Thailand has performed better than the average for its income group in the new World Bank Human Capital Index.
Yet, it is still outperformed by three fellow Asean nations: Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia – largely due to weaknesses in the Kingdom’s education system.
Released on October 11, the index measures productivity of the next generation of workers relative to the benchmark of complete education and full health.
Topping the index is Singapore, which scored 0.88 out of the possible 1. Coming second and third are South Korea and Japan. Hong Kong is ranked 4th while Finland sits in 5th spot.
Thailand scored 0.6 and placed 65th among the 157 world territories.
The Human Capital Index measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18, given the risks of poor health and education that prevail in the country where the child lives.
“Thai children can expect to complete 12.4 years of school by age 18. However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 8.6 years, a learning gap of 3.8 years,” the World Bank calculated.
The index has used five indicators: the probability of survival to age five, a child’s expected years of schooling, harmonised test scores as a measure of the quality of learning, adult survival rate (the fraction of 15-year-olds that will survive to age 60), and the proportion of children who are not stunted.
Globally, 56 per cent of all children born today will grow up to be at best, half as productive as they could be; and 92 per cent will grow up to be, at best, 75 per cent as productive as they could be.
The index shows that children born in Thailand today will be 60 per cent as productive when they grow up as they could have been if they had enjoyed a complete education and full health.
“This is below the average for East Asia and Pacific region,” the World Bank noted.
Thailand’s performance marginally improved over last year, with its score rising from 0.58 in 2017 to 0.60.
“Thailand has made great progress in expanding basic education and the rate of child stunting is low as a consequence of earlier government efforts,” said Mara K Warwick, World Bank country director for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “However, greater emphasis on learning is needed to further equip a child born today with the skills and knowledge to be a productive citizen of the future.
“The Government of Thailand recognises this and is working with the World Bank to improve the efficiency of education expenditure in order to boost quality and reduce the inequity in educational resource allocation.”
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said human capital was a key driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth, but investing in health and education has not received the attention it deserves.
“The Human Capital Index creates a direct line between improving outcomes in health and education, productivity and economic growth. I hope that it drives countries to take urgent action and invest more – and more effectively – in their people,” he added.