Mak­ing the case for Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment through In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment and Eco­nomic Growth – the case of CPEC

The Diplomatic Insight - - Special Supplement on China Pakistan Economic Corr - On June 23rd 2015, a let­ter was writ­ten

Eco­nomic Growth can only be fu­eled by hu­man re­sources en­abled by op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing, tech­ni­cal skills, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­ac­tional tech­nolo­gies. The China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) com­pris­ing al­most 3000 (2,700)- kilome­ter high­way stretch­ing from Kash­gar to Gwadar is a gi­gan­tic mile­stone for Pak­istan . The pro­ject is an im­pres­sive col­lab­o­ra­tion for China and Pak­istan but es­pe­cially for the lat­ter where it will be a game changer for hu­man de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic growth. Ex­tend­ing from the Karako­ram High­way that links China’s Prov­ince of Xin­jiang with Pak­istan’s north re­gion, the in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject will be build­ing eco­nomic zones along the cor­ri­dor. CPEC will stretch across all 5 provinces bring­ing a con­ser­va­tive in­vest­ment of USD 45 bil­lion over the next 15 years. It will also es­tab­lish en­ergy and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture lay­ing the foun­da­tion for an unimag­in­able sup­ply chain, nu­mer­ous in­dus­try and ser­vices clus­ters and small cities. But none of this can be sus­tained with­out giv­ing ad­e­quate at­ten­tion to education, tech­ni­cal vo­ca­tional and liveli­hoods skills and a high de­gree of en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship and civic re­spon­si­bil­ity. The over­lap­ping of in­dus­try clus­ters with so­cial cap­i­tal clus­ters is a unique op­por­tu­nity that Pak­istan can­not af­ford to miss and it will not too! The syn­er­gies are ob­vi­ous as are the div­i­dends. of CPEC and more will emerge as the re­search on var­i­ous di­men­sions deep­ens. The pur­pose of this note is to high­light that the govern­ment of Pak­istan (Fed­eral and Pro­vin­cial) must ex­po­nen­tially fo­cus on all dis­tricts along the cor­ri­dor in gen­eral and those which have poor in­di­ca­tors in par­tic­u­lar. The cur­rent 19 dis­tricts of the CPEC from Gil­git Baltistan to Sindh is an im­pres­sive list in­deed. Hunza-Na­gar- Di­amer (3 dis­tricts Gil­git Baltistan); Ko­his­tan, Batta­gram, Mansehra, Ab­b­otabad and Haripur – (5 dis­tricts Khy­ber Pakhtoon­istan) ; Attock, Mian­wali, Sar­godha, Layyah, D.G.Khan and Ra­jan­pur (6 dis­tricts Pun­jab); Dera Bugti, Khuz­dar, Pun­gur, Gwadar (4 dis­tricts Balochis­tan) and Ja­cob­a­bad(1 district Sindh). Of th­ese 19 dis­tricts, al­most 11 have en­rol­ments less than 80% and learn­ing lev­els below 50% of grade 5 chil­dren tested for grade 2 level com­pe­ten­cies with ma­jor gen­der gaps! Th­ese girls and boys will be the hu­man cap­i­tal for CPEC, clearly un­able to match with the as­pi­ra­tions of the “eco­nomic cor­ri­dor”. It is im­per­a­tive to upgrade the hu­man re­sources, fa­cil­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties for their de­vel­op­ment through a dy­namic 5 year CPEC district education plan (DEP) for each of the 19 dis­tricts span­ning pro­grams for age groups from 2 years to 40 years of age in hard and soft skills, an age group com­pris­ing 75% of our pop­u­la­tion. Th­ese dis­tricts are our in­valu­able na­tional as­set, but re­main con­strained by ma­jor chal­lenges of health, nutri­tion, poverty, de­cent jobs, en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change. Th­ese mul­ti­ple fault lines can be ad­dressed com­pre­hen­sively, at­tract­ing pub­lic and other de­vel­op­ment part­ners. Such an ap­proach presents an op­por­tu­nity Pak­istan, com­bin­ing cross-sec­toral pool­ing of re­sources for in­fra­struc­ture, ser­vices, health, education and skills (hard and soft).

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