The World Bank released it’s first Human Capital Index (HCI) on the 11th.
Our government was quick to reject the findings – presumably, in respect of the comments on India*.
The headline finding – “A child born in India today will be 44 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.”
But we already know much of this – for example, that we have more stunted children than all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Part of the motivation for the Swacch Bharat exercise came from the research regarding stunted chidren – the insight being that fecal-borne diseases led to stunted growth, rather than food shortage. Sanitation would be a key contributor to children achieving their full growth potential.
Rejecting the World Bank findings does nothing to improve the lot of these children.
Our government’s reaction to the HCI report mirrors the reaction of an earlier regime to our participation in the bi-annual PISA rating on education in 2009. The report showed our students at the bottom of the charts – we did beat Kyrgyzistan, though**. Lant Pritchett said, “The PISA 2009+ results, which are both official and are beyond gain-saying, are unspeakably bad.” Our bureaucrats and politicians muttered some stuff about the tests being inappropriately designed, and withdrew in a sulk.
But again, we already know how dysfunctional our school system is. The home-grown ASER tests have measured learning levels for over a decade now, and tell us that less than half our 5th grade children can read a 2nd grade text; less than half of 8th grade children can do a simple division. The 2016 ASER report underlined that “this situation has remained unchanged since 2009, when the Right to Education, or RTE, Act was passed by Parliament.”
Dismissing a report just because it was Not Made Here helps no one – it shows a deep-seated inferiority and refusal to deal with reality.