UNESCO Institute for Statistics

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The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)[1] is the statistical office of UNESCO and is the primary UN depository for cross-nationally comparable statistics on education, science and technology, culture, and communication covering more than 200 countries and territories.

The UIS was established in 1999. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, it was created to improve UNESCO's statistical programme and to develop and deliver the timely, accurate and policy-relevant statistics needed in today’s increasingly complex and rapidly changing social, political and economic environments.[2]

The Institute serves Member states of UNESCO, as well as inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, research institutes, universities and citizens interested in high-quality data.

The UIS is the primary source of education, literacy and science data for leading publications and databases, such as: EFA Global Monitoring Report, World Development Indicators and World Development Report (World Bank), Human Development Report (UNDP), State of the World’s Children (UNICEF), among others.

Sex-disaggregated indicators are systematically integrated into all UIS data collections in order to gain a global perspective on gender equality in education, science, culture and communication.


  • Collecting, processing, verifying, analysing and disseminating high-quality, relevant, cross-nationally comparable data about education, science, culture, and communication;
  • Developing and maintaining appropriate methodologies and standards that reflect the challenges faced by countries at all stages of development;
  • Reinforcing the capacities of national statistical offices and line ministries to produce and use high-quality statistics;
  • Applying the highest professional standards which entail transparency, accountability and the most efficient use of resources;
  • Responding to the statistical needs of stakeholders, while providing access to UIS data to a wide range of users; and
  • Providing open access to UIS data and other products to different types of users, such as governments, international and non-governmental organizations, foundations, researchers, journalists and the wider public.

Areas of work[edit]

Programme highlights[edit]

  • Largest repository of education data: The UIS is the repository of the world's most comprehensive education database. More than 200 countries and territories participate in the UIS annual education survey, which is the basis for calculating a wide range of indicators – from female enrolment in primary education to the mobility of higher education students. The UIS is the official data source for Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education 2030.
  • Technical Co-operation Group for SDG 4 – Education 2030 builds consensus on the SDG 4 measurement agenda and provides the opportunity for Member States, multilateral agencies and civil society groups to make recommendations to the UIS, which is responsible for coordinating the technical work needed to define and implement the global and thematic indicators.
  • Global Alliance to Monitor Learning provides concrete solutions to develop new indicators and set standards in learning assessment, aiming to produce the first internationally comparable measures of learning for children, youth and adults. It brings together technical experts from countries, partner agencies, assessment organizations, donors and civil society groups from around the world.
  • Inter-Agency Group on Education Inequality Indicators sets the standards across the UN system to report household survey data and develop new measures of equity.
  • International Observatory on Equity and Inclusion in Education fosters and develops the methodologies, guidelines and research needed to build a global repository of data and standards to measure equity in education.
  • ISCED classification: The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)[3] facilitates comparisons of education statistics and indicators across countries on the basis of uniform and internationally agreed definitions.
  • Education finance: The Institute works closely with national statisticians and partners to improve the collection, analysis and use of finance indicators, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This information is critical for managing education systems, especially in the context of budget constraints.
  • Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: UNICEF and the UIS are working together to help countries reduce the number of out-of-school children. The initiative is designed to improve the data and analysis on out-of-school children in order to better identify the factors limiting their opportunities to pursue education; and analyse existing interventions, identify barriers and develop realistic strategies to increase enrolment and sustain attendance rates.
  • Statistics on teachers: The UIS annually provides projections on the number of teachers required to achieve Education for All goals by 2015. The Institute also produces a range of indicators on the gender, qualifications and working conditions of teachers around the world.
  • Science, technology and innovation (STI) statistics: The UIS tracks the human and financial investments in research and development worldwide through its biennial R&D survey, which will be complemented by a new survey on innovation. The Institute also works with national statisticians to ensure that international surveys accurately reflect the contexts shaping STI in developing and middle-income countries.
  • Global survey on cultural employment: By working closely with countries around the world, the Institute is producing a unique set of internationally comparable indicators that countries can use to answer key questions, such as: What is the size of the cultural labour force and what kinds of working conditions do these people face? What is the social status of women in cultural employment?

UIS Open Data[edit]

The UIS is fully committed to the principles of open data. All data are freely available in different formats to meet the needs of different groups of users.

Designed for expert users, the UIS database is an on-line resource (http://stats.uis.unesco.org) that provides country profiles, indicators and data series in UNESCO’s fields of competence, tools to build statistical tables, related documentation, and metadata. Developers and researchers can also use an API [4] to download UIS data in machine-readable formats.

General users can explore the data through a series of indicator pages that present charts and tables that can easily be customized, shared and downloaded.

The UIS also has a Data Visualisation Gallery, featuring interactive products on key issues, such as women in science, children out of school and girls’ education in Africa.

Capacity building[edit]

The Institute works with national statisticians and policymakers to improve data quality by providing training, diagnostic tools as well as standards and guidelines on the collection, analysis and use of statistical information. These services take many forms – from regional training workshops to on-site technical assistance projects through the UIS network of statistical advisors in the field.

Research and analysis[edit]

The UIS provides analytical services in a number of critical policy areas, such as exclusion from education, education quality, education finance, investments in research and development, etc.


The UIS publishes statistical and analytical reports, in addition to methodological guides and international classifications. The Institute’s flagship publication, the Sustainable Development Data Digest,[5] is available in several UN languages.

The Institute also produces a series of eAtlases, using interactive maps and charts to present the data on key issues, such as Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education 2030, gender inequality in education, literacy, teachers and global trends in R&D.


As an autonomous organization, the UIS has its own Governing Board that consists of 12 experts from different regions and organizational backgrounds. The Board’s primary tasks are to ensure the independence of the Institute, define UIS policy and its broad functions, as well as to approve its programme and budget. In addition, the Board monitors, evaluates and advises on the Institute’s operations.

Contact information[edit]

Mailing address C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville Montreal, Quebec H3C 2B1 Canada

Street address 5255 avenue Decelles, 7th floor Montreal, Quebec H3T 2B1 Canada


  1. ^ [1] UNESCO Institute for Statistics website.
  2. ^ [2] UIS Basic Texts, Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  3. ^ [3] International Standard Classification of Education 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  4. ^ [4] UIS API data portal.
  5. ^ [5] Sustainable Development Data Digest: Laying the Foundation to Measure Sustainable Development Goal 4. Retrieved February 3, 2017.

External links[edit]