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The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is pleased to announce its annual Spring Data Refresh to fill gaps and increase coverage for SDG indicators for education; research and development (R&D); and culture and natural heritage. All data are available in our data browser. Education data for SDG 4 are also available on our SDG 4 Data Explorer. Please consult the background information documents for education, culture, and R&D for all details relating to this Data Refresh.

As the work on the September 2023 education Data Release is ongoing, countries are encouraged to complete the 2023 Survey of Formal Education by 31 March 2023, to ensure inclusion of the most recent data.

The UIS is publishing new or updated administrative data for 34 countries for six global SDG 4 indicators, 15 thematic indicators and 14 ‘other relevant policy indicators’ (ORPI). New household survey data available today include updates for four global SDG 4 indicators, three thematic indicators, and three ORPI, across multiple years.  

This Data Refresh includes new disaggregations by age for Indicator 4.3.1, defined as the participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex. This indicator is calculated from household survey data compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). While the UIS database already has this indicator for the 15-64 age group, the disaggregation now includes specific ranges of: 15-24 years, 25-54 years, and 55-64 years. 

The time series for rural-urban disaggregated data for Indicator 4.4.3, the youth/adult educational attainment rate, have been extended from 2000 to 2010. This release builds on work from last year in which urban-rural disaggregation for 2010 to 2021 were added to the database.

Changes in reporting: Following the discussion at the 9th annual meeting in November 2022, the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 indicators (TCG) decided to discontinue the publication of indicators 4.6.3 (Participation rate of illiterate youth/adults in literacy programmes) and 4.7.6 (Extent to which national education policies and education sector plans recognize a breadth of skills that needs to be enhanced in national education systems). These two indicators were consequently not included in this Data Refresh.

Regional averages for out-of-school children

The UIS is publishing regional averages on out-of-school children in its SDG 4 Data Explorer, following approval of an innovative methodology by the TCG. Country estimates and regional aggregates are also available on the VIEW website. In September, UNESCO shared the latest data on the number of out-of-school children and youth, offering a fresh look at available evidence. Those  estimates by the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report and the UIS are the result of a new and improved way of measuring which combines administrative data with information coming from surveys and censuses. By using multiple data sources, gaps are filled, data trends are smoothed, and a more consistent time series can be extracted.  This way of measuring had been applied to flagship health indicators, such as maternal and infant mortality rates, but only recently have such approaches been applied to education, marking a significant improvement to the robustness of the estimates.

Data on government investment

New data for Indicator 1.a.2 which tracks government investment in health, social protection, and education, are included in this Data Refresh. From now on, reporting for this indicator will follow the decision of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). The UIS and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will be co-custodians of Indicator 1.a.2 for education, while the IMF will remain sole custodian for health and social protection. The UIS data sources for the education component of this indicator are Questionnaire B, the UOE expenditure questionnaire, and the new dynamic templates mined with national data. Currently, the UIS database includes data on Indicator 1.a.2 for 119 countries and the IMF provides data for 70 countries, for data available since 2000. As instructed by the IAEG-SDG in October 2022, IMF data will be considered first, when they exist for a given country; when IMF data are not available, but the education spending data from UNESCO are available, these education spending data will be used.

Adding ISCED mappings of country education systems

The UIS has recently published new mappings for seven countries according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). ISCED diagrams of the mappings will be published for the September 2023 education data release. ISCED categorizes education systems in a collaborative process between the UIS and UNESCO Member States. Through ISCED, national education programmes are mapped according to agreed standards for programmes and related qualifications. These mappings are essential to the cross-national comparability of education statistics for SDG 4 as they enable analysts to understand the structure of each national education system and thus more accurately interpret education data.

Updated country-level data for SDG 9.5 on R&D

This release includes a new time series data for SDG 9.5 for 39 countries for reference year 2021 (or latest available year). Data are based on the UIS R&D Statistics Survey and the Ibero-American Network of Science and Technology Indicators. The UIS is also releasing data on the share of women researchers as a percentage of total researchers. The UIS is the official data source for SDG Target 9.5, which calls on countries to encourage innovation and substantially increase the number of researchers, as well as public and private spending on R&D. UIS data on women in science are also used for cross-cutting themes related to SDG 5 on gender equality.

New data for SDG 11.4.1 on culture and natural heritage

New national data are available for SDG 11.4.1 and its disaggregation for the reference year 2021 (or latest available). Data are collected from the UIS Survey of Expenditure on Cultural and Natural Heritage. Public expenditure on heritage offers a greater coverage, with data from all SDG regions. Despite gains in the number of available countries, the total number of available countries reporting data is around 60, so calculations of regional aggregates are not yet possible. To support countries in monitoring Target 11.4, the UIS will continue providing technical assistance, documentation while designing new ways to support data reporting.