We are an increasingly illiterate nation – UNICEF estimates that 13.2 million Nigerian children were out of school in 2015, up from 10.5 in 2010. Even those who are in school have little hope of receiving quality education, with only 0.5% of national GDP allocated to education. While economic growth will be impacted by this, it will not measure it. An HDI-focus will track, but not address it.
My reasoning rests on the strategic logic of starting with the end in mind, and I will give you a non-statistical, non-clinical, though no less valid insight into my leaning on this. I grew up in a world where parents considered their children an investment, and made financial sacrifices for the child as well as the parents’ future. Parents, sometimes communities, ensured that children were fed, healthy, and went to school, often at great personal cost, in the belief that those opportunities would afford the child an opportunity build a better life for himself, and that the fruit of that improved future would be shared by the collective.
Oftentimes, there were trade-offs between children, on the basis of aptitude, or attitude, or both. Sometimes it was gender, but the basis and fairness of trade-offs notwithstanding, they were made. The result was that the poor birthed the rich, and many of the successful people we celebrate today can speak of “humble beginnings”. Between the knowledge of want, and a refusal to go back to it, and the sense of responsibility imbued by the sacrificers, the motivation to succeed was not in short supply. “From those to whom much is given, much is expected”, so goes the adage, and in order to give, parents went without; they borrowed, they nurtured a sense of responsibility.
I believe that a developing nation, particularly one plagued as we are with these many evils, must take the same view. That its leaders must, as custodians of citizens, prioritize the development of people, and do so with an investment mentality.
I believe that by first planning for it citizens, a nation puts itself in a position to understand what its actual financial requirements are (for those of you who are commercially inclined, we can call it a target/budget), and can then set economic growth goals and unpack the strategies by which to achieve them.