EDITORIAL - Early childhood underdevelopment

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Early childhood underdevelopment

Officials keep saying that the Philippines will transition to upper middle-income status by next year. To successfully navigate this transition, the World Bank has an advice: the country must increase investment in children’s early development.

A world Bank report released last Monday said that for the projected transition, the Philippines “will need to ensure that its population is equipped with the education, skills and health necessary to meet the demands of a more complex and competitive economic landscape.”

“The Philippines has a relatively young population, which can be a significant asset if the youth are well-educated and healthy. This demographic dividend can only be harnessed with adequate investment in human capital,” World Bank country director Ndiame Diop said.

That transition to upper middle-income status could turn out to be an overly optimistic projection, considering that the Philippines is a regional laggard in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index or HCI. This regional standing is reflected in the Philippines’ national competitiveness, which is ranked second to the lowest among Asia-Pacific economies.

As defined by the World Bank, the HCI measures the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. “Filipino children born today are projected to be only about half as productive when they reach adulthood as they could be,” the World Bank report noted.

Among the factors cited for the productivity gap, apart from pervasive poverty and inequality, are inadequate and unequal access to education and health services; increased vulnerability to natural disasters, which has been aggravated by climate change; and the problem that has been highlighted in study after study – weak proficiency in basic skills such as reading, writing, numeracy and problem solving.

Filipino 15-year-olds have also scored low in creative thinking. As for health care, malnutrition and undernutrition have caused physical and mental stunting, which impairs early childhood learning. Vaccine hesitancy has also led to spikes in preventable childhood diseases such as measles. The World Bank report is just the latest reminder about the importance of investing heavily in early childhood development.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with