World Bank: Maldives faces human capital challenges due to poor quality of education

Children fly kites in the Usfasgandu area of Male' City on April 23, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The poor quality of education in the Maldives poses a serious human capital challenge to the country, says the World Bank.

The World Bank released its Human Capital Review (HCR) report for the Maldives on Tuesday.

The global financial institute found in its review that Maldives has important human capital challenges to address, which reveal high levels of inequalities across geography and gender, to fulfil its full potential.

According to the report, a Maldivian child can expect to complete 12.4 years of schooling, but only 8.17 years of learning, implying a loss of 4.32 years due to poor quality of education.

“This loss is higher than the average of upper-middle-income countries (UMICs) and small island states,” reads the report.

The review also found that a current levels of human capital, the Maldives loses 23 percent of its future productivity when they reach the labor market.

The World Bank cited low employment rates, especially among women, as a key contributing factor, reflecting the barriers and challenges that women face in the labor market.

The global institute also found there are significant spatial inequalities in human capital outcomes.

The review found that a child born in Male’, the capital city, can expect to achieve 64 percent of their full potential by age 18, while a child born in the central region can expect to achieve only 54 percent.

All regions other than Male’ have a Human Capital Index (HCI) score - a metric that captures the health and education outcomes of a country’s population - lower than the national average.

The World Bank found that the challenges are compounded by country-wide structural risks such as climate change, which poses a compounding and existential threat.

“The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on tourism, making the country highly vulnerable to shocks, with implications for human development progress. Climate change also affects the health and well-being of the population, especially poor and marginalized groups, who have less access to resources and services to cope with the impacts,” reads the report.

The World Bank made five key policy recommendations in its report:

  • Address geographic disparities in access to education: Improve connectivity and accessibility of remote regions, and ensure equitable allocation and utilization of resources across regions. Expand access to early childhood education and tertiary education, especially for girls and women, and provide more opportunities for lifelong learning and skills development.
  • Focus on improving the quality of education for all: Strengthen the curriculum, assessment, and teacher training systems, and ensure education system is relevant and responsive to the needs of the labor market and the society. Promote innovation and technology in education, and foster a culture of learning and excellence among students and teachers.
  • Tackle the relatively high levels of stunting: Scale up interventions to prevent and treat child stunting, and improve the delivery and financing of health services. Enhance the health and nutrition status of the population, especially the pregnant and lactating women, and the children under 5. Address social and environmental determinants of health, such as poverty, sanitation, and pollution.
  • Promote better employment outcomes for Maldivian women: Remove barriers to female employment, such as legal, cultural, and institutional constraints, and promote gender equality and social inclusion. Support women’s entrepreneurship and skills development, and provide more flexible and conducive work arrangements for women. Enhance the social protection system to cover women and other vulnerable groups, and providing more childcare and elderly care services.
  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of social sector spending: Improve governance and accountability of social sector institutions, and enhance monitoring and evaluation of human capital programs and policies.