Working Group on Education Statistics (WGES)

To formulate policy with regard to access, coverage, equity, effi ciency, quality, relevance and other aspects of education system, decision-makers need quantitative information on the impact of past decisions, the present levels of demand and supply, and the potential impact of alternative options. Dr Eddah Gachukia, a leading female African educationist asked during the MINEDAF Conference in Johannesburg in 1996, “Without statistics, how can we assess the past, manage the present, and plan for the future?” Education statistics have previously been neglected in many sub-Saharan African countries. The demand for information and education statistics continues to increase in the sub-Saharan African region although investments in building information management capacity have not grown correspondingly. Countries are now able to collect and process data, and produce analytical reports. The current challenge against the backdrop of economic recession, budget and staff cuts is the institutionalisation of an effective education management information system. 

What is the Working Group on Education Statistics?

The Working Group on Education Statistics (WGES) was formed in 1989 in response to the growing awareness among African policy-makers that well-managed and responsive statistical information services are essential to viable policy formulation and effi cient investments in education. The WGES is based on a tripartite cooperation at both international and national levels between African countries, technical and funding agencies. The leadership of the WGES is currently with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Coordination is by the WGES Secretariat, located at the UNESCO Harare offi ce, which also functions as a node for the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) regions. The West and Central African (WCA) regions are served by the Dakar node, located at the UNESCO offi ce in Dakar. Special teams at the two nodes manage the implementation of WGES activities through the NESIS Programme, under the direction of the WGES Coordinator based in Harare and the NESIS Coordinator in Dakar. Key members of the group include bilateral agencies (the Netherlands, Sweden, France, United States, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom), multilateral agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation) and African member countries.

What are the objectives of the Working Group?

In embracing the strategic principles of countr y leadership, ownership, programme relevance based on nationally identifi ed needs and policy-anchored priorities, and self-sustainable development through the indigenous regenerative process of organizational staff development, the Working Group’s main objective is to help develop sustainable institutional capacity in sub-Saharan African countries. WGES thus aims at developing both the technical and human resources aspects of national educationstatistical information systems. Specifi c objectives include: developing and applying methodology for systematic diagnosis, formulating feasible national action plans, developing analytical capacity, promoting intra-country coherence and synergy, and developing a network of experts and institutions for collaborative training and mutual assistance. The WGES program has three main components: (a) development of modules for effective technical assistance, training and national implementation (NESIS); (b) forum for exchange of experiences and innovations; and (c) clearing-house services for inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and for facilitating network building among experts working with education statistics in Africa.

The NESIS Program

The National Education Statistical Information Systems (NESIS) program is the principal capacity building component of the WGES. Initiated in 1991, NESIS is advised and co-fi nanced by WGES members. It aims to develop the tools necessary to obtain the reliable facts and fi gures on which effective policy formulation and education management are based. Its principal objective is to develop sustainable national information systems that meet users’ needs. At the national level, NESIS aims at reinforcing factors required in producing statistical information: manpower and skills; administrative organization; procedures and task management; materials; facilities and logistical support and funding. NESIS coordinates its activities with other ADEA working groups and continues to act as a catalyst in improving information processing through the provision of support services in the following activity areas:

  • Development of technical and training modules in collaboration with African experts,
  • Technical assistance to national implementation in collaboration with agencies,
  • Application of modules for regional priority issues, such as EFA and HIV/Aids,
  • Internet/Web facilities for Ministries of Education’s statistical publications and training,
  • Publications and information services. 

In line with the goals of the WGES’ Medium Term Development Plan for 2008-2012, current focus is on new project areas that include professional support for the implementation of programme for the Second Decade for Education in Africa by facilitating the AU’s priority theme of EMIS, strengthening regional and continental institutions of educational planning and statistics by providing ODL course material on planning and related areas; and facilitating country support and collaboration around key themes including Statistics and Information Systems, Early Childhood Development, Non Formal Education and School Record Management Systems.