Harnessing Human Capital for Development

Young Couple with Two Children (8-12) Walking on the BeachOn my way home from work I passed by a series of dirty, run-down houses commonly known in the Philippines as a “squatter’s area.” Having lived a couple of blocks away from this neighborhood all my life, I don’t share the surprised looks or sympathetic remarks most first time passers-by give upon the depressing sight. Personally, I find these informal settlers have co-mingled well with people of different classes in our neighborhood—what with their shanties juxtaposed along affluent residences with high walls. But that day was surprisingly different. Since I took my Track A Training that morning, I looked at this neighborhood in a different light. I caught sight of a family of seven awfully crammed in a space half the size of my room. Children were out playing in the street where cars dangerously passed by. I reflected on the state of these people’s lives and how poverty and large families affect our country on a bigger picture.

According to a local newspaper, the Philippines will hit an estimated 97 million on its population by the end of the year. With a growth rate of at least 1.8 million annually, many experts and leaders have expressed their concerns regarding the matter and its negative repercussions. Extensive talks and debates about radical population control are being passed around as the foremost solution for the seemingly insurmountable problem. As it is, people in general equate a big populace as an indication of an underdeveloped nation.

However, I believe that population control and its other underlying facets (i.e. abortion) is not the key to a country’s economic growth or development as a whole. What we need are concrete plans to take advantage of the human capital that we have. We should not, as some expert’s state, look at humans as mouths to feed, but instead look for solutions to make them a nation’s asset.

In the Philippines, about a quarter of the citizens reside in the greater urban area. They do so in the hopes of making a good living, but lack of job and education hinder their growth in many aspects they end up living is someone else’s land—thus the proliferation of slums.

The State should ensure that all individuals are given opportunity to make the most of their potential. They should push for programs wherein the human person is the central subject for development. Realistic solutions such as creating high quality jobs with decent wages should be top priority. Simultaneously, the individual must look for ways to contribute to society at the best of his ability and should not rest his fate on the government alone.

Before adopting drastic measures to cut down human population, isn’t it better to direct our energies into finding ways to make use of what we have (our people)?

By: Theresa Flores, an intern at WYA Asian Pacific