The Education statistics

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The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is the statistical branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The Institute mandate it to produce the data and methodologies to monitor trends at national and international levels. It delivers comparative data for countries at all stages of development to provide a global perspective on education, science and technology, culture, and communication.


Standards and Methodologies

By comparing education data across countries, one learns from the experience of others. It is therefore essential to ensure that data collected nationally and internationally are based on sound methodology and standards. The UIS employs the latest statistical techniques and methodologies, while providing guidance to Member States on the use of international standards.

The UIS maintains the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) [1]and supports countries in their efforts to implement this classification. Rigorous standards and definitions for the UIS education surveys lay the foundations for cross-national data of high quality.

For more information on UIS definitions, see the UIS technical guidelines [2], the UIS on-line glossary on education statistics [3] and the definitions used for the annual education data collection survey [4].

General framework

The term education is taken to comprise all deliberate and systematic activities designed to meet learning needs. This includes what in some countries is referred to as cultural activities or training. Whatever the name given to it, education is understood to involve organized and sustained communication designed to bring about learning, and includes special needs education. It covers both initial education at the early stages of a person’s life prior to entry into the world of work, as well as continuing education throughout a person’s life. Also are covered both formal education provided through public organizations and recognized private bodies and non-formal education provided through non institutionalised bodies.

Educational programme is the basic unit of classification and is organised to accomplish a pre-determined objective or a specified set of educational tasks. ISCED-97 identifies 7 levels numbered 0 to 6 :

0. Pre-primary education – 1. Primary education or first stage of basic education,
2. Lower secondary or second stage of basic education – 3. (Upper) secondary education – 4. Post-secondary non-tertiary education,
5. First stage of tertiary education – 6. Second stage of tertiary education.
General educational programmes are mainly designed to lead participants to a deeper understanding of a subject or group of subjects, with a view to preparing participants for further (additional) education at the same or a higher level.
Vocational or technical educational programmes are mainly designed to acquire the practical skills, know-how and understanding necessary for employment in a particular occupation or trade or class of occupations or trades.

Fields of education are area of content covered by an educational programme, course or module; often referred to as a “subject” or “discipline”, or field of study; they are regrouped into broad categories:

0. General Programmes - 1. Education - 2. Humanities and Arts - 3. Social sciences, business and law - 4. Science
5. Engineering, manufacturing and construction - 6. Agriculture - 7. Health and welfare - 8. Services - Not known or unspecified

Educational institutions have as their sole or main purpose the provision of education; they could be public, government dependent or private independent. In addition to their regulatory function, Ministries are often providers of education services.

Information compiled can be used for assembling statistics on many different aspects of education of interest to policy-makers and other users of education statistics: enrolment and attendance - human or financial resources invested in education - the educational attainment of the population.

Education is also accounted for by other international statistical frameworks like the System of National Accounts (SNA) [5] and by several international classifications (ISCO, ISIC, CPC, COFOG, ICATUS ...) [6]

Statistical operations include the production of statistics derived from administrative routine data system, the processing of administrative census questionnaires addressed to educational institutions whether public or not, the processing of survey questionnaires addressed to individuals or households by Education departments as well as statistical household surveys and censuses conducted by le national statistical office asking for education characteristics [7]. Regarding the 2010 World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses, the United Nations Statistics Division, revised and updated the Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses that include recommendations on Educational characteristics of the population[8].

Pre-Primary, Primary, Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary

Tertiary Education

Educational Finance and Expenditure

Expenditure data correspond to what is reported internationally according to the System of National Accounts (SNA). More details on the definitions, classifications, etc. can be found in the most recent version of the System of National Accounts.

Educational Attainment



  1. See International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)
  2. See the UIS technical guidelines
  3. See the UIS on-line glossary on education statistics
  4. See UIS: Education surveys
  5. See UN: National accounts
  6. International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO); International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC); Central Product Classification (CPC);Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG); International Classification of Activities for Time-Use Statistics (ICATUS)
    See UN: Global inventory of statistical standards
  7. See UIS Guide to the Analysis and Use of Household Survey and Census Education Data
  8. See Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses revision 2

See also

External links

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