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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.
The Division of Statistics should be granted functional autonomywithin 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.