BANGKOK, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers and senior officials on Monday discussed how to accelerate human capital development in the region by using policy investments and reforms.
Convening on "ASEAN High-Level Meeting on Human Capital Development" in Bangkok, the panel recognized high levels of economic growth which have substantially reduced poverty over the last 20 years.
However, education, skills development, and health indicators are on average below expectations given ASEAN's income levels, and there are wide disparities in life expectancy, job productivity, and education quality across the region, the panel said.
The panel also said that investments in its people, particularly children and young people, has remained a key challenge.
Organised by Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) and the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Bank and UNICEF, the High Level Meeting on Human Capital Development said in its press release that it aims to promote sharing of successful policy frameworks among ASEAN member states.
"Our region is committed to developing concrete actions to ensure that we have a future-ready and competitive workforce for the global digital economy," said Thosaporn Sirisamphand, the NESDC secretary general.
"It is a priority for us to design effective public policies and government programs that put people at the center of development."
According to the World Bank, children born in the ASEAN region today are expected to, on average, achieve about 59 percent of their full productivity potential compared to children born in areas with high performing education and health systems.
"Prioritising human capital development means putting people at the center of investments, policies, and programmes," said Mara Warwick, the World Bank country director for Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
"By working towards these goals, ASEAN countries can directly address gaps and provide a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for all its people."
At the meeting's conclusion, participating ASEAN ministers and officials agreed to enhance integrated policy investments in different sectors, including healthcare, quality education, life-long learning, and skills development, throughout a human life cycle.