Human element: The alpha and omega of development

Articles - General

It has become a song of experts that the interplay of education, training and human capital would guarantee development. We can say that the formula of development has been known by developed and developing societies as well.

The variance arises in the practical application of the formula and the courage to take the tough and correct path. Many developing countries that failed to choose the tough and correct path of development are still living under hardships and their expectations of independence have remained a dream. This state of affairs can be summarized into lack of bravery to take initiative and inability to design policy that reflects the reality on the ground. Lack of confidence in internal capability and over reliance on external expertise closed all the gates of incentives and initiatives.

Eritrea, one of the youngest countries in the community of independent nations, has already prepared the ground and laid all the necessary foundation for development. The troubling and unanswered question of illiteracy and illness that limited Africa’s growth has long been solved in Eritrea. After independence the newly formed government revised the education system and introduced national educational policy based on the use of mother languages and planted public schools throughout the country. The importance of the human element was recognized early on during the liberation struggle. The government has been channeling as many resources as possible into human development. In Eritrea, education is a basic right for every citizen. The national charter of Eritrea states that education is the foundation of development and to provide equal educational opportunity means to provide equal opportunity for development. Now Eritreans of all ages are able to acquire education and they become productive, effective and creative forces of development. The government has long recognized education as an eye opener, enabler and equalizer.

The ideals of Eritrea including national unity, active public participation, social justice and self-reliance are translated into reality and have become a common practice of the nation. Eritrea’s most valuable asset is its people. Education stands above other means of social empowerment in the human resource development strategy of Eritrea.

As in the past, the human resource of the country can have decisive role in developing and transforming the overall development of Eritrea. The hard found peace provides the population additional incentives to facilitate the developmental aspirations of the country.

The human resource development provides the framework for helping employees develop their personal and organizational skills, knowledge and capabilities. Richard Swanson has defined it as “a process for developing and unleashing human expertise through training and development and organization development for the purpose of improving performance.” Thus, it is the process of value addition to individuals, teams or organizations. Therefore, the impact of education and training on human resource development and in opening up new opportunities is beyond imagination.

Education has been identified by the government of Eritrea as a key strategy for the country’s development. Apart from building schools all over the country and make education accessible, efforts of considerable measure have been made to reform the education system. Besides the formal education, all ministries engage in giving in-house training to their staff. Military and civilian institutions are working hard to engage their members in the process of acquiring new knowledge and expertise.

Education and training hold a central place in human resource development. If human resource development is the center of national development, then education must be made relevant to the national demand. There exists a balance between general education and skill-based vocational training but all work to provide competent work force. Toward that end, alongside the expansion of higher education, equal attention has been paid to the development of vocational education. Hitherto the government has opened vocational centers in Adi Halo, Asmara, Dekemhare, Hagaz, Mai Habar, Nakfa and Sawa.

The human element holds a central position in Eritrea’s development strategy. The decisive role of the human factor is one of the six basic principles outlined in the national charter of Eritrea that serves as guideline for the activities of the country. In the same document we find that “in building an economy the most decisive factor is human resources, not natural or capital resources, or foreign aid and investments.” To achieve the national development goals, Eritrea needs all kinds of resources, but none competes with the human resource. While optimizing the utilization of its resources, the government focuses on human resources and on empowering the people. Educational institutions and training centers of the country are working toward zero wastage and produce a ready and willing workforce. If human beings reach their highest potential, they can work miracles even with small resources.

In terms of human resource development, Eritrea can be considered a model and success story in Africa. The higher investment in human capital saved the country from over reliance on foreign assistance for survival. The success of Eritrea depends heavily on the development of human resource and managerial excellence. To attain the desired economic growth, Eritrea should continue to invest heavily on upgrading its manpower skills.

Discipline is amongst the highest performance indicators of human development resource. Education should contribute to economic growth through imparting positive attitudes and discipline necessary for a variety of workplaces.

No nation can exist and prosper without discipline. It is discipline that regulates the social, economic and political life of a society. Fortunately, the Eritrean society is honest and law-abiding, making the effort to instill discipline trough formal education less daunting.

Acquiring the competence necessary to meet current and future work requirements is not an easy task. For this reason, Eritrea has been investing a large portion of its budget on education and training. For Eritrea the alpha and omega of any development is the human element. The Government of Eritrea views education as a wheel for economic growth and poverty reduction. The delivery of education must be supported by strong institutional capacity to raise the efficiency and productivity of the working community. To contribute significantly to economic prosperity and development, education must be of high quality and meet the skill-demand of the economy.