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Finishing the job of ending poverty in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture
This Bangladeshi woman was born in poverty. With the right kind of education, life in poverty quickly became a story from the past for her. Credit: World Bank

"I have a four-year-old son back in my village. I want to make a better life for him,” says Sharmin Akhtar, a 19-year-old employee in one of Dhaka’s many flourishing garment factories.

Like thousands of other poor women, Sharmin came down to Bangladesh’s capital from her village in the country’s north to seek a better job and create a more prosperous future for her family—leaving behind a life of crushing poverty.

Today, as we mark End Poverty Day 2018, it’s important to note that Sharmin’s heartening story is one of many in Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, where economic growth has spurred a dramatic decline in extreme poverty in the last 25 years.

And the numbers are striking: In South Asia, the number of extreme poor living on less than $1.90 a day dropped to 216 million people in 2015 from 275 million in 2013 and 536 million in 1990.

Even more remarkable, South Asian countries experienced an increase in incomes among the poorest 40 percent of 2.6 percent a year between 2010-2015, faster than the global average of 1.9 percent.

On a global scale, the highest concentration of poor shifted from South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. And India is likely to be overtaken, if it has not already been, by Nigeria as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty.

It’s worth thinking about how far South Asia has come – but remaining clear-eyed about how far we must go to finish the fight against extreme poverty.

Indeed, it is increasingly clear that poverty is more entrenched and harder to root out in certain areas, particularly in rural areas and in countries burdened by violent conflict and weak institutions.

Estimates for 2015 indicate that India, with 176 million poor people, continued to have the highest number of people in poverty and accounted for nearly a quarter of the global poor.

True, the extreme poverty rate is significantly lower in India relative to the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. But because of its large population, India’s total number of poor is still large.

And while there has been a substantial decline in the numbers and rate of people living below $1.90 in South Asia, the number of people living on less than $3.20 has declined by only 8 percent over 1990-2015 because of the growing population.

In 2015, 49 percent of the population of South Asia were living on less than $3.20 a day, and 80 percent were living on less than $5.50 a day.

Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
Primary school students are attending their class in northern Balkh Province. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Today, the World Bank Group released the first Human Capital Index (HCI), a new global indicator to measure the extent to which human capital in each country measures up to its full potential.
 
The HCI is part of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project intended to raise awareness about the critical role human capital plays in a country’s long-term growth and to galvanize the country’s will and resources to accelerate investments in its people as its most important asset.
 
Afghanistan’s overall HCI indicates it fulfills only 39 percent of its full potential, conceptualized as 14 years of quality education and survival until age 60
 
As dire as this may sound, the overall HCI score places Afghanistan just around a place where it is expected given its income level—in fact, slightly higher than an average low-income country.

د افغانستان سوکالي پر خلکو پانګونې سره تړلې ده

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
د بلخ ولایت په یو ښوونځی کې د زده کوونکو حضور. انځور: د رومي مشورتي شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

د نړيوال بانک ګروپ، پر خلکو د پانګونې څرنګوالي په تړاو نن خپل لومړنی راپور خپور کړ، دا نوی راپور په نړۍ کې د هر تن له وړتيا څخه په بشپړ ډول د استفادې پر بنسټ د پانګونې د نړيوالې ځانګړنې کچه ښيي.

پر وګړو د پانګونې ځانګړنى راپور(HCI)، پر وګړو د پانګونې پروژې يوه برخه ده چې د نړۍ په هر هېواد کې د نړيوال بانک ګروپ له لوري د پانګونې د اوږدمهالو پرمختګونو په اړه د خلکو پوهاوي او عامه ذهنيتونو روښانتيا لپاره ترسره کېږي.
د دې پروژې پر بنسټ به هر هېواد و هڅول شي، چې له شته سرچينو څخه ګټه واخلي او دا ګام  به پرخلکو د پانګونې  برخه کې مهم نقش ولوبوي.

د دې راپور د موندونو له مخې، افغانستان پر خپلو وګړو د پانګونې د ځانګړتيا له اړخه يوازې ۳۹ سلنې وړتيا ته رسېدلی دی، چې تر ۱۴ پورې د نيمه لوړو زده کړو تحصيلي درجه او تر ۶۰ کلونو پورې د ژوند کچه ښيي.

پر وګړو د پانګونې ځانګړتيا راپور له مخې، افغانستان په داسې موقعيت کې ځای لري، چې د دې هېواد اقتصادي وضعيت سره اړخ لګوي، دا په داسې حال کې ده، چې افغانستان د نورو لږ عايد لرونکو هېوادونو په پرتله څه ناڅه لوړه درجه کې ځای لري.

رفاه افغانستان مستلزم سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم است

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
حضورشاگردان در یکی از مکاتب ابتدایی ولایت بلخ.  عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

گروپ بانک جهانی، امروز نخستین گزارش شاخص سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم را منتشرنمود. این گزارش جدید شاخص بین المللی میزان سرمایه گذاری را نظر به استفاده مکمل ظرفیت هر فرد در کشور های جهان نشان میدهد.

گزارش شاخص سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم (HCI) بخش از پروژه سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم میباشد، که توسط گروپ بانک جهانی بمنظور اگاهی دهی و روشن ساختن اذهان عامه درمورد نقش پیشرفتهای طویل المدت سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم در هر کشور رویدست گرفته شده است. این پروژه در راستای ایجاد تحرک در هر کشور بخاطر استفاده ازمنابع موجوده برای تسریع روند سرمایه گذاری ها بالای مردم نقش مهم ایفا خواهد نمود.

براساس یافته های این گزارش افغانستان صرف به ۳۹ در صد ظرفیت بل القوه خود در شاخص سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم رسیده، که نشاندهنده ۱۴ سال تعلیم و زنده گی تا سن ۶۰ سالگی میباشد.
 
افغانستان در گزارش شاخص سرمایه گذاری بالای مردم تقریبا در رده (جایگاه) قرار گرفته که کاملاً مطابقت به وضعیت عینی اقتصادی این کشور دارد. این در حالیست که این کشور در جایگای کمی بالا تر در مقایسه با سایر کشور های داری عاید پایین همچون افغانستان قرار گرفته است.

Investing in people of South Asia for prosperity and quality of life

Hartwig Schafer's picture
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. 
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. Credit: World Bank 

Human capital – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

Just look around the world: Technology is reshaping every industry and setting new demands for skills in every profession. The frontier for skills is moving faster than ever before.

To meet that challenge and be able to compete in the global economy, countries need to prepare their workforces now for the tremendous challenges and opportunities driven by technological change.  

To that end, the World Bank will launch next week its highly anticipated Human Capital Index to measure countries’ contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of their workers.

The Index will be released on October 11 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Bali as part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort led by the Bank to accelerate investments in people for greater equity and economic growth.

No doubt, any country ranking gets high visibility and, sometimes, meets controversy. But I hope it triggers a dialogue about policies to promote investments in people.

To be clear, the important purpose of the Human Capital Index is to measure the distance of each country to the highest standard of complete education and full health—or the “frontier”.

The index, irrespective of whether it is high or low, is not an indication of a country’s current policies or initiatives, but rather reflects where it has emerged over years and decades.

Put simply, the index measures what the productivity of a generation is, compared to what it could be, if they had benefitted from complete education and good health.

The index ranges from 0 to 1 and takes the highest value of 1 only if a child born today can expect to achieve full health (defined as no stunting and survival up to at least age 60) and complete her education potential (defined as 14 years of high-quality school by age 18).

What it’s like being a female student in Afghanistan today

Nathalie Lahire's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul. Photo Credit: World Bank

Afghanistan offers diverse opportunities and challenges for girls depending on where they live and the attitudes toward girls’ education in their community.
 
Further to that, rural or urban infrastructure, the commitment levels of teachers, and the nature or extent of corruption in the community can affect how a female student will perform in school.
 
In general, the past many years of conflict and political unrest in Afghanistan have damaged the country’s education system; eroding the quality of staffing and curriculum.
 
The education sector has been at the forefront of political conflicts and caught in between competing interest groups.
 
As a result, the unfavorable political economy has blocked policy reforms and their implementation, taking a toll on the quality of education services.
 
This has led to weakened governance.
 
Still, enrollment in school districts in Afghanistan is at surprising levels.

در حال حاضر شرایط تعلیمی برای یک متعلم دختر در افغانستان چگونه است

Nathalie Lahire's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul
ناتلی لیر در جمعِ از متعلمین دختر حین بازدید از لیسه عالی نسوان ابوالقاسم فردوسی در شهر کابل.
عکس: ناتلی لیر/ بانک جهانی

اموزش دختران در مکاتب افغانستان همزمان با فرصت ها و چالش های متعدد  همراه بوده که این امر رابطه مستقیم به محل سکونت آنان و یا دیدگاه باشندگان محلاتِ شان نسبت به آموزش دختران دارد.
 
همچنان چگونگی وضعیت زیرینا ها، تسهیلات آموزشی در دهات و یا  شهر ها، تعهد معلمین، و بلاخره موجودیت و دامنۀ فساد در جامعه را میتوان از دلایل دیگر بر شمرد که بالای میزان حضور و یادگیری متعلمین دختر تاثیر داشته باشند.

در کل گفته میتوانیم که تداوم چندین سال جنگ و بی ثباتی سیاسی در افغانستان آسیب های زیادی را به بدنۀ نظام آموزشی و تحصیلی این کشور وارد ساخته است.

سکتور معارف همواره در خط مقدم تنش های سیاسی و درگیری های نظامی میان گروه های درگیر جنگ در افغانستان قرار داشته است.

در نتیجه، اوضاع سیاسی و اقتصادی نامطلوب مانع تطبیق اصلاحات در پالیسی ها و انفاذ قوانین گردیده و کیفیت خدمات آموزشی را مختل میسازد.

در عین زمان این وضعیت منتج به ناتوانی در حکومتداری گردیده است.

با اینحال، میزان ثبت نام در مکاتب افغانستان چشمگیر و درخور توجه است.

په افغانستان کې د یوې زده کوونکې نجلئ لپاره د زدکړې شرایط په اوسني حالت کې څرنګه دي

Nathalie Lahire's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul
ناتلي لیر په  کابل  ښار کې د ابوالقاسم فردوسي د نجونو په عالي لیسه کې له یو شمیر نجونو زده کوونکو سره د دغې لیسې څخه د لیدنې پر مهال. انځور: ناتلي لیر/ نړیوال بانک

د افغانستان په ښونځیو کې د نجونو زده کړه له ډیرو ستونزو او فرصتونو څخه برخمنه ده، چې تر ډیر حده دغه وضعیت د نجونو د زده کړې او تعلیم په  اړه د هغوی د استوګنځای او یا د استوګنځیو د شاوخوا سیمو د اوسیدونکو له لید لوري سره مستقیه اړیکه لري.
 
همدارنګه په کلیو او ښارونو کې د زده کړې آسانتیاوې، د زیر بناوو څرنګوالی، د ښوونکو ژمنتیا او همدارنګه په ټولنه کې د فساد د لمنې غوړیدل هم داسې نور دلایل دي، چې په ښوونیز بهیر کې یې د نجونو  د زده کړې او شتون پر کچې باندې اغیز کړی ده.
 
په ټوله کې داسې ویلی شو، چې په افغانستان کې د څو کلونو جنګ او بې ثباتۍ دوام، روزنیز  او تحصیلي نظام ته خورا زیات زیانونه اړولي دي.
 
په افغانستان کې د معارف سکټور تل په جنګ کې د ښکیلو خواو د سیاسي او نظامي ناخوالو په لومړۍ کرښه کې پاتې شوې ده.

په پایله کې ناسم سیاسي او اقتصادي حالت د پالیسي ګانو د پلي کیدو او د قوانینو د انفاذ مخه ډب کړې او د ښونیزو خدماتو کیفیت ته یې زیان پیښ کړی.
 
په ورته مهال، روان حالت د ښې حکومتولی پر وړاندې کمزورتیا زیږولې ده.
 
خو بیا هم د افغانستان په ښونځیو کې د نوم لیکنې بهیر بې سارۍ او د پام وړ دی.

Are Pakistan’s urban professional women immune to sexual harassment?

Saman Amir's picture

Woman face harassment in all type of jobs, no matter where or who. One can’t say that she works in a big firm so she is safe… [but] she doesn’t know who will believe her if she reports harassment – she… fears that the others will say she is asking for it.  Thus, she doesn’t say anything.” -Young working woman in Quetta.

This statement was echoed by 93 educated women of all ages in the Pakistani cities of Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi.

In the era of the #MeToo Movement, focus group discussions with these women affirmed that sexual harassment continues to be a part of the experience of urban educated Pakistani women seeking jobs.
 
The good news is that there’s legislation to protect against harassment, the bad is that few know about it and fewer feel comfortable reporting harassment.

For employed women, sexual harassment disrupts careers and dampens professional potential; its fear can deter women from entering the labor force at all.

We explore this as part of a study on female labor force participation in Pakistan with the Center for Gender and Policy Studies and support from the Pakistan Gender Platform. 

The women we spoke with talked about experiencing sexual, physical, verbal, non-verbal or psychological harassment at the hands of supervisors, senior staff members and colleagues, as well as strangers in public transport and spaces.

They also highlighted cyberstalking, staring, phone numbers being leaked, lewd comments, stalking in public places and harassment on public transport as common occurrences, and that such harassment occurs regardless of a woman’s age or socio-economic status.

Announcing the winners of the 2018 #OneSouthAsia Photo Contest

World Bank South Asia's picture


Home to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, South Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions.

It's also one of the least integrated.

A few numbers say it all: Intra-regional trade accounts for only 5 percent of South Asia’s total trade; Intra-regional investment is smaller than 1 percent of overall investment.

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