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Dr Benard Ndep Etta

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21st century concept of human development
by Dr Benard Ndep Etta   

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Human development in the 21st century has to be defined differently from that of the 20th century. In the 20th century, human development was define in terms of human activities, infrastructural development and social projects,etc.This perspective of human development made mankind more dependent on external factors than on our innate powers to shape and influence the above. This old perspective also affected education, as mankind settle for an educational approach which was more reactive than proactive, with greater focus on achieving external breakthroughs with little internal breakthroughs which could empower mankind to properly manage the earth and the world with all external factors put together. In the 21st century, human development is define as the progressive development of humans in their understanding, consciousness and awareness to life challenges, privileges and responsibilities in relation to the progressive nature of time. This places the focus more on the development of the human being who then becomes the architect of his destiny by his development, politically, socially intellectually, economically, etc. Human development must be dynamic, in relation to the dynamic nature of time and its peculiarities.

 Human development is the progressive development of humans in understanding, consciousness and awareness to life’s challenges, privileges and responsibilities in relation to the progressive nature of time. It equally involves the cultivation, activation and edification of human potential for maximum productivity.

The concept of human development stemmed from the understanding that ‘Every human is born to the world in a state of ignorance and undeveloped potential’. This situation makes human development expedient and crucial as far as human operation, productivity and impact is concerned.


            We are in the first decade of the 21st century and according to the law of every day’s provision “Every generation has its revelation in relation to the peculiarity of each millennium”, the concept of human development should take a new turn in this century.

      Humanity has always encountered untold misery each time she fails to progress with time.  Each time demands for its own civilisation and thus, humanity must advance in the understanding of the concept of human development in order to match up with the challenges of the 21st century.

      According to the law of progress “Every aspect of life has a progressive dimension with each phase of progress relative to time. The 21st century has come with a demand for human advancement with respect to the concept of human development.

      Anytime humanity becomes stagnant in her understanding, decay becomes the natural outcome on personal, national and international machineries.

      It is expedient for humanity to make advancement in understanding, consciousness and awareness to the importance of human development. Human development is imperative to human advancement in virtually every area. For all that man can become and all that man’s life can offer is equal to human development(the development of the human being). This equally applies to organizations, groups, nations and societies.

      Human development is the determining factor to all human advancement and impact. No individual can operate beyond his/her level of human development. No organization, nation or society can operate beyond the level of her human development. Human development sets the difference between a failure and a success, a poor nation and a great nation, a developed society and a less developed society.

      For an individual or nation to affect her level of growth and progress, such must advance in her human capital development. Human development has four dimensions,

Mental development

Physical development

Spiritual development

Social development

These dimensions of human development have an effect on the operation, productivity and impact of an individual, society or nation. For an individual, society or nation to reach the maximum of her productivity, she must pursue human development in its full dimension.




      Every human is born to the world in a state of ignorance and undeveloped potential. This state makes it completely impossible for an individual to operate in his best, without full human development. This explains why millions come to the world with only few involved in meaningful living which could leave rich legacies, footprints on the sands of time for generations to come.

The world is full of too many people who are busy but doing nothing, running but going no where, dancing when there is no music, because of their underdevelopment. The only cure to this dilemma is increase in human development personnel and institutions to help raise the awareness and consciousness of individuals, nations and societies with respect to human development.

Every individual is an independent world of things which eyes have not seen nor ears heard, books which have not been written, songs which have not been sung, schools which no one has ever established, ideas no one has ever exhibited, inventions, innovations, discoveries and creations no one has ever produced.

It is unfortunate that, though each individual is loaded with so much which can't be completely dispensed in time except in eternity, many live very unproductive lives, struggling on the wings of other people’s ideas without ever tapping from the rich treasure of potential which lies within them because of ignorance.

There is too much of human traffic in virtually every area of life as millions strive to compete with others, imitate or fit where everyone is, instead of expressing their unique potential for maximum productivity and impact.

In most societies, the civil service is full of individuals seeking for government support and millions seeking for jobs instead of creating their own worlds. The world is cursed with increase in human frustration in this dispensation than any other, because out of the 6.2 billion people in the world, not up to one percent are producers. Billions of individuals live as liabilities, looking for whose idea will shelter them. Many complain of limited opportunities when there is too much which has not yet been exploited.

The solution to this dilemma is the development of each individual. When an individual is properly developed he is at the mercy of nobody.

When an individual is developed mentally, physically, spiritually and socially, such will become highly productive contributing immensely to the progress of humanity. The reverse is true for an undeveloped individual who lives as a liability depending on the ideas of others.

In most developing societies there is little or no human development. This has led to high dependency on the developed societies, though in the 21st century, it seems that, the developed societies are fast becoming undeveloped as they too are experiencing similar challenges experienced by developing nations.          Unemployment rates are now on the rise in most developed societies. Dissatisfaction with living conditions, crimes and social mishaps, etc are equally top challenges. This is so because, 80% of those born in most developed nations are struggling to ride on the successes of their parents instead of creating their own success.

In the USA and Europe for instance, the young generation is caught up in useless pleasure, drug, pornography, homosexuality, gambling, drunkenness and all forms of prostitutions, rather than in developing their potential for improvement in their time. With this situation, 50 years from now, Europe and the USA may suffer a serious decline if nothing is done to stem the tide of irresponsibility sweeping across these societies.

When a society is made up of developed individuals, there will be more independent thinkers than job seekers. This is the breakthrough most societies need right now.  Individual development favors individual productivity and impact on humanity. The absence of human development results to a situation of increase in population without a corresponding increase in productivity.



Human development is the trigger and will remain the trigger to every positive revolution. The breakthroughs of all times are all indebted to human development. Every level humanity attains in an era is equal to the advancement in human development. The ideas, inventions, innovations, discoveries and creations which marked the 19th and 20th centuries were all products of human development. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, societies which made advancement in human development became those with positive breakthroughs in diverse domains, while those with little advancement in human development became societies marked with poverty and underdevelopment. The drama of the 21st century will be orchestrated by the advancement in human understanding with respect to human development.
Human development is the key which will unlock the destinies of individuals, nations and societies in the 21st century.

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