7 million.
The key areas need to focused for human development in Pakistan include a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge.
Present government of Prime Minister Imran Khan should encourage private sector but put checks on commoditization of education and ensure educational system free from discriminatory practices for all the citizens of Pakistan. Most of the private educational institutes have commercialized the professional education by charging high fees making it unaffordable for the common people. In other words, professional education has become a privilege of only rich, who can afford costly educational packages offered by the private institutions. These private institutions have developed a symbol of status by offering costly educational packages to aristocratic classes of the society.
The government should create conditions leading to the economic empowerment of women in Pakistan. They should be provided opportunities to play their role at all levels and in all types of development activities. They must have the opportunity and be provided with an environment to develop their talents. The women should get the possibility to enter all types and all levels of education and training. Education and training facilities should be provided to a large extent on the inputs women are already providing.