Importance of education and human capital in the economic development of a Country

Martin Mapfumo

A country should not only pursue physical capital that is infrastructure development but a combination with human capital will drastically increase a country’s competitiveness in this changing world filled with volatility, ambiguity and uncertainty, one in which economies need ever-increasing amounts of talent to sustain growth.

Investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills helps develop human capital, and is a key to ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies.

Human capital refers to the economic value of a worker’s experience and skills. It also includes assets like education, training, intelligence, skills, health, and other things employers value such as loyalty and punctuality.

There is a strong relationship between human capital and economic growth, which is why it can help boost the economy. That's because people come with a diverse set of skills and knowledge. This relationship can be measured by how much investment goes into people’s education. Some governments recognize that this relationship between human capital and the economy exists, and so they provide higher education at little or no cost. People with higher education who participate in the workforce will often have larger salaries, which means they can spend more.

Education is a key asset of human capital as it is a critical driver of innovation and creativity. It provides individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to develop new ideas and technologies. Education also fosters a culture of innovation by promoting creativity and critical thinking.

Zimbabwe moved away from education 3.0 made up of three core areas teaching, research and outreach, which was inherited from the colonial system  in contrast, the New Dispensation created a new Heritage Based Education 5.0 Model, which ensures job creation, production of goods and services, while focusing on five pillars which are research, teaching, community service, innovation and industrialisation.

As Muzira and Bonsai (2020) state that Education 5.0 was introduced to match the Zimbabwean education curriculum to its culture as well as the country’s developmental needs.

Heritage refers to the natural endowments of Zimbabwe; flora, fauna, water, minerals and human resources. The world over, countries have developed and sustained important economic growth using heritage based philosophy to national development. For example, Mauritius has the heritage of the oceans and has developed its economy on marine heritage; Saudi Arabia has a heritage of oil and has developed its economy around the oil heritage; Germany’s growth was based on coal as it was locally available. A country needs to use what it has. In Zimbabwe agriculture, mining, and a rich history can develop the nation.

For Heritage Based Education 5.0 to be successful, the policy laid down procedures for it’s proper implementation include program infrastructure, promotion infrastructure, physical infrastructure and financing infrastructure. The skills should be developed within Education 5.0, therefore the learner must be trained and empowered to meet national needs as spelt out in the national skills audit and within the model of the Zimbabwean heritage.

Investing in quality teachers would be critical for providing students with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life and better implementation Education 5.0. Quality teachers can also inspire and motivate students to achieve their full potential.

Resources need to be mobilised continuously as the inadequate infrastructure remains a critical challenge to the country’s education sector. Schools in rural areas are being built but they need to be resourced with the current modern equipment, so that the pupils in these areas are not left behind but are also equipped with the right information and knowledge. This is all part of growing human capital, while realising an upper-middle income economy for the country.

Human capital has a crucial role in moulding a country’s economy. Employers prefer and look out for a workforce with decent human capital. Thus, having stable human capital can mould one’s job career and solve the problem of unemployment.

Education is important as it can be inspirational to the youth as it provides them with new visions, perspectives, and hopes for a progressive society. Thoughts and visions of youths can be effectively moulded with the help of education.

An educated society always stays ahead and is more progressive than a society with low quality of education and educational standards. Furthermore, it helps in raising the standard of the human capital of a country. This in turn increases the national income of a country and enhances government functionaries. Education also provides the opportunity to enhance the cultural richness.

The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) period spells out the Government’s vision of Education 5.0, which is to equip graduates with skills that empower them to become innovative towards societal development through science and technology application that delivers goods and services. Innovation will bridge the gap between knowledge produced in lecture rooms, laboratory and industry production.