Skopje, 31 October 2018 (MIA) – Macedonia and countries of the Western Balkans should undertake reforms now towards development of the human capital, so that it reaches the global level and contributes to greater economic development. A EUR 30 million World Bank loan will help Macedonia implement a project for development of the country’s human capital.
The World Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy as the implementing partner signed the agreement on Wednesday.
The project was launched with conference “Fostering Economic Growth through Human Capital Development in the Western Balkans”, organized by the Finance Ministry and the World Bank.
“The agreement on child and social protection was signed on the 25-year anniversary of cooperation with the World Bank. We must protect children because they are our investment and capital for the future,” said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the opening remarks.
He said education must be reformed and offer quality curricula that would be used for enhancement of the potentials and talents of our children, who need to be prepared for entry at the labor market.
“The first steps have been made, the unnecessary external testing has been eliminated, the salaries of education employees have been increased by five percent and the law on elementary education has been drafted,” said Zaev.
He added that the Government is committed to equal opportunities for all, because every citizen matters.
“The goal we want to achieve is for the final effects from the implementation of economic policies to be felt by every citizen as benefit or right, ultimately reflected in the higher living standard. We believe that economically stable families and citizens represent a strong pillar in a society, who can further contribute to its growth and development,” stressed Zaev.
Cyril Muller, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, said the region requires human capital, because its future prosperity will depend on the capability to produce world-class human capital.
According to him, the current state of affairs in the Western Balkans shows that a child born today will reach the EU average by the time it turns 60.
“Countries need to act courageously to improve skills. Focus should be put on the quality of education and early child development,” said Muller.
He added that proper policies and robust implementation will guide the Western Balkans to real progress and bridging the gap to European standards.
Finance Minister Dragan Tevdovski said the World Bank has invested EUR 433 million in human capital development projects, adding they focus on skills and innovations, modernization of the education sector, reforms in secondary vocational education, school grants, construction and rehabilitation of schools and kindergartens.
He said policies should change, highlighting the lack of human capital investments in recent years.
“The priorities of this government are health, education and social affairs. These are the pillars of our society. I am convinced we should not see funds put in these sectors as cost. On the contrary, these are investments that will yield long-term benefits,” underlined Tevdovski.