Stuck in the middle ? human capital development and economic growth in Malaysia and Thailand
The challenge of sustaining economic growth over the long term is one that only a few countries have been able to surmount. Slowing momentum in countries like Malaysia and Thailand has led analysts and policy makers to consider what it would take to lift them out of middle-income status, where other countries have arguably become stuck. The paper examines the role of human capital formation in the quest to sustain economic growth in these two countries. It argues that a good education system is fundamental to equip workers with marketable skills. Malaysia and Thailand have successfully expanded access to schooling, but the quality of education remains an issue. Modern education systems should aim to provide universally-available quality education using the following policies: prioritize budgets to deliver quality and universally-available basic education before expanding higher levels of schooling; provide appropriate incentives and rewards to teachers; permit school autonomy and ensure accountability for results; invest in early childhood development; and consider implementing income-contingent loan financing schemes to expand higher education.
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