UNESCO Institute for Statistics

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The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) 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, 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.[1]

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.

Gender-based indicators are systematically integrated into all UIS data collections in order to monitor trends in women’s and girls’ education, literacy and the role of women in science.


  • Collecting, producing and analysing relevant, cross-nationally comparable data on UNESCO’s fields of competence;
  • 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; and
  • Responding to the statistical needs of stakeholders, while providing access to UIS data to a wide range of users.

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 the education-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All (EFA).
  • ISCED classification: The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 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.
  • Regional indicator programmes: These programmes are designed to respond to the monitoring frameworks and statistical needs of major organizations. To monitor education goals in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the UIS helps to provide national data on basic services in schools, such as the provision of potable water and toilet facilities for girls.
  • 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.
  • Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP): LAMP measures a full range of reading and numeracy skills among youth and adults living in countries at all stages of development. The methodology and instruments are based on the latest findings in educational assessment and cognitive science. This is the only assessment of its kind to have been validated in ten languages belonging to six families in order to produce data which can be compared across time, countries and cultures.
  • Observatory of Learning Outcomes (OLO): The Observatory monitors global trends in student achievement and helps governments make informed decisions concerning international assessment studies. To this end, the Observatory and the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution have convened a Learning Metrics Task Force that is investigating the feasibility of identifying common learning goals to improve the measurement of learning opportunities and outcomes for children and youth.
  • 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.
  • Monitoring information societies: Rapid advances in technology are changing the way information is produced and used. The UIS measures key issues through its surveys on print, broadcast and digital media, as well as the use of information and communication technologies in education.
  • A framework for cultural statistics: Accurate, comparable data are needed to better measure the impact and relevance of cultural policies and initiatives. Developed by the UIS, the UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics provides guidelines and definitions for statistical measurement purposes. It will serve as the basis for a new global data collection on employment in the culture sector.

UIS Data Centre[edit]

The Data Centre 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.

Capacity building[edit]

The Institute works with statisticians and policymakers to improve data quality by providing training and diagnostic studies on the collection, analysis and use of statistical information. These services take many forms – from regional 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, including exclusion from education, education quality, higher education and student mobility, as well as investments in research and development. The Institute also collaborates with researchers who wish to conduct policy analysis based on UIS data.


The UIS publishes statistical and analytical reports, in addition to methodological guides and international classifications. The Institute’s flagship publication, the Global Education Digest, is available in several UN languages.

In 2012, the UIS released the World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education in English and French.


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


External links[edit]