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Human Capital

Measuring learning to avoid “flying blind”

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Measuring learning outcomes allows countries to plan better, as it shows the magnitude and characteristics of their learning challenges. Photo: Sarah Farhat/ World Bank

Just three weeks after becoming Minister of Education in Peru, my team and I received the results from the 2012 round of PISA. Peru was ranked last. Not next to last, not bottom 10%.  It was last.

Education, which never made headlines in the country, was on the front pages. For some people in the media, the fact that PISA was only administered to a subset of rich and middle-income countries around the world was not important, that was just a footnote. For them, Peruvian students were the worst in the world.

2018: A year of influence, impact and cooperation on global issues through social media

Zubedah Robinson's picture


​In 2018, the themes of climate change, disruptive technology, and human capital were not only priorities for the World Bank Group, but for governments, private companies, and international organizations of all kinds. The level of partnership online among these groups has been unprecedented as the world collectively tries to address global challenges.

The same kind of cooperation that is driving impact on the ground is also driving awareness and advocacy more broadly as the world rises to these challenges. Below are just a few examples of how collaboration online has strengthened and amplified the global effort to end poverty in 2018 across three key themes.

What have we learned this year? The latest in research from the Africa Chief Economist’s Office

David Evans's picture



In the Africa Chief Economist’s Office, we seek to generate knowledge on key development issues around the continent. We also host the Gender Innovation Lab, which – as the name suggests – specifically generates evidence on how to close the gender gap in Africa. Over the course of 2018, we’ve produced a range of products (regional reports and updates), but we also produce academic articles and book chapters seeking to answer key, specific development questions.

To build human capital, prioritize women’s empowerment

Annette Dixon's picture



Last month, I attended the International Family Planning Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where policymakers from across the world gathered to strategize about ways to achieve a demographic dividend—the increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita that comes from having a young and productive labor force driving economic growth that is faster than  population growth.  I was heartened to be joined by ministers of finance and representatives of the highest levels of government, all of whom agreed that women’s empowerment–which centrally includes access to reproductive health services–-is essential for inclusive, sustainable growth.

Stronger social accountability, key to closing “human capital gap”

Jeff Thindwa's picture



With the creation of the World Bank’s Human Capital project and launch of the Human Capital Index in October 2018 it is fitting for social accountability practitioners to ask how countries would be able to close the ‘human capital gap’ and to be accountable for their efforts?

Artificial intelligence, big data: Opportunities for enhancing human development in Thailand and beyond

Sutayut Osornprasop's picture

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data can offer untapped opportunities for Thailand. Particularly, it has enormous potential to contribute to Thailand 4.0, a new value-based economic model driven by innovation, technology and creativity that is expected to unlock the country from several economic challenges resulting from past economic development models (agriculture – Thailand 1.0, light industry – Thailand 2.0, and heavy industry – Thailand 3.0), the “middle income trap” and “inequality trap”. One core aspect of Thailand 4.0 puts emphasis on developing new S-curve industries, which includes investing in digital, robotics, and the regional medical hub.

Building human capital starts with health

Tim Evans's picture
Mothers register their babies while seeking health care at the Primary Health Centre New Karu, in Karu Village, Nigeria on June 19, 2018. Photo © Dominic Chavez/GFF

Health is a foundational investment in a country’s human capital.   Will a child live to celebrate her fifth birthday and be ready to attend school? Will she actually be able to learn and thrive in school? Will she grow to be an adult who can productively contribute to the society in which she lives?  All of this depends on robust health and nutrition, at every stage in her life.

Get creative: Join the World Bank Group and Financial Times’ blog writing competition for high school students

Arathi Sundaravadanan's picture
© World Bank
© World Bank

Do you often wonder what kind of job you will have when you grow up? Do you think your school is preparing you for the work you may do in the future? What will classrooms and teachers of the future be like? Do you think there are better ways to learn? Do you have inspired and imaginative ideas to re-invent education? Are you between the ages of 16 and 19 and currently enrolled in high school or a secondary education institution?

If this sounds like you, then enter our blog writing contest! The World Bank Group and the Financial Times are hosting a competition for our future leaders. We want young people with brilliant ideas and solutions, who will be most affected by the changing nature of jobs and skills to share their perspective on what could help better prepare them for the future.

Why are we running this competition? Technology is rapidly changing the world we live in and bringing us many opportunities, but we also need to adapt to these changes. The jobs of the future will be different from the ones today and we will need to learn new things and develop new skills to excel at them. This builds on the recently launched Human Capital Project as well as the World Bank’s World Development Reports on The Changing Nature of Work and LEARNING to Realize Education’s Promise.

I believe Belarus will benefit greatly from the Human Capital Index – Here’s why

Alex Kremer's picture


On 11 October 2018, the World Bank launched its Human Capital Index, which quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. The Index is part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people. Belarus didn’t participate in the Index this year.

Back in 1440, King Henry VI of England founded a college for poor scholars, providing a free education for boys whose families couldn’t afford to pay. At that time, the young students learned to read and write so that they could later work as administrators in the royal court.

A few centuries later, in 1977, I became one of “King Henry’s scholars”. I’m not working for a king, of course, but I recognize how lucky I am to have benefited from Henry’s medieval investment in human capital. One could perhaps call him a “very early adopter”.

These days, investing in people makes more economic sense than ever. Human capital – the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives – accounts for up to 68% of a country’s overall wealth, on average. In the case of Belarus, where I now live, the share of human capital in the country’s total wealth is somewhat lower, at 49.2%.

400 youth from 117 countries to present innovative ideas on how to invest in people

Alejandra de Lecea's picture
Workshop participants discuss their innovative ideas at the 2017 World Bank Group Youth Summit. © World Bank
Workshop participants discuss their innovative ideas at the 2017 World Bank Group Youth Summit. © World Bank

Without investing in their people, countries cannot sustain economic growth, they will not have a skilled workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow and they will not be able to participate effectively in the global economy.

That is why the World Bank Group is joining forces to increase investments in human capital - in the knowledge, skills and health that people accumulate throughout their lives.

Youth from all corners of the world will congregate in Washington DC for next week’s 2018 World Bank Group Youth Summit. This year’s Summit is designed to inspire fresh thinking on how to close the human capital gap.

During the two-day event, 400 students and young professionals from 117 countries will present innovative ideas to contribute to shrinking the human capital gap and foster the skills and well-being of individuals and will participate in sessions and workshops with experts from the World Bank Group, IBM, Intel, the United Nations and Stanford, among many others.


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