Government has been urged to invest more in its people starting at an early age and pay more attention to issues affecting their health, education and critical groups such as the youth, elderly and persons with disabilities if it is to achieve meaningful and sustainable inclusive growth.
Speaking at Serena Hotel yesterday Thursday July 18, 2019 during the inaugural United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and National Planning Authority (NPA) breakfast policy series to inform the formulation of the third national development plan, participants from UN agencies, government, the academia, civil society organizations and the private sector also thanked government for integrating human capital development as a fundamental investment area in the new plan.
By articulating human capital development in objective three of the NDPIII strategic direction, UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah said; “Government of Uganda demonstrates acknowledgement that investing in people is not only critical, but necessary to ensure sustained inclusive growth.”
On his part, Dr. Joseph Muvawala, the Executive Director of National Planning Authority, called for the equipping of Uganda’s “abundant labour with globally competitive skills, relevant knowledge, good health and positive attitudes.” Dr Muvawala was represented by Dr. Hamis Mugendawala, a senior education planner at NPA.
The Uganda Vision 2040 identifies Uganda’s young labour force as one of the opportunities that Uganda has to utilize to harness growth.
Other speakers called for increased investments in early childhood development, skilling the labour force, reducing the population living in poor health, increasing the proportion of the population accessing social protection, adequately managing the population growth and structure and adoption of appropriate technology in the production of goods and services.
Supporting a case for reducing the population of people living with poor health, Dr. Karusa Kiragu, the UNAIDS Uganda Country Director, called for sustainable funding for HIV/AIDS response which is presently donor-dependent.
“We need to pay attention to the silent epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Presently, about 90% of the treatment is paid for by donors, which is not sustainable in the wake of continued infections,” Kiragu observed.
Education has been identified as a key foundation for human capital development. Ms. Diana Sekaggya Bagarukayo, Education Specialist at the World Bank, observed that Uganda needs to increase the 10% it currently spends on education annually to improve learning, enrollment and completion rates. In comparison, she said, other Sub-Saharan countries spend 16% of their budget on education.
Prof. Juma Waswa Balunywa, Principal of Makerere University Business School, warned that the job market demands are changing very fast hence the need for a forecast of jobs and skills that will be relevant for the future and ensuring that the education curriculum and learning institutions are training for that.
While Uganda has made significant progress in all dimensions of human development during the past three decades, progress is slowing down recently. To mention but a few, Uganda’s Human Development Index rose by less than three percent, compared to the era of the Poverty Eradication Action Plans (PEAP), when it averaged 12 percent.
An initiative of UNDP and NPA, the purpose of NDPIII breakfast policy series is to provide a multi-stakeholder platform to deliberate and build consensus around the strategic issues relevant to the NDPIII formulation process.
The inaugural consultation has been held under the theme, “Investing in human capital for shared prosperity in Uganda.”
Four other NDPIII breakfast policy consultation series are being planned and will focus on high-impact strategic reforms/ interventions in the areas of; value addition and inclusive growth, good governance, mainstreaming cross-cutting issues and financing and development cooperation.
According to Prof. Pamela Mbabazi, the NPA Board Chairperson, each meeting will be shaped by an issue note articulating the relevant programme issues and high-impact strategic interventions, and an outcome document to be submitted to NPA for consideration.