The Index covers five countries from the South Asia region: Sri Lanka (70), Nepal (98), India (103), Bangladesh (111) and Pakistan (125). The overall average score for the region is 54.10—behind the Middle East and North Africa and ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa—and all but the region’s top-ranked country have yet to reach the 60% threshold with regard to developing their human capital.
The bright spot for the region, Sri Lanka (70), benefits from strong educational enrolment rates as well as comparatively positive perceptions of the quality of its primary schools and education system overall, essential elements for building the nation’s future human capital. However, it underperforms when it comes to translating the potential of its young generation to the workplace, with more than one in five 15–24 year-olds currently unemployed.
India (103) ranks at the top of the bottom quartile of the Index. Although the country’s current educational attainment rate has improved markedly over past generations, its youth literacy rate is still only 89%, well behind the rates of other leading emerging markets as well as the lower-middle income group’s average. India also ranks poorly on labour force participation, due in part to one of the world’s largest employment gender gaps. More positively, it receives solid rankings on education quality, staff training and economic complexity—suggesting that a primary avenue for realizing a greater share of the nation’s human capital potential consists in creating a virtuous cycle by increasing inclusivity and expanding access to its numerous learning and employment opportunities.
The human capital potential of the region’s two other most populous countries—Bangladesh (111) and Pakistan (125)—is held back by insufficient educational enrolment rates and poor-quality primary schools. Both countries’ educational performance is somewhat better at the tertiary level, despite rather low levels of skill diversity among their university graduates, indicating a strong specialization in a limited number of academic subjects. Both also exhibit significant employment gender gaps.