The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established in 1945 with the mission to contribute to building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The broad goals and concrete objectives of the international community – as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – underpin all of UNESCO’s strategies and activities.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is the statistical office of UNESCO and the United Nations depository for global statistics in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, and communication. It was created in 1999 to meet the growing demand for timely, accurate and reliable statistics needed by UNESCO Member States and the international community. It is the official source of data for monitoring Education for All (EFA) and the education-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals. UIS data also feature in a wide range of international reports, such as the EFA Global Monitoring Report, the World Development Indicators, the Human Development Report and the State of the World’s Children.
The Institute’s main activities are to:
- collect and disseminate up-to-date, policy-relevant statistics in different user-friendly formats in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, and communication;
- develop and apply conceptual and methodological frameworks for the collection of internationally comparable data and indicators;
- help Member States to improve the quality and analysis of their data;
- develop new indicators to better reflect the policy needs of developing countries in particular;
- promote wider use of data for policymaking.
The UIS regional network of statistical advisors plays an integral role in statistical capacity building and the improvement of data quality at the national and international levels. The Institute has been steadily reinforcing this network, which currently includes advisors in the Arab States, Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.
The scope of UIS activities in support of statistical capacity building includes country and regional level interventions, with importance given to diagnostic studies of statistical information management systems, data quality assessment, training and technical assistance. In addition, the UIS organizes regional workshops on international standards, data collection and analysis primarily in the fields of education, and science and technology. Workshops are also organized to develop and implement new statistical frameworks (such as the 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics) and surveys on emerging statistical issues, such as information literacy.
The Institute also offers projects to reinforce capacities in specific fields of interest. Examples include a recent initiative to improve the collection, quality and analysis of education finance data in sub-Saharan African countries.
The UIS develops and pilots new survey approaches, as illustrated by the Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP) which employs state-of-the-art methodologies to measure a full range of literacy skills.
The Institute supports the development of National Statistical Development Strategies, and tries to ensure that the needs of line ministries, such as ministries of education, science, and culture, are adequately reflected.
Received July 2010