World Bank president Jim Yong Kim at press briefing on Thursday (11/10) (ANTARA Foto/Wisnu Widiantoro)

Indonesian Children May Achieve Only Half Their Potential Productivity as Adults: WB Report


OCTOBER 11, 2018

Nusa Dua. Indonesian children may only reach half their potential productivity by the time their generation enters the workforce, highlighting a pressing need for the country to improve health care and education, the World Bank said in a report released on Thursday.

The inaugural Human Capital Index offers a new way to gauge how countries fare in enabling their citizens to reach their full potential. It assesses five simple-to-measure indicators, which scientific studies have shown to strongly correlate with a nation's productivity.

These are the probability of survival to age 5; expected years of schooling; test scores to measure the learning quality; healthy growth; and adult survival rate.

According to the report, Indonesia ranks 87th out of the 152 countries surveyed, giving it a score of 0.53 out of 1. That means the country's children would achieve 53 percent of the potential productivity their generation could have achieved if they benefited from good health and excellent education.

Indonesia outperformed its lower-middle-income peers, which have an average score of 0.48, but it is just below the global average and behind fellow Asia-Pacific countries, which scored an average of 0.62. Singapore tops the list at 0.88, while Malaysia, in 55th place, scored 0.63.

"If Indonesia is going to get ahead of this and put it on the table, the transformative approach [is by] improving human capital," World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said told a press briefing during the 2018 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Thursday.

"We have great faith in this particular administration and ... extremely encouraged that they are taking steps to invest in human capital," Kim said.

The most pressing issues that undermine the country's future productivity is stunting. While 97 percent of children in Indonesia will survive to the age of 5 – matching the global average – only 66 percent will grow up to be healthy, the report showed.

To address this issue, the government launched a $14.6 billion national strategy in August last year to accelerate stunting prevention that could benefit 48 million pregnant women and children under 2 years of age over the next four years.

"We realized that this is a long-term endeavor. In ensuring that a child can grow healthy, we must make sure that their mothers are also healthy and know how to raise a child in a healthy manner," said Suahasil Nazara, head of the fiscal policy office at the Ministry of Finance.

In terms of education, Indonesia was a mixed bag. Indonesian students are expected to spend 12.3 years in school – above the global average – but their harmonized test score assessment falls below their global peers.

In the adjusted years of schooling, which combines the test result and their years in school, Indonesian children only have a quality of learning equivalent to 7.9 years in school.

That is despite the country allocating 20 percent of its annual budget to education. This year, the budget is Rp 444 trillion ($29 billion), which is a 5.8 percent increase from last year.

"The concern right now, is that the outcomes are consonant with the amount of money [the government] is spending. So what we are working on right now in Indonesia is improving the outcomes from the education dollars they spend," Kim said.

A report by the Smeru Institute, a Jakarta-based think tank, indicates that most state spending on education goes toward teacher certification and school operations, which have little impact on student learning outcomes.