14 April 2000
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
1-7 June 2000
EMERGING ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL:
(Item 7 (e) of the provisional agenda)
REPORT ON THE STATISTICAL INSTITUTE FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
I. Number of Participants in the Siap Training Programme, April 1999-march 2000
1. The Governing Board, in accordance with article 5.9 of the Statute of the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), hereby submits its annual report to the Commission.
2. The report provides an overview of training activities of the Institute in 1999/2000; developments in the work programme of SIAP; issues calling for action by or brought to the attention of the Commission; the programme of work in 2000/01; the financial status of the Institute; and a summary of the proceedings of the Governing Board at its fifth session, held in Tokyo from 6 to 8 October 1999. The report also includes annexes containing information on participants of courses conducted by SIAP and on cash contributions from member countries.
3. The Institute's training programmes completed since the fifty-fifth session of the Commission and up to March 2000 are indicated in this section.
4. With fellowships provided by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), four training courses were conducted in the Tokyo metropolitan area:
(a) The six-month first Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics (33 participants from 28 countries);
(b) The two-month first Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers (20 participants from 20 countries);
(c) The two-month third Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics, with population census data as the specialized subject (11 participants from 11 countries);
(d) The one-month country-focused Group Training Course in Practical Statistics for Officials of Cambodia (5 participants).
5. In collaboration with the national statistical offices (NSOs) of the region, the following training workshops were completed under the outreach programme. Unless otherwise stated, the air travel and daily subsistence of foreign participants and resource persons in regional or subregional workshops were paid by SIAP.
(a) The three-week Subregional Workshop on Survey Sampling Methods and Applications, with 16 participants from countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) or countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), jointly organized with the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI/Iran) in Tehran. SCI/Iran provided the resource persons, administrative support and lecturing facilities;
(b) The four-week fifth Course/Workshop on Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys was conducted in Taejon with the collaboration of the National Statistical Office of the Republic of Korea (NSO/Korea); 37 participants from 18 countries attended of which 24 were from overseas. Four participants from Viet Nam were sponsored through the national World Bank project. In addition to lecturing facilities and administrative support, NSO/Korea offered accommodation and meals to overseas participants. The Australian Bureau of Statistics also collaborated by providing an official to jointly conduct the lectures.
(c) The General Statistical Office of Viet Nam collaborated with SIAP under the national World Bank project, for the following in Hanoi:
(i) The one-week Country Course on Grossing-up Estimates (30 participants);
(ii) The one-week Country Course on Poverty Measurements (37 participants).
(d) The one-week Regional Training Workshop on Disability Statistics was jointly organized with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (MOS&PI/India) in New Delhi; 30 participants from 13 countries attended. MOS&PI/India provided lecturing facilities, administrative support, and board and lodging to overseas participants and resource persons. Statistics New Zealand, MOS&PI/India, ESCAP, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Japan College of Social Work provided resource persons for the workshop.
6. Under the SIAP/UNDP project RAS/97/065 on establishing and strengthening national capability in data collection/compilation and statistical analysis required in the preparation of national human development reports, two-week country courses on statistics for national human development reports were completed for Bangladesh (30 participants), Mongolia (31 participants), Myanmar (39 participants), Papua New Guinea (31 participants) and Thailand (24 participants). On the data collection aspect of the project, a two-week country course on sampling for household and establishment surveys was conducted in Viet Nam (25 participants).
7. The number of participants by country in SIAP training programmes for the year April 1999 to March 2000 is given in annex I.
8. This section draws attention to major developments in the work programme of SIAP: changes effected in the organization of the Tokyo-based courses, collaboration with NSOs and international agencies in the conduct of training courses under the outreach programme, and finalization of the Institute's long-term programme of work for the period April 2000 to March 2005.
A. Developments in the Tokyo-based courses
9. Some distinct changes are perceptible in relation to previous years. First, the content of the courses has been revised to make them more relevant to the statistical training needs of the region. The six-month course, renamed Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics, consists of three modules on statistical and survey methods, demography and social statistics, and national accounts. The modular structure has enabled the course curriculum for each segment to become more focused, with treatment of relevant topics in greater depth.
10. The curriculum of the Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers includes training on specific software for statistical analysis, tabulation of a large statistical database, and processing of data on population censuses. The United States Bureau of the Census provided support though the services of an expert on integrated microcomputer processing system.
11. The format of the two-month Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics, in which a particular subject is studied intensively each year, has been retained.
12. Second, a comprehensive evaluation framework of the Institute's training programmes is being mapped. Commencing with the first Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics, self-assessments by participants regarding the status of their knowledge of the subjects covered were made at the beginning and end of each module. The feedback from participants is expected to shed light on training needs and enable SIAP to respond correctly by modifying the course content and fine-tuning the emphasis within each course or module to benefit future participants.
13. Information on the training needs of NSOs in the region was collected by SIAP through a survey conducted in May 1999. It was observed that, since countries of the region were at different levels of development, their statistical training requirements varied. It is therefore not possible for SIAP to cater to the precise training needs of each country through its Tokyo-based courses. None the less, the special needs of individual countries, and of groups of countries with similar needs, will be addressed, to the extent that resources permit, through the outreach programme.
B. Developments in the outreach programme
14. The outreach programme is now acquiring diversity in both subject matter coverage and geographical spread. SIAP has emphasized cooperation with NSOs and international agencies for obtaining support, external expertise and local resource persons, in order to maximize the cost-effectiveness of conducting its training activities under the outreach programme. The modality of collaboration has acquired several forms:
(a) SIAP receives continued programme support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and currently conducts courses on statistics for national human development reports;
(b) Regional and subregional workshops are being jointly organized, with funding for the overseas participants borne by SIAP, and the host governments absorb local organizational costs and those related to host country participants. However, some host governments also provide resource persons and provide board and lodging for overseas participants;
(c) The country office of an international organization may collaborate with the concerned NSO to organize country-level workshops in a particular subject;
(d) The Institute has assisted NSOs by providing SIAP faculty support for the conduct of country courses under national projects funded by international organizations;
(e) SIAP has jointly organized a regional course with a member country under the ESCAP third country cooperation programme, with NSO hosting the programme;
(f) SIAP has availed itself of the facility provided by ESCAP under technical cooperation among developing countries to enable officials from neighbouring countries to participate in country courses;
(g) SIAP will organize country courses jointly with NSOs under its institutional funds and a large number of local participants may benefit from these courses.
15. Special attention is being paid to ensure that the selected activities of short duration under the outreach programme provide in-depth training in subject areas of current interest and relate to recent developments in statistical methodology. The topics addressed in the outreach programme generally fall outside the normal curriculum of the Tokyo-based courses and are in demand by NSOs.
C. Long-term programme of work, 2000-2005
16. In accordance with article 5.9 of the Statute of SIAP, the Governing Board is required to consider and adopt the long-term programme of work of the Institute. At its fifth session, in October 1999, the Board approved the "long-term programme and work of the Institute 2000-2005", which is to be implemented in the period April 2000 to March 2005.
17. In preparing the long-term programme, several discussions were held with the Government of Japan. The paper provides the basis for the cash and in-kind contribution of the Government of Japan to carry out the work as the host government of the Institute. It takes into account the relevant and applicable laws and regulations of the Government of Japan and is in accordance with its annual budgetary appropriations. It also provides details of the conditions and content of the training programmes to be conducted at SIAP and those to be undertaken in the outreach programme.
18. First, the Commission's attention is drawn to the positive outcomes of the implementation of the new strategies and initiatives of SIAP. One discernable trend is that collaboration between SIAP and NSOs in the organization of regional and subregional activities of SIAP has intensified. The number of courses held and the number of officials participating have risen, while the support of NSOs has also become more substantive in that the NSO contribution has often been much more than the mere provision of lecturing facilities. Contributions by NSOs have taken various forms as indicated in paragraph 14 above. Increased collaboration with NSOs has enabled SIAP funds to be utilized more cost-effectively and the number of outreach activities implemented has increased significantly.
19. Stronger interlinkages have resulted in several NSOs offering SIAP a variety of forms of collaboration for the organization of statistical training activities of interest to their countries. Some requests are for regional activities in which the host country could benefit by having a larger number of statisticians trained. NSOs have also requested country courses in which the host country would absorb the travel-related costs of the resource persons conducting the training activity. NSOs have also requested SIAP to accept additional participants in regional courses organized by the Institute, and the concerned NSOs have offered to absorb the costs of these additional participants.
20. Greater collaboration between SIAP and NSOs in the conduct of regional activities has another important outcome. Just as Tokyo-based courses enable participants to acquire a knowledge of the statistical system of Japan, participants in a regional or subregional course acquire understanding of the statistical system of the host country. Better collaboration between interested NSOs on the basis of personal contacts developed through such interchange is also possible.
21. Second, in accordance with the Statute of SIAP, the five-year term of the present (and first) Governing Board of SIAP will end, and the election of a new Governing Board will be held, during the current ESCAP session. In thanking the outgoing members, the Commission may wish to request them to continue providing SIAP with their strong support.
22. Third, the Commission's attention is drawn to the fact that the Governing Board has approved the "Long-term programme of work of SIAP 2000-2005", which provides details of the conditions and content of the training programme of SIAP over that period.
23. Fourth, members and associate members may wish to indicate to SIAP their proposals, if any, of collaboration on a cost-sharing basis in implementing the outreach programme, particularly on subject matters of their interest.
24. Fifth, the Commission is informed that, on 29 November 1999, SIAP moved to its new office premises in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture. The new venue, which is within the Tokyo metropolitan area, is more spacious and has modern amenities. The teaching facilities and computer system have also been upgraded.
25. Sixth, in the implementation of the SIAP work programme, priority is accorded to the training needs of the least developed and landlocked countries, the island developing countries and the disadvantaged economies in transition. In this regard, the Commission may wish to inform those developing countries and areas of the ESCAP region desiring to participate in the Tokyo-based training courses that they should register with the foreign affairs authorities of the respective countries their interest in availing themselves of fellowships provided by JICA for these courses.
26. Seventh, the Commission may wish to discuss financial matters relating to the Institute, including that of cash contributions to SIAP by members and associate members of ESCAP. The host government, Japan, continues to provide the bulk of the financial support required to operate the Institute and implement its work programme. Moreover, it provides an in-kind contribution for fellowships for Tokyo-based courses through JICA, and administrative and infrastructural support to SIAP from the Management and Coordination Agency (MCA/Japan). Although more than 20 countries have now contributed financial support to SIAP, with the Federated States of Micronesia contributing for the first time in 1999, the overall cash contributions from other members and associate members of ESCAP have declined in the last two years. As emphasized at the fifty-fifth Commission session, this reflects an imbalance, and increased cash contributions from other members and associate members are encouraged.
27. Lastly, the Commission may wish to urge those countries that have not yet done so to make contributions to SIAP. Members which have made commitments but have not cleared their dues could be requested to do so. In addition, those countries which are not meeting the minimum amounts as indicated in the Commission's guidelines may be urged to increase their contributions, particularly if they have been receiving assistance from SIAP on a sustained basis. This is important as the training responsibilities of SIAP have increased owing to continued growing demand for statistical training in the region.
28. The Governing Board adopted the following programme of work for 2000/01:
Courses in the Tokyo metropolitan area
(i) Second six-month Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics, 10 April- 22 September 2000;
(ii) Fourth two-month Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics, 16 October-15 December 2000 (with social statistics as the specialized subject);
(iii) Second two-month Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers, tentatively January-March 2001.
The above courses are to be finalized on the basis of the relevant and applicable laws and regulations of the Government of Japan, and in accordance with its annual budgetary appropriations for fiscal year 2000 within the long-term phase 2000-2005.
Supported by sponsoring agencies, SIAP will continue to facilitate individual training courses, on request from NSOs, at the Institute's premises, of their staff in specialized areas.
With higher targets set for the outreach programme, SIAP seeks greater cooperation from NSOs and relevant international organizations for the implementation of training activities, along with the support of experts as resource personnel, especially for the following regional, subregional and country courses for 2000/01:
(i) Country Course on Data Analysis and Forecasting with Particular Reference to Agricultural Production, Lahore, Pakistan, April 2000;
(ii) Sixth Course/Workshop on Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys, Jakarta, November/December 2000;
(iii) Seminar on Evolution of Official Statistics and Its Impact on Management and Training in National Statistical Offices, Tokyo, 28 August 2000;
(iv) Two subregional courses for member countries of ECO and CIS to be conducted in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey;
(v) A subregional course on a topic of interest to the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations;
(vi) A subregional workshop on economic accounts for agriculture for member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);
(vii) A country course on the application of the integrated microcomputer processing system for Sri Lanka;
(viii) A regional workshop on database development and management;
(ix) Regional Workshop on Data Management and Dissemination, Taejon, Republic of Korea, September 2000;
(x) A subregional workshop on disability statistics for East and South-East Asian countries;
(xi) A subregional course on sample design and applications for the Pacific island countries;
(xii) Training activities under SIAP/UNDP project RAS/97/065 comprising a few country courses on statistics for national human development reports and a subregional workshop for South-East Asia.
Further collaboration will be pursued for the conduct of training in areas of statistics which are of special interest to countries and for which SIAP receives a formal request.
29. A total of US$2,038,573 in cash contributions, including pledges at the fifty-fifth Commission session, were made for 1999/2000. The contribution from Japan continues to constitute the bulk of the overall cash contributions. The latest details of contributions by country or area are given in annex II.
30. Annex III indicates the actual revenue and expenditure for the year 1998/99 (ending March 1999), and anticipated revenue and expenditure for 1999/2000 (ending March 2000) under the institutional budget.
31. The institutional budget relating to 1998/99 indicates a revenue surplus of about US$545,200. However, the institutional budget relating to 1999/2000 (estimates for February and March 2000) indicates that the revenue surplus has shrunk to US$379,700. The surplus in 1999/2000 is attributed mainly to five factors: (a) collaboration by NSOs in organizing the regular annual course/workshop in sample design for household and establishment surveys, which has led to a reduction in expenditure by the Institute; (b) vacancies in the staffing situation over several months pending the completion of the recruitment process to the position of lecturer/statistician; (c) a generally weaker yen in the early part of 1999/2000, which translated into lower local expenditure as well as reduced costs of international staff; (d) an overall effort to conserve resources and put the current finances of the Institute in a sound position; and (e) the pace of outreach activities being influenced by the gestation period for establishing collaboration and finalizing the formal arrangements. Similar reasons can also be cited for the surplus, albeit higher, in the budget for 1998/99.
32. These surpluses do not imply that the financial situation of SIAP is no longer a cause for concern. What they do ensure is, first, that the Institute's outreach programme may be expanded and planned in advance as is evident from the work programme for 2000/01; second, the finances of the Institute can better withstand the adverse impact of the appreciation of the yen relative to the US dollar.
33. The Governing Board of SIAP held its fifth session in Tokyo from 6 to 8 October 1999. The agenda included the report of the Director of SIAP, a report each on training needs and on training activities in official statistics in the region, and documents on the evaluation framework on training activities of SIAP, the programme of work for 2000/01, and the "Long-term programme of work of SIAP 2000-2005".
34. The session was attended by representatives of the following members of the Governing Board: Australia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Representatives of ESCAP attended the session. Representatives of Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Pakistan, Philippines and Uzbekistan attended the session as observers. Representatives of FAO, International Labour Organization, United Nations Children's Fund, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community attended as observers. The Chairperson of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics also attended. The Board elected Mr Tim Skinner Australia) Chairperson and Mr Masahiro Horie (Japan) Vice-Chairperson.
A. Report of the Director of SIAP
35. The Director's report provided an overview of the training activities of the Institute, and discussed the impact of important developments with regard to the work programme of SIAP. The Governing Board placed on record its appreciation of the work by the management and staff of SIAP. It recognized the significant increase in the number of courses conducted as well as the diversity of subjects addressed by the Institute's training programme, and emphasized that the introduction of new subject areas in its training activities would facilitate the capability-building of NSOs in the region. The Board endorsed the SIAP strategy of collaborating with NSOs and relevant international organizations and agencies in implementing its training programme. It commended SIAP for organizing courses on specialized subjects where the feedback from participating NSOs was positive, and agreed that such useful activities should be continued.
36. The Governing Board noted that the six-month Tokyo-based modular course provided participants with a good overview of official statistics, but urged that discussions on the issue of flexibility for NSOs be pursued, including the possibility of joining only selected modules.
37. Concerning statistical computing courses for trainers, the Board suggested that SIAP, as a rule, should exercise caution in selecting any new software technology on whose application training was provided. The Board was assured that training was focused on the concepts and functional aspects of selected software packages, and that SIAP had a neutral stance that did not promote the use of any particular software.
38. The Board recognized that, in the data analysis and interpretation course, special focus should be on a subject for which data was available, to allow training in analysis and forecasting. The Board identified social statistics on grounds of data availability, and because social statistics were vital for monitoring the progress in attaining social development objectives set at the various ministerial conferences. Other suggestions included environment statistics and labour force statistics. In dealing with those special themes, the Board noted that small-area statistics and integration of statistics across different fields could also be addressed.
39. The Governing Board endorsed the approach of the SIAP/UNDP project on statistics for national human development reports to extend the course curriculum well beyond the calculation of the Human Development Index and other related indicators. The Board agreed that the programme was a useful vehicle to provide training in a wide range of social statistics, and suggested that, since some controversy surrounded the compilation of the Human Development Index, SIAP should confine its role to establishing and strengthening national capabilities in data collection, data compilation and statistical analysis for the national human development reports.
40. The Board suggested that national statistical training institutes could participate in SIAP joint activities through the auspices of the concerned NSO by contributing training facilities and resource persons. SIAP could also explore possibilities of collaboration with regional non-governmental international organizations, such as the International Association for Official Statistics.
B. Other documentation
35. On training needs in official statistics, the Governing Board agreed that SIAP had an important role to play in statistical training in the region and that its work programme should not be reduced. It noted that the results of the SIAP survey had provided a good reference point for determining its work programme and suggested that a few areas of statistics, such as tourism and classifications could become important in future.
36. The Board welcomed the diversification of the SIAP work programme and the shift in emphasis from general to specialized training, but advised a step-by-step approach in view of the training needs of countries at relatively lower levels of statistical development. The Board agreed that specialized courses offered significant learning opportunities.
37. On training activities in the region, the Governing Board observed that the results of the survey could be useful in firming up the SIAP work programme, and that it should be conducted regularly. The Board stressed that, since the statistical training demands of NSOs in the region were high, the SIAP programme should not be curtailed simply because another statistical training institution in the region had a similar training programme.
38. The Board agreed that SIAP should keep abreast of developments in training techniques in other organizations and suggested that SIAP should exploit opportunities of collaboration wherever feasible.
39. On the evaluation framework developed by SIAP based on inputs by individual participants, the Board noted that long-term assessment of the benefit to participants from training at SIAP might be difficult to evaluate. The Board decided that the evaluation exercise was initially on a trial basis, and it could be reviewed later. The Board deliberated on the need also to evaluate the quality of SIAP training, including curriculum, course materials and delivery by the faculty. It agreed that teaching quality should continue to be evaluated by the management and participants.
40. Regarding the 1993 System of National Accounts, the Board suggested an emphasis on training in data collection methods, with a specialized focus on particular accounts, and new areas related to the 1993 SNA and balance of payments, including foreign direct investment, international investment position and trade in services, were identified. The Board suggested that SIAP should conduct discussions with other related international organizations to ensure complementarity in training.
41. The Board recognized the importance of distance learning which would be introduced in the long-term work programme of SIAP, and advised that the Institute could seek the cooperation of Eurostat for the proposed activity.
48. The Commission may wish to acknowledge with appreciation the following:
(a) The host government, Japan, for its continuing and generous support to SIAP, both in cash and in kind, including the award of JICA fellowships for the Tokyo-based group training courses;
(b) The contributing members and associate members in the region for their demonstrated and sustained interest in SIAP;
(c) Other agencies of the United Nations and international organizations, particularly ESCAP, FAO, WHO and the World Bank, for collaboration with SIAP in the implementation of its training activities.
49. The Commission may wish to express gratitude to UNDP for its programme support to SIAP.
50. The Commission may wish to express thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, MOS&PI/India, SCI/Iran, MCA/Japan, Statistics New Zealand, and the United States Bureau of the Census for providing resource support in specific subjects at SIAP training activities through their experts. The Commission may wish to acknowledge the hosting of regional and subregional courses by SCI/Iran, NSO/Korea and MOS&PI/India. The Commission may wish to thank NSO/Korea and MOS&PI/India for generously providing accommodation and board for the overseas participants at the regional training activity in their countries.
51. The Commission may wish to thank the NSOs of Bangladesh, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Viet Nam for cooperation in country courses.
52. The Commission may wish to place on record its gratitude and appreciation to the first Governing Board of SIAP for providing valuable guidance and support in the planning and implementation of the work programme of the Institute during its term of office.
A - Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics
B - Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers
C - Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics
D - Country-focused Group Training Course in Practical Statistics for Officials of Cambodia
E - Country course
F - Regional course
Note: Hong Kong, China and Thailand have contributed US$30,000 and US$20,000
respectively for 2000.
a/ Pledged at the session of the Commission.
b/ Partial payment of US$2,457 received.
c/ Partial payment of US$14,985 received.
(Thousands of US dollars)
a/ Covering the period April 1998 to March 1999.
b/ Covering the period April 1999 to March 2000
c/ Including reimbursement by ESCAP.