2

The Evolution of Statistics at UNESCO

We began by examining the current program and capabilities of UNESCO 's Division of Statistics.

MISSION

UNESCO was created in 1945, as World War II drew to a close, to advance, “through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind . . .” (opening section, UNESCO constitution). The organization is a so-called specialized agency within the United Nations (UN) system, with independent governance, membership, and financing.

UNESCO is not primarily or predominately a statistical agency. The purposes and functions of UNESCO, as defined in Article I of its constitution, make no specific mention of data gathering, but rather emphasize collaboration among nations to advance mutual knowledge and understanding through mass communication; to promote popular education and the spread of culture; and to maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge. It is in Article VIII on “reports by member states ” that the constitution calls for each member state to “report periodically to the Organization, in a manner to be determined by the General Conference, on its laws, regulations and statistics relating to educational, scientific and cultural life and institutions . . . .”



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role 2 The Evolution of Statistics at UNESCO We began by examining the current program and capabilities of UNESCO 's Division of Statistics. MISSION UNESCO was created in 1945, as World War II drew to a close, to advance, “through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind . . .” (opening section, UNESCO constitution). The organization is a so-called specialized agency within the United Nations (UN) system, with independent governance, membership, and financing. UNESCO is not primarily or predominately a statistical agency. The purposes and functions of UNESCO, as defined in Article I of its constitution, make no specific mention of data gathering, but rather emphasize collaboration among nations to advance mutual knowledge and understanding through mass communication; to promote popular education and the spread of culture; and to maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge. It is in Article VIII on “reports by member states ” that the constitution calls for each member state to “report periodically to the Organization, in a manner to be determined by the General Conference, on its laws, regulations and statistics relating to educational, scientific and cultural life and institutions . . . .”

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role Nevertheless, UNESCO has been involved in data collection virtually since its inception, and “the collection and collation of international statistics in the field of education was one of the first operational activities carried out by UNESCO after the organization was established ” (UNESCO, 1994:3). Since the founding of the family of specialized human development agencies (notably UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNDP) within the UN, the responsibility for statistics on education and related social and cultural matters has resided in UNESCO. Its predecessor organization, the International Bureau of Education (which is now part of UNESCO), began publishing the International Yearbook on Education, with information on national trends in education, in 1933. UNESCO 's first questionnaire-based survey of education was conducted in 1950 and covered 57 member states (Puryear, 1995:81). In 1974, at the direct urging of member states, the formal responsibilities of UNESCO's statistical office were categorized in the Director General 's annual report as follows: to collect, compile, analyze, and disseminate education statistics; to maintain the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED); to improve and expand data collection on science and technology; to expand collection and improve the quality of data on culture and communication and to standardize statistics on radio and television; to expand the educational data bank and publications (with an emphasis on financing and higher education); and to provide assistance to member states for the development of statistical services. In the words of “UNESCO 1974: Report of the Director General” (UNESCO, 1976:181): “The [UNESCO] statistical activities had a double purpose: to service the Secretariat's programme sectors and to serve the member states. ” The functions and purposes articulated in 1974 have effectively become the mission statement for the Division of Statistics and continue to represent the organization's formal approach to its statistical activities. ACTIVITIES Today, UNESCO reports data on education, science, communication, and culture in over 200 member and nonmember states, collected through a series of 15 annual questionnaires, 3 of which focus on education. 1 1   The three are: (1) the questionnaire on statistics of education for education preceding the first level and at the first and second levels, (2) the questionnaire on statistics of education at the third level, and (3) the questionnaire on statistics of education finance and expenditure.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role The education questionnaires ask for full counts, or censuses, of schools, students, and teachers in preprimary through “third level ” or higher education. At the preprimary through secondary levels, countries are asked to provide information (for public and private schools separately and totaled) on the number of institutions, students, and teachers; the official entrance age; the duration of schooling; enrollment by sex and age; enrollment in various vocational courses of study; and qualifications awarded. At the “third level,” countries are asked for basic counts of enrollments, teachers, and institutions, plus enrollment by field of study at various degree levels, numbers of foreign students by country of origin, and numbers of graduates in various fields (and the duration of studies). The finance and expenditure questionnaire seeks information on public financing of education (from various levels of government) and on private financing. Countries are asked for current public expenditure by level of education and purpose and for the sources of current and capital expenditure provided by the private sector. UNESCO's key statistical product is the Statistical Yearbook, published annually since 1963. Undergirding the yearbook is a data base containing information on each participating nation (UNESCO members and nonmembers), which is arguably the largest and most detailed data base on national education statistics, as well as on science and culture, in the world. The current data base consists of over 2.5 million records, including over 4,000 data items (drawn from the questionnaires and other supplementary sources on basic demographic statistics), and for some countries covers more than a 20-year time span. In addition to its data base and related publications, UNESCO's statistical office made important early contributions to the development of global education statistical systems by articulating standards for data collection and classification. The Tenth Session (1958) of the UNESCO General Conference adopted a “Recommendation Concerning the International Standardization of Educational Statistics” that spelled out what statistical data should be compiled and reported in the field of education. The recommendation also included definitions, classifications, methods of measurement, and suggested tabulations. A decade-long UNESCO effort to develop a fuller classification system for education statistics culminated in the adoption of the ISCED by the International Conference on Education in 1975. In 1978 UNESCO 's General Conference incorporated ISCED into its “Revised Recommendation Concerning the International Standardization of Educational Statistics.” ISCED helped guide the development of national statistical systems in countries that had not previously had comprehensive classification systems of their own, and it is the official basis for the statistics reported to international bodies such as UNESCO, OECD, and Eurostat. Service to member states occurs through a variety of activities, includ-

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role ing regional workshops for improving statistical capabilities and promoting cooperation among member states, technical advisory services to individual member states, grants and contracts for improving statistical infrastructures in member states, and development of training materials and software. Each year there are also special activities that are added to respond to particular needs and opportunities. For example, the 1996-1997 draft regular budget (UNESCO, 1995a) provides for part of the funds that will be needed for a training workshop for young women statisticians from the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and the Arab states and for efforts to refine education indicators in cooperation with other international organizations. Finally, UNESCO's Division of Statistics has over the years produced publications and provided data to the Education Sector within UNESCO and to a variety of outside agencies. In addition to the Statistical Yearbook, UNESCO sponsors Statistical Reports and Studies, Current Surveys in Research and Statistics, and Statistical Issues. (As described more fully below, however, the division has been increasingly unable to support publications other than the yearbook.) Since the Education Sector launched the World Education Report in 1991, the division has cooperated in the development of the education indicators reported therein. The division prepares statistical information for the regional meetings of education ministers sponsored by the Education Sector and responds to requests for data from international agencies such as the World Bank, the UN and its various agencies, and OECD, from education and other nongovernmental organizations, and from the press, researchers, market research organizations, and others. ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY UNESCO carries out its educational statistics activities through its Division of Statistics, which has formal responsibility for scientific and cultural statistics as well. Over the past quarter century, the division2 has been located in three different organizational units within UNESCO. From 1970 to 1976, it resided in the Communication Sector, which also included the Department of Library and Archives. In 1977 it was moved to the Programme Support Sector, which also contained the Languages and Documentation Service (interpretation, translation, and documents), the General Services Division (including building utilization and maintenance, transport, mail, security services, etc.), and the Conference Division. A panel of experts on UNESCO's statistical services, convened in 1991 at the behest of the 25th General Conference (1989), indicated concern 2   In 1991 the title of the entity responsible for statistics was changed from “office” to “division.” In this report we use the current title throughout for simplicity 's sake.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role about this seemingly marginal location. The panel suggested that “ways and means be studied for improving the status and functional autonomy of the Division of Statistics within the organizational structure of UNESCO, so that it can assume full responsibility for the implementation of one of the two major Transverse Programmes in the Third Medium-Term Plan . . . that of Statistical Programmes and Services” (UNESCO, 1991:Annex 3:3). The 26th General Conference (1991) followed up this recommendation with its own advice to the Director General “to consider measures that would enable the Division of Statistics to assume a more central place, among the programme sectors, as is necessary to effectively implement the operational components of this transverse program . . .” (UNESCO, 1992:99). In 1992 the Director General implemented this recommendation by moving the division to the Bureau of Studies, Programming and Evaluation, which is attached directly to the Directorate of the organization (Figure 1). It is one of three units within the bureau (the others are the Division of Studies and Programming and the Central Evaluation Unit) and represents about 70 percent of the bureau's staff. The bureau is headed by an Assistant Director General, who is a senior member of UNESCO's management team but who is not a professional statistician. The division itself is divided into two sections (Figure 2): the Section for the Development of Statistical Services (ST/DEV) and the Section on Data Collection and Analyses (ST/DAT). The two sections are assigned approximately equal numbers of staff, in keeping with the official view that the mission of the division anticipates that 50 percent of staff and other resources will be in support of member states. HUMAN AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES The Division of Statistics currently receives about 1.2 percent of UNESCO's regular program budget and represents about 1.5 percent of the organization's staff. The division's regular program budget for 1994-1995 (UNESCO budgets on a biennial basis) was $5.4 million (US), with 33 authorized posts about equally divided between professional and clerical staff. ST/ DEV consists of a chief of section, a secretary, 6 professional staff, and 5 general services staff. ST/DAT includes a chief of section, a secretary, 5 professional staff, and 10 general services staff 3. The division is overseen by a director, who is assisted by an administrative officer and a secretary.4 In addition to regular program budgets authorized by UNESCO's biennial General Conference, units can receive “extrabudgetary” funds from outside agencies for specific purposes. In 1994-1995, the Division of Statistics received $1.3 million (US) in extrabudgetary resources, largely for the NESIS project (described in a later section). 3   The disproportionate share of the clerical work of the division falls on ST/DAT, and this explains the relative allocation of professional and general services staff. 4   This paragraph describes the authorized posts for the division. As this report was being written, the chief of ST/DEV was serving as acting director of the division, following the retirement in early 1995 of the director.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role FIGURE 1 Organizational chart of the Secretariat of UNESCO, 1994-1995.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role FIGURE 2 Organizational chart of the Bureau of Studies, Programming and Evaluation, 1994-1995. Over the past decade, the division has suffered an almost continuous decline in the number of authorized staff posts, as shown in Table 1. The table also indicates that funding levels took a steep dip in the 1986-1987 biennium and only in 1992-1993 began to surpass their 1984-1985 levels in current dollars, without adjusting for inflation. Table 2 shows that this situation mirrors that in UNESCO as a whole, TABLE 1 Number of Posts and Approved Regular Program Budgets: Division of Statistics: 1984-1997 ($US thousands—not adjusted for inflation) Biennium Number of Posts Staff Costs Other Direct Costs Total Costs 1984-1985 51 $3,939 $744 $4,683 1986-1987 42 3,613 674 4,287 1988-1989 39 3,468 652 4,120 1990-1991 36 3,470 899 4,369 1992-1993 33 3,826 908 4,734 1994-1995 33 4,155 1,087 5,372 1996-1997 32 4,626 1,298 5,924 (proposed)         Source: UNESCO Division of Statistics

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role TABLE 2 Number of Posts and Approved Regular Program Budgets: Total UNESCO, 1984-1997 ($US thousands—not adjusted for inflation) Biennium Number of Posts Staff Costs Other Direct Costs Total Costs 1984-1985 2,744 $227,576 $146,834 $374,410 1986-1987 2,417 190,265 116,958 307,223 1988-1989 2,369 189,699 160,687 350,386 1990-1991 2,341 206,408 172,380 378,788 1992-1993 2,297 240,185 204,519 444,704 1994-1995 2,184 248,384 207,106 455,400 1996-1997 2,137 288,702 229,743 518,445 (proposed)         Source: UNESCO Division of Statistics which lost nearly a third of its income from assessed contributions to the regular budget when the United States, Great Britain, and Singapore withdrew from the organization in the mid-1980s. The number of authorized posts in the Division of Statistics peaked at 51 in the 1984-1985 biennium and has declined in almost every biennium since then. The 35 percent decline in staff in the division between the 1984-1985 and 1994-1995 biennia exceeded the decline in UNESCO as a whole, where posts funded through the regular program budget fell by 20 percent over the same period. Although the steepest drops occurred immediately after the United States, Great Britain, and Singapore withdrew, authorized staffing levels continue to fall and are projected to drop by one position (in the Division of Statistics) and 47 (in UNESCO as a whole) in the 1996-1997 biennium5. The declining number of authorized positions has restricted the ability of the Division of Statistics to recruit new personnel. Only 4 professional and 1 clerical employee (all in ST/DEV) have joined UNESCO in the last 10 years. Changes elsewhere in UNESCO have also affected the organization's statistical work. Most notable has been the loss of the professional statistician who, until the mid-1980s, could be found on the staff of each of UNESCO's regional offices. The organization has given priority to education in deciding where to target its dwindling staff. In fact, education statistics dominate the work of 5   Part of the drop in total UNESCO positions is not a loss of personnel, but rather reflects the granting of functional autonomy to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Heritage Centre. The 30 posts in these two units are therefore no longer carried on the regular program budget of UNESCO.

OCR for page 9
WORLDWIDE EDUCATION STATISTICS: Enhancing UNESCO's Role the Division of Statistics. Staff report that two-thirds of the time of ST/ DAT and up to 80 percent of the time of ST/DEV are spent on education data issues. About 65 percent of the total page count of the Statistical Yearbook is allocated to tables dealing specifically with issues of education and literacy.