Everything You Always Wanted to Know About SDG 4 indicators… But Didn’t Know Who or How to Ask!

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

This blog was cross-published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Norrag

New tools from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics chart a course for education stakeholders

One constant dilemma for researchers and statisticians is how to translate intricate technical processes, often emerging from intense scrutiny and discussion, into measures that are comprehensible and actionable for those who were not part of those discussions from the beginning.  

What seems clear to those involved may seem baffling to those who have are coming to it for the first time. This holds true for monitoring progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education, which calls for a quality education for every child, right through primary and secondary education, by 2030.

Making sense of SDG 4 indicators

So much is being demanded of stakeholders across the global education community. They are expected to monitor progress on a range of new indicators related to the quality of education on offer, as well as monitoring school access, enrollment and completion.

A monitoring framework is in place, but those who have not been at the table from the outset could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed by its complexity and intricacy. Where do national statisticians start? Which indicators are ‘compulsory’ when it comes to reporting? Who do they report to? Do they prioritize the data needed for global monitoring of progress, or the local data needed to inform national education priorities?

At the same time, they could also be wary of setting off on the wrong track. With a 2030 deadline for the achievement of SDG 4, there is simply no time for any false starts.

New tools from UIS to help with SDG 4 data

Fortunately, help is at hand. As the custodian UN agency for data on SDG 4, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is mandated to produce not only the data, but also products to help users get the job done, recognizing that different users have very different needs. In this vein, the UIS is launching four easy-to-use statistical publications and data tools for stakeholders.  

  • The Quick Guide to Education Indicators for SDG 4 describes the process of developing and producing the global monitoring indicators while explaining how they can be interpreted and used. This is a hands-on, step-by-step guide for anyone who is working on gathering or analyzing education data.
  • The SDG 4 Data Book: Global Education Indicators 2018 ensures that readers have the latest available data for the global monitoring indicators at their fingertips, and will be regularly updated. 
  • The SDG 4 Data Explorer displays data by country, region or year; by data source; and by sex, location and wealth. It allows users to explore the measures of equality that are crucial for the achievement of SDG 4.
  • The SDG 4 Country Profiles, designed specifically for Member States, present the latest available SDG 4 global indicators in charts and graphs that are easy to understand. For those who need quick facts on specific countries, this is the place to come.
  • SDG 4 Data “Cheat Sheet” presents a snapshot of the concept and data sources used to produce the global monitoring indicators.  

These tools aim to promote a better understanding of the production and use of SDG 4 data among stakeholders. Together, they will allow stakeholders to know who produces the data, how the indicators are developed, where to find the data, and – most importantly – how to use the information.

The Quick Guide to Education Indicators for SDG 4  and the Data Book will be launched today, 11 July 2018, at the first of a series of lunch seminars organized by NORRAG, which aim to give members of the global education community a chance to become more familiar with – and get a head start on – on monitoring SDG 4 targets, whether at the global, regional or national level.

The seminars, for staff from international organizations, NGOs and individuals involved with the SDG Agenda, will share the most recent information about the SDG 4 monitoring framework and agenda, as well as tools and practical examples on finding and producing SDG 4 indicators. This will be a unique opportunity for international organizations, NGOs and individuals to engage with the UIS as the lead organization in developing and disseminating SDG 4 global monitoring indicators. The events will be livestreamed at https://rebrand.ly/sdg4dataweek.

Armed with the knowledge and the tools provided by the UIS, we hope to overcome the dilemma of translating methodologies into tangible action, with stakeholders sure of their direction, and on the right track.

The UIS will publish a series of blogs over the coming months to highlight the key content from these new resources, and invites feedback and commentary from all interested readers.


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