5

Recommendations

The following recommendations are intended to accomplish two principal objectives: (1) to assist UNESCO in designing an education statistics program capable of meeting twenty-first-century information expectations and (2) to improve the operation of that program.

BICSE believes that, if UNESCO wishes to support a credible statistics program, it should be expected to articulate an appropriate mission for the program, create an organizational structure consistent with the mission, ensure that key enabling conditions exist so the mission can be carried out, and provide adequate support for the core functions of the statistics unit. External agencies with a stake in better global education data that want more extensive data on education should be expected to help build capacity in individual countries and to support special and developmental activities beyond UNESCO 's core responsibilities.

Although we focus on the education statistics program, in keeping with our charge, we believe that the recommendations below are compatible with UNESCO's responsibility for statistical activities covering science, culture, and communication.

MISSION

UNESCO should articulate and legitimize a broader mission for its statistics branch.



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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role 5 Recommendations The following recommendations are intended to accomplish two principal objectives: (1) to assist UNESCO in designing an education statistics program capable of meeting twenty-first-century information expectations and (2) to improve the operation of that program. BICSE believes that, if UNESCO wishes to support a credible statistics program, it should be expected to articulate an appropriate mission for the program, create an organizational structure consistent with the mission, ensure that key enabling conditions exist so the mission can be carried out, and provide adequate support for the core functions of the statistics unit. External agencies with a stake in better global education data that want more extensive data on education should be expected to help build capacity in individual countries and to support special and developmental activities beyond UNESCO 's core responsibilities. Although we focus on the education statistics program, in keeping with our charge, we believe that the recommendations below are compatible with UNESCO's responsibility for statistical activities covering science, culture, and communication. MISSION UNESCO should articulate and legitimize a broader mission for its statistics branch.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role UNESCO should fundamentally reconsider its purposes in the area of statistics. We believe that it should articulate and legitimize a formal mission statement reflecting more worldwide interest in education statistics than characterized UNESCO at its founding. It should embody a broader sense of audience and responsibilities than the expectations articulated for the Division of Statistics over two decades ago. A new mission statement should take into account developments in the environment in which UNESCO operates: the altered human capital needs of member states, growth in internationalism among private-sector companies, and the emergence of major third-party agencies concerned with social infrastructure planning and development throughout the world. It should acknowledge constituencies beyond member states and internal users. It should also reflect the role of the division in developing a framework or model of educational processes to guide the collection and distillation of information. If specific priorities are identified in the mission statement, they need to be reviewed as understanding grows about the nature of the underlying educational processes the organization is attempting to describe. In any event, the mission statement should be reviewed periodically in light of changing conditions within UNESCO and in the world. A new mission statement is important in order to guide the structural and operational changes recommended below. In effect, a realigned mission will serve as a charter authorizing leaders to undertake the necessary additional personnel and resource allocation changes needed to revitalize the education statistics program. If developed through a broadly consultative process with both interested and potential users, the new mission statement also can serve as a way of attracting the commitment of all prospective participants, a commitment that will be necessary for the successful transition to a more dynamic agency. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE The Division of Statistics should be granted functional autonomy within UNESCO. UNESCO should undertake the systematic steps necessary to transfer its statistics activities to a functionally autonomous organization within the UNESCO framework. We suggest that the Division of Statistics (probably renamed) should have a status similar to that granted to certain other UNESCO entities. Organizational reform is almost always an attractive recommendation for an external appraisal team to make. One can shuffle boxes on an organizational chart and create at least an illusion of reform or progress. If some additional positive outcome results, then so much the better.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role In this instance, however, there appears to be a happy convergence between BICSE's recommendations about organizational changes that could improve education statistics and indicators and UNESCO's own realization that functional autonomy offers important advantages for selected units. The organization's draft Medium-Term Strategy, 1996-2001 (UNESCO, 1995b), which will be considered by the 1995 General Conference, emphasizes the importance of making improvements in the functioning of the organization and notes (pp. 63-64): It is in this context that the measures to confer effective functional autonomy on certain programmes are to be seen. The idea is to strengthen these programmes' operational capacity and potential impact, while ensuring that they are suitably flexible and versatile, but also to mobilize them to a greater extent and more directly in the service of the Organization's work. For “autonomy” does not mean “detachment”, quite the contrary. The International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) has led in this process and the results are on the whole very positive. Now the International Bureau of Education (IBE) and the UNESCO Institute for Education (UIE) are also being given functional autonomy, but it is expected that over the period covered by the Medium-Term Strategy, the three bodies will contribute far more to meeting the overall priorities of the Organization's education programme. It is proposed that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Heritage Centre (WHC) benefit from similar administrative and financial arrangements with the same end in view. BICSE reached its conclusion about the advantages of functional autonomy for the Division of Statistics after exploring a range of alternatives. What were they, and why did we settle on semiautonomy as the most desirable? Beyond simply accepting the status quo, six alternative organizational rearrangements suggest themselves. Arranged roughly in order from least to most autonomous, they include: (1) elevation or alteration of the division's status within UNESCO's existing organizational structure, (2) attachment of the division directly to the Education Sector (that is, the education program unit) within UNESCO, (3) realignment with one of UNESCO' s existing functionally autonomous agencies, (4) BICSE's preferred approach: transformation to a newly formed semiautonomous agency for education statistics that reports to UNESCO's Director General, (5) consolidation with another agency within the general UN family, and (6) a completely privatized vendor organization selected through a bidding process and operating under contract to UNESCO in the provision of education information. We consider each of these arrangements in the sections that follow. 1. Realignment within UNESCO. Elevating the statistical function in the UNESCO organizational hierarchy and according the division's head

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role higher civil service rank would bring the statistical program into better balance with other UNESCO education activities and would give the division the advantages of enhanced stature and visibility. If implementation of our preferred option of functional autonomy proves impossible, then this is a worthwhile reform to consider. The principal drawback to such a solution is that it does not offer the same degree of hope as a functionally autonomous unit for creating better relationships with information users and third-party organizations, does not take maximum advantage of the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial activity, does not free the division from UNESCO's considerable administrative and financial operating requirements, and does not offer as wide an opportunity for a completely fresh start. 2. Subsuming statistics within UNESCO's Education Sector. This, too, is attractive in that it would place the education statistics activity with its principal internal client. Doing so would ensure that what is collected would be what is needed, at least within UNESCO. Ideally, Education Sector analysts would regularly undertake research with collected data, ensuring further that the information is accurate. Also, statistics would be merged with a unit that enjoys high regard both inside and outside UNESCO. The principal drawback is that statistics might be swamped by one client, would have its relationships with both data providers and users cramped, would have entrepreneurial impulses pruned, and still would not be liberated from UNESCO's operating procedures. Moreover, it is not clear that the potential benefits would in fact be realized; for example, the Education Sector has not traditionally had a quantitative orientation. Also, giving the Education Sector responsibility for education statistics begs the question of what would happen to UNESCO 's responsibilities to gather data on science, culture, and communication. These program sectors are not as large as the Education Sector and might be quite unprepared to undertake a significant statistical program. 3. Alignment with an existing functionally autonomous agency. There is some superficial logic to such a move. UNESCO has three functionally autonomous units in education already, one of which (the International Institute for Educational Planning) is Paris-based and has overlapping interests in training. IIEP has shown that a functionally autonomous unit can attract able leadership and external funds, operate flexibly, establish strong governing and advisory structures, and develop an admirable reputation. The positive side of aligning the statistics unit with such an agency is the hope of capturing some of these existing strengths. The downside of this option is that statistical activities would still be subsumed within a nonstatistical agency, with its interests perhaps taking second place to well-established organizational goals, culture, and operating

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role procedures. We believe that it is preferable to restructure the statistical unit in such a way that its needs and interests are paramount. 4. Formation of a new functionally autonomous agency. BICSE has identified this as the preferred organizational alternative principally because it preserves what has been productive regarding the past and holds the prospect for creating a positive new future. Greater visibility, a greater degree of independence from UNESCO bureaucratic rules, senior leadership at a high level, and an enterprising charter would enhance the agency's attractiveness to highly qualified statistics professionals, inspire confidence within the expanded community of data users and prospective external donors, and create freedom for creative solutions to long-standing problems. Managers would be able to make their own decisions about the most appropriate internal structure and operating practices (e.g., using flexible working teams rather than an externally mandated staff division into two comparatively inflexible sections). A functionally autonomous statistical unit could (as does IIEP) have a small, carefully chosen governing board composed of highly qualified individuals who can provide policy guidance for the statistics unit, champion its needs and concerns to the Director General, and serve as a search committee to find and recommend to the Director General highly qualified candidates to lead the statistics program. The risks involved are those attached to a new venture. A miscue of leadership, inability to gain added resources, or a failure to adequately make the transition from the existing structure would trigger a hardship that might be difficult to overcome. Also, such semiautonomous standing might provoke anxiety among other UNESCO components. However, these risks appear small when compared with the prospective advantages. 5. Consolidation with another UN agency. This possibility is included for logical reasons—but in reality, it makes little sense to us. If education were attached to a generic statistical agency, it could lose the intellectual integrity that comes from attachment to those knowledgeable about the substance of education. Without such an intellectual anchor, a statistics agency might soon begin to float free of reality and lose its credibility with data users. Moreover, attempting to determine the correct agency with which to align statistics would be difficult. It is also hard to imagine that UNESCO would easily permit the usurpation of what could be one of its most successful and significant future activities. 6. Private-sector vendor. UNESCO could create a new charter or mission for statistics and then distill the essence of the expectations into a request for proposal (RFP) from an outside private vendor. Such an agent would operate under contract to UNESCO and, presumably, would be held accountable through periodic performance reviews. Such an arrangement could foster entrepreneurial efforts, operate relatively free of bureaucratic restraints, be held strictly accountable for its performance, and might prove remarkably creative.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role The downside is that such a private-sector service agency might need a long time to rebuild the trust relationships with data providers that now exist. Also, it assuredly would take a private provider a while to gain operating momentum. There are few private-sector precedents for such an undertaking, and the learning curve for a new contractor might initially be quite steep. This alternative could be regarded as a high-risk but potentially high-gain venture. The idea could be held in abeyance; if over time our preferred alternative, the functionally autonomous agency, proves infeasible or ineffective, then complete privatization could be reconsidered. Also, the functional autonomy alternative does not preclude operating partially through private-sector contracts if the new agency's leaders so choose. We do not claim here that organizational change will, by itself, be sufficient. However, we do claim that without such a dramatic alteration, other operational reforms are unlikely to contain sufficient dynamism to create the kind of organization that ultimately will be necessary. HUMAN AND TECHNOLOGICAL RESOURCES UNESCO should bring its human and technological resources devoted to statistical activities into better balance with expectations for these activities. Appropriate human and technological resources will enable UNESCO to fulfill the potential of its statistics program. Personnel and technology needs will be closely intertwined in the next decade. The nature of the work in the Division of Statistics will change profoundly, requiring not necessarily a significantly larger staff but a reconfigured one. Plans need to be developed to take into account the effects of new technology on the division's human resources and to prepare for significant turnover due to retirements. The existing technology development plan needs to be buttressed. Experience with introducing information technology innovation has shown that simply introducing new computers and software is not sufficient to create significant productivity gains (Boynton et al., 1994; Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 1993; King et al., 1994; Business Week, 1993; Tyre and Orlikowski, 1994). This requires considerable additional investment in human resources and process reengineering and often requires long development times. The information technology plans of the division do not adequately take this experience into account. Over time, additional professional statisticians should be added to the staff. The ratio of professionals to general services staff should shift from 1:1 to something more like 3:1. For several reasons, the work of the division will require less clerical and more professional support.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role As the new computer systems become available, they will allow more data to be received and processed on disk or by direct transmission rather than through paper questionnaires. Users should increasingly be able to access data electronically rather than depend on data clerks to process their requests. Requests that do come to the division will be more sophisticated in content, requiring highly skilled statisticians to respond and to provide information on the origins and meaning of various statistics and indicators. The new technology will allow a much higher level of service to users if the division exploits its potential and shifts from an almost exclusive focus on providing a few standardized products to expanding the variety and sophistication of data services. During the three to five years that it will take to upgrade and reformat the data base and reengineer the division's work to take advantage of new data processing capabilities, the very process of change will place great burdens on the staff. In addition, the division will need to compensate for past deficiencies in quality control and documentation before key data clerks retire. We believe that during the transition period the division will need at least two additional staff for quality control and data base maintenance functions and that, in order to secure adequate qualifications, these should be professional rather than clerical positions. We also believe that there should be an additional staff member hired to develop the support and documentation services we describe in the next section. Finally, the division' s personnel development plan should provide resources for training existing staff in data base and spreadsheet applications and should recognize that staff training will be an ongoing need due to expected turnover. Although the division has made good decisions to date about the new computer platform and, within the limits of resources, is implementing these decisions efficiently, plans are needed for providing for more powerful hardware and for addressing technical and policy issues involved in providing wider user access to the data base. The full potential of the new computer platform will not be realized without more powerful hardware. The two computers now functioning as servers (a low-capacity 386 DX/33 for the division's LAN and a higher-capacity 486 DX2/66 that will be the dedicated server for the data base) should both be upgraded. The LAN server is inadequate for even the division's current needs; we understand a new machine is on order. The data base server, while providing adequate response times for current production tasks, does not guarantee satisfactory performance on the wider range of queries and analyses that the new data base software will make possible. A 100 Mhz Pentium or better machine is needed. In addition, a third server may be needed on which to store a dissemination data base (as distinct from the operational data base being continuously maintained and upgraded by the division staff), allowing electronic access by outside users while safeguard-

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role ing the data themselves. Finally, all the division's 386 computers need to be replaced with 486 or better systems and all need to be upgraded to at least 8 MB RAM. There are additional policy and hardware issues relating to data base access and wide-area networking that need attention. The transition to the new PC/LAN data base has the potential to greatly expand access to the data resources to UNESCO, the UN system, and many other external users. This arrangement provides the basic infrastructure for expanded access to division staff directly through their LAN, to the rest of UNESCO through a cabling system, and potentially to many other external users through WAN connections. However, providing this infrastructure is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improved access. A considerable number of additional policy, administrative, and technical arrangements are required to implement effective data base access to the full population of potential users. The existing plans lack considerable detail regarding these arrangements. They need to address three questions: Who shall have access? What levels or types of access will be provided? How will resources and user support for access be provided and data security ensured? The basic combinations of likely users and their access links are listed in Table 3. Each combination of user and access type implies a different set of policy and technology issues. Planning for data base access will require decisions on each of these issues and provision of appropriate technology and administrative arrangements for control and support. The technological infrastructure required to provide most of the types of access to users outside the division is not in place. Considerable investment in planning and new system resources will be required to provide LAN-to-LAN connectivity within UNESCO. Even more may be required to provide for WAN access to external users, including a new server for a dissemination data base, as described above. Direct access to a dissemination data base via the Internet would be simpler to install and maintain than relying on existing WAN linkages to UNESCO's mainframe computer and would be more compatible with emerging technology standards and patterns of development generally. A number of software developers are now providing tools to create interactive interfaces between PC or UNIX platform data bases and Internet access. And the basic technical problems of maintaining this type of access are reasonably well understood (see Burgard and Phillips, 1994). To simplify the operation, it may be desirable to use the UNIX operating system as the environment for the dissemination data base, instead of the Novell/DOS system envisioned in the division 's current technology plans. However, this decision should await the development of the UNESCO-wide informatics plan (in process).

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role TABLE 3 Matrix of Likely Users of the UNESCO Education Data Base and Possible Levels of Access     Options for Level of Access User Group Type of Access Link File Transfer Only Controlled File Access Interactive File Access Division Staff LAN       UNESCO/Paris LAN to LAN       UNESCO/non-Paris WAN       UN System WAN       Other Organizations WAN       Member States WAN       Individuals WAN       File transfer only: The user is limited to obtaining files containing data (as much as the entire dissemination data base), which have been prepared in advance by the division. Controlled file access: The user can select various elements of data from a file and/or various calculations or reports from a prearranged list or menu prepared by the division staff. Interactive file access: The user can interact directly with the data base to select specific data elements, combinations, calculations, and reports. Direct access would also provide a more receptive foundation for the kind of client/server data base developments described in divisional planning documents. The client/server (C/S) development approach can provide a system that facilitates wide sharing of data and work flow across an organization or WAN community. C/S systems provide the user with access to data and the potential to do complex manipulations across many different platforms and from remote sites. However, to function up to this potential, the C/S system must be designed to accommodate the actual diversity of systems and users to be included. The most appropriate C/S model for the UNESCO setting would follow the three-tier approach described by Turner (1994).1 The division's existing technology plans have 1   The three-tier approach is a way of linking separate computers and user networks as one form of what is usually referred to as a client/server architecture. Rather than a structure whereby users connect directly to the main data base, there are three tiers. In one tier, the individual users have PCs (or workstations) with software called clients that they use to construct requests for data or manipulations of data (queries). The clients send the queries to the middle tier, in which there is a system that receives the queries and translates them into a form that can be processed by the system in the third tier: the data base server. The server then sends the results of processing the query to the middle tier, which converts it to the appropriate form for the PC and sends it down.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role CORE AND SUPPLEMENTAL ACTIVITIES not progressed to the point at which this level of specification has been developed. Further planning will be necessary to implement the kind of overall system capable of providing wide and flexible interactive access. It will also be possible in such a system to control and account for usage by external users and, if desired, implement cost recovery policies through fees. In addition to interactive access, an adequate dissemination data base can also be made available directly to users by diskette, CD-ROM, or electronic file transfer. This can provide a low-cost way for users with their own analytical capacity to use the data base. For diskette and CD-ROM dissemination, it may be desirable to provide rudimentary software along with the files to allow for simple access (such as is done with other national data bases available in these media). This would be especially valuable for users in the less developed member states who may have limited analytical resources of their own. UNESCO should demonstrate its commitment to a core set of activities that are responsive to its organizational needs and that can inspire confidence in outside agencies that might wish to fund supplemental activities through or in coordination with the Division of Statistics. UNESCO should identify a core set of statistical activities to which it is prepared to commit financial and other support sufficient to achieve a high standard of relevance, accuracy, and trust. It should aggressively seek to develop partnerships with data users who can help to fund supplemental activities consistent with its goals of improving global education statistics and indicators. Among the candidates for these core functions are the following: 1. Establishing common definitions and data standards. A fundamental component of credibility for a statistical organization is trust in the accuracy of its data. Data comparability and quality depend on the exist-

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role ence of common definitions and standards. Establishing definitions and standards is arduous and time-consuming work; today's international economic statistics, for example, reflect efforts at improvement in quality and comparability that began in the 1950s, and experts have been working on common ways to measure science research and development for 20 years or more. UNESCO should reassert the active interest it had in such issues at the time it developed ISCED. It should be a leading participant in efforts under way at OECD and elsewhere to refine definitions and standards, with a special responsibility to bring to the discussions the needs of developing countries and issues of particular interest in specific regions (such as the special concern in Latin America about the accurate measurement of school grade repeaters). The Division of Statistics should move aggressively to resolve the current question of ISCED revision and should continuously monitor the adequacy of the classification system. It should revitalize its efforts to provide standards for data content and quality to guide governments around the world that are only now establishing education statistics systems. There might be several levels of standards to provide countries with a model for continuous improvement of their education statistics programs. Information about which countries have chosen to adhere to which standards could also help data users in interpreting the data provided through UNESCO. Although common definitions and reporting standards cannot be developed overnight and are especially problematic when the capacity of data providers varies as much as it does in UNESCO's global universe of nations, the division should make it an ongoing priority to improve quality in the data it collects and reports. Experts from leading statistical agencies could offer valuable advice in developing a long-term plan. Written standards for internal operating procedures and better provision of information to users on the quality of data received and limitations inherent in their use should be addressed in the near future. 2. Regularly collecting and disseminating core education statistics and indicators. The Division of Statistics should continue to routinely collect and disseminate a core of specified education data. Processes should be developed to consult periodically with users and with education experts about emerging needs that might call for expanded core data or indicators. Proposals for change should be evaluated against a model of educational processes that acts as a framework for identifying priority needs, and this framework itself should be periodically reviewed. Although we believe that the division's data collection priorities should emerge from continuing consultations with users and experts rather than from this report, we note that such consultations almost certainly will suggest that significantly more attention should be given to measuring the performance of educational systems and the achievement of students.

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role Before new data collection is undertaken by UNESCO itself, careful attention should be given to the use of education data contained in surveys conducted by other international agencies. Opportunities for joint data collection with other organizations, to minimize the burden on data providers, should be actively pursued. (A model for this already exists: countries providing education data to UNESCO, OECD, and Eurostat, the statistical office of the European communities, now do so on a single set of education questionnaires that are elaborated versions of the basic UNESCO education surveys.) Decisions about modifying the scope of the core data and of routine reporting practices should be brought to the division's governing board (assuming functional autonomy). This is the appropriate place to settle the inevitable conflict that arises when changing the design of data or its collection system between “those who strongly favor the status quo in order to maintain comparability over time and those whose needs will best be met by the proposed changes” (Levine, 1986:20). An early issue for attention should be the desirability of continuing to collect and/or to publish core statistical data on an annual cycle. BICSE's consultations with users indicate that many support an annual collection cycle, not least because of the encouragement it provides to member states to undertake statistical activities. Others, however, note that the core data do not change much from year to year and believe less frequent, and perhaps more thorough and accurate, collection would suffice. BICSE cannot fully explore all the important ramifications of this issue but believes it is an important one to address. The question of annual publication of core data should be considered separately. Even if annual collection continues, it is debatable whether the time and effort necessary to produce a full Statistical Yearbook are warranted. Technology makes possible alternative ways of providing both up-to-date and customized access to the data themselves. These alternatives should be fully explored as the division completes the transfer of its data base to a more user-friendly computer environment. We believe that more emphasis should be given to the efforts already under way to develop education indicators. The current project appears conceptually strong. It promises to address the concerns of policy makers in both nations and international agencies about education information relevant to decision making; and, in its bottom up approach, it seems to give countries important incentives to improve their statistical systems. Focusing developmental activities at a regional level gives countries with different statistical capacities and education problems an opportunity to devise locally appropriate measures. The project is, however, underfinanced and understaffed. 3. Documenting the data base. A key responsibility of a statistical unit is to fully document its data base. We suggested above that the Division of

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role Statistics needs an additional staff member to develop support and documentation services. This person should be responsible for developing a documentation data base to record and analyze all data corrections and adjustments. This data base should also include all relevant notes and other information necessary to interpret adjustments to or changes in national data. The documentation specialist should identify decision rules and other quality control procedures and prepare quality control and interpretation manuals to accompany the computerized dissemination data base and other division data products. The specialist should also develop materials and methods to support external user access to the new data base systems. 4. Planning and coordinating a strategic research and development effort. UNESCO's statistical agency should assume as one of its core activities a continuous scanning of environmental conditions in order to anticipate the need for special statistical studies, development or adoption of new statistical techniques, and changes to core functions. For example, numerous users have suggested that sample surveys could be used in many parts of the world to collect new kinds of data, or perhaps in time even to collect some of the data that are now gathered through annual census-type surveys. Outside funding agencies with special interest in particular new products or processes might be asked to support the detailed research and development efforts necessary to bring such activities on line. (More is said about this below.) However, the origination and coordination of such research and development efforts should appropriately be a core function of the division. In effect, we are saying that the division needs to have as one of its fundamental responsibilities a statistical strategic planning capacity. 5. Carrying out analytic activities. At least some analytic activity should be carried out as a core function by the Division of Statistics. Analysis is crucial as a continuous check on the accuracy and relevance of the data the unit collects. Information flaws and deficits can be guarded against by careful internal procedures, reliance on high standards, and technical procedures. However, the ultimate bulwark against inaccuracy and irrelevance is use of the information. 6. Catalyzing efforts to build the statistical infrastructure in member states.UNESCO has a strong moral commitment to building the statistical infrastructure in member states. The task is so enormous, however, that UNESCO should explicitly recognize that it cannot do it alone. Nevertheless, the organization must give strong leadership and technical support to the effort to improve the ability and willingness of countries with weaker statistical systems to provide better data. UNESCO should see its role in capacity-building as primarily a catalyzing one. The Division of Statistics should focus on aggressively seeking out opportunities for collaboration with multinational and bilateral donors to develop capacity within individual countries. One problem with the

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role existing regional and country workshop approach is that it gives rise to desires and expectations that are beyond UNESCO's ability to fulfill. Partnerships with donor agencies should be established prior to workshops, and donors should be actively involved in planning and carrying out the activity, as the Asian Development Bank was in the recent jointly sponsored regional workshop in Asia on education indicators. The division's primary role should be to initiate and encourage contacts between member states and donors and to design prototype materials and training programs for the implementation of national capacity development projects. Division staff, utilizing the expertise gained in routine data collection, should help potential donors identify critical areas for improvement, which differ substantially from country to country. The National Action Plan that each country participating in the indicators project must prepare will be useful in identifying capacity-building needs as well. Donor agencies, in turn, should encourage infrastructure improvements within countries that both meet internal needs and are consistent with standards and definitions that UNESCO should develop for the global community. Moreover, these donors should condition their assistance on a commitment by recipients to accuracy and freedom from political interference in their statistical reports. These core functions should serve as a foundation for other activities. Even under ideal conditions, UNESCO is unlikely ever to have the resources in its regular program budget to meet the world's need for education statistics and indicators and to support the development of the statistical system infrastructure that is currently lacking in many nations. Even some of activities that used to be considered fundamental to the division (like member state services and capacity-building) have declined in number and scope in recent years. Thus BICSE believes that it is important for the division (aided by users and the new advisory and governing groups we propose under the functional autonomy arrangement) to move aggressively in identifying activities and partnerships most likely to win financial support from outside organizations. We have already suggested that capacity-building in member states is one obvious target of opportunity for partnership with international development agencies. An existing model for such an activity is the NESIS project in Africa, sponsored by Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and UNICEF. Special studies and research and development in support of new data collection and new products are other possible candidates for external funding. Data users have suggested many topics on which they would like to have better information, including such things as the education of women and girls in UNESCO member states, progress in achieving basic education for all, the extent of private schooling efforts around the world, and the academic achievement of students. The list could be extended substan-

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WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role tially, but the point would remain the same. There are important studies to be conducted and detailed analyses to be done of the feasibility of gathering new kinds of data and utilizing new collection methods (such as sample surveys rather than censuses). Since better information is of interest to many organizations, it is appropriate to expect that they will be willing to support these supplemental activities. The new governing board we envision for the reconfigured division should encourage its leadership to seek outside support and should make sure that any externally supported activities that are undertaken are important and are compatible with the division's responsibilities to UNESCO and its member states. CONCLUSION In sum, the foregoing set of recommended reforms is intended to enhance worldwide confidence in UNESCO's statistical capacity and to create a solid foundation on which to build an improved global system of educational statistics and indicators. Many of these recommendations are commonsensical and, no doubt, are on the minds of UNESCO officials themselves. We want to stress, however, that we view these recommendations for reform and reorganization as a synergistic package, possessing mutually reinforcing possibilities if adopted in their totality. They are designed to take maximum advantage of their reciprocal interactions. Accordingly, we hope that UNESCO will read this report as a call to move boldly and rapidly to adopt these proposals in their entirety.