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Human Capital: Education a Catalyst for Development of The Gambia

Mar 24, 2016, 10:31 AM | Article By: Andrew Mendy London (United Kingdom)

Human capital refers to the value of a person’s education or training. Education is a fundamental ingredient in its own right; and is important for development. It is an indispensable means for ‘unlocking’ and protecting human, economic and social rights by providing the framework required to secure good health, security, and economic well-being, social and political participation which is crucial for the development of The Gambia. An increase in the literacy rate in The Gambia can aid development as economic growth appears to follow increased literacy. The World Bank and several United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reports find that spending in education is an effective tool for development.

To underline the beneficial effects of Human Capital in the development of The Gambia, a few points will be highlighted:

Firstly, it is important to point out that, without a skilled workforce, it will be difficult for The Gambia to achieve meaningful development. Hence, the acquisition of skills is valuable in its own right, as a fundamental outcome of development in The Gambia.

Building the human capital of the Gambia is a vital recipe for development of the country. Education has an important role in empowerment, thereby enhancing the enabling framework for poverty reduction. This is why it is important for the government and private sector to continue to invest in quality and affordable education for every child in The Gambia, male or female.

Furthermore, the government in partnership with the various stakeholders should ensure free or affordable and compulsory education for every child in The Gambia as this will help reduce the prevalence of child labour.

There are links between child labour and (lack of) education. Child workers also attend school, but education tends to suffer if children have to work for their family survival. The challenge for the government is to ensure child labour is eliminated and the children are where they should be; the classrooms and not the farms or the streets.

Education takes the burden of employment off the shoulders of the government as it improves the productivity in rural and urban self-employment because the people are equipped with the knowledge and skills to start their own ventures. The effect of this is that, it will help reduce unemployment. In addition, not only does it boost employment, education can also have the effect of lowering fertility rates and dietary improvements and help in the fight against diseases such as malaria.

Developing the human capital of The Gambia is important because a lack of educated workers could hold back development, but there may be little benefit for training more people if there are no jobs available.

Therefore, the government has to ensure that jobs are available for the school leavers. A lack of jobs after training people can result in ‘Diploma Disease’, i.e. the tendency for excessive qualifications to be required.

In order to successfully improve the human capital of The Gambia, the government have a key role to play. Mainstream economists recommend the government should ensure incentives are provided to encourage ‘appropriate’ education. For example, if education isn’t relevant to jobs, people are more likely to drop out early. In addition, the government should subsidise education, e.g. the provision of free schools for the poor children, provision of free school meals at nursery and primary level. This will be good for poor families as it can serve as an incentive to move out of child labour.

Furthermore, the government should reduce the discrimination in education against women and ethnic minorities and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity regardless of sex or ethnic background. Lastly, the government should ensure jobs for educated people in The Gambia.

Author: Andrew Mendy

London (United Kingdom)