Opening Remarks by President Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles at the ceremony to acknowledge Seychelles’ position in the World Bank Human Capital Index, State House, 12th October 2018
12 October 2018 | State House
Secretaries of State
Chief Executive Officers
Members of the Press
A very good morning to you all.
As humans, we all want to do better for ourselves. Improve our quality of life and be happier with ourselves. When we have children, we want to do what is best for our families. We invest in the education and health of our children, we make sure they do well at school, that they stay on the right path. We trust that with good education, good upbringing and good health, they will go on to fulfil their potential.
As a head of Government, the desire is the same, just at a much larger level. To want what is best for the nation, for all of our families. Invest in the education of our youth, and invest in the health of our nation. So that we progress.
So that each generation can look at the younger one and be happy and proud that they have done better.
But how do we know how well we are doing?
We all have very high standards, and very often we are competing with one another. Our progress is one thing, but if our neighbour does better – then our progress does not feel as great. If we set our expectations too high, then despite progress, we may feel we have done poorly.
To keep our objectivity, to see how well we are doing at a country level, and to see how well we should expect to be doing given our resources, the World Bank has developed a new way of assessing countries. This is called the Human Capital Index.
It is the first time the World Bank is publishing this Index, and was published yesterday.
This index takes a look at countries and sees whether the country makes available the conditions that will allow its families to flourish. Do the children born in a country have a good opportunity of succeeding and of meeting their full potential?
The Human Capital Index sets out to measure just that.
By looking at health, education and adult survival rates, it assesses the likelihood that a child born in a country will live to realise their full potential.
Whether they will live long enough to reach the potential that they would have reached if they had complete education and full health.
Whilst most indices take a look at what a country HAS achieved, this index compares what the country DOES achieve to what it COULD have achieved.
It is a very interesting index!
And it is with great pride that I announce that Seychelles has come out 43rd of 157 countries.
We are first in the region and first in Africa. The next African country is in 52nd place.
Directly above us are Greece and Luxembourg.
Directly behind us Bulgaria and the highly revered Chile in South America.
Our score of 68% means that for the 4 babies who were born yesterday at the Seychelles Hospital, they each have a 68% chance of reaching their full potential as an adult.
And we can make this statement without knowing the income of their parents. Without knowing the marital status of the parents. Without knowing anything else, there is a 68% chance that they will reach their full potential.
In Singapore, the country which came out first on this index, this figure is 88%.
In the United States, a child has a 76% chance of hitting their full potential.
In the Seychelles, this is 68%.
Compatriots, we should be proud of this figure! It outlines the progress that we have made as a nation.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that our score is higher than would be expected given our income level. We are outperforming countries who have a similar income levels.
This highlights something. This highlights the fact that we have not made this much progress by chance.
A tiny group of islands, thousands of kilometres from the nearest continent, with less than a hundred thousand people. Today, we are 43rd in terms of the chances that we give our new-borns to succeed in life. This has been a long journey.
A journey of hard work by our citizens.
A journey of us working together.
And a journey of a Government committed to people-centred development and the policies that are required to see it through. Over the years, we have remained loyal to the principles of free education and free healthcare. We have used the beauty of our islands to foster a vibrant tourism sector which is the source of a large portion of the taxes which funds these policies. Our social safety net ensures that even for those who are jobless, their children need not go hungry, their children can still get access to school and a free meal.
Government is a lot more than those three policies of free education, free healthcare, and a social safety net.
It is in the policies creating a health system that aside from being free is at the standard required to ensure that 99% of our children live to see their fifth birthday.
It is in the policies that ensure that children are growing up in a household that can feed and care for them so well that 92% are not stunted – comfortably in the top quartile of the countries in the World.
It is in the policies that ensure that not only do students attend school, but they do so for approximately 13.7 years before their 18th birthday – comfortably in the top quartile of the countries in the World.
It is in the policies that ensure that the children not only sit in a classroom, but attain learning outcomes in almost in line with the top quartile of countries in the World.
It is the policies which foster of an environment in which the private sector continues to flourish.
It is in the policies that create an environment which pushes us to do ever better amidst an ever-changing world with significant uncertainty.
I could keep going on and on.
Brothers and Sisters, we are making constant progress. 5 years ago, in 2012, if the Human Capital Index had existed and were being published – we would have scored 59%. This is the same score as Iran, Colombia and Peru today. In the past five years, we have made significant progress to get us to 68%.
In fact, the World Bank has confirmed that Seychelles is the country that has made the MOST progress in the last 5 years. In the whole world. Seychelles, through our policies, through the hard work of our citizens, through our continued commitment to working together, have made more progress than any other country in the world over the past five years.
Let us stay on this course. Let us keep working hard. Let us keep progressing.
We have not reached the end yet. With the right policies, we can make even more progress.
But for today, let us take a few minutes to appreciate the progress we have made. Acknowledge the continued investment that we make in our population.
Let it inspire us to keep pushing and to keep progressing.
I am extremely proud of us.