Top statisticians at UN meeting endorse shift towards core skills-based training in the Asia-Pacific region

Top statisticians have endorsed a long-term plan by a United Nations regional institution to shift to a core skills framework for structuring its training programme in Asia and the Pacific.

The decision came at the Fifth Session of the Governing Council of the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), held from 16 to 17 November in Phuket, Thailand. SIAP is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, recognized in her opening statement the important role that SIAP plays in Asia and the Pacific by providing training in practical skills and contributing to national statistical capacity building in region.

In her remarks, delivered by Haishan Fu, Director of ESCAP’s Statistics Division, Dr. Heyzer also urged the Governing Council to assist SIAP to become an even stronger and more effective organization by advising the Institute on its strategic direction, programme structure, resource mobilization and management. She asked the Governing Council Members to review and comment on the Institute’s long-term work plan, including efforts by SIAP to shift towards a “core skills framework” for structuring its training programme.

The Governing Council Members endorsed in principle the long-term plan of the Institute for the academic years 2010 to 2014. The long-term plan was developed on the basis of the proposed strategic framework approved by the Governing Council last year during its Fourth Session and covers such key subjects as the strategic direction, programme structure, resource mobilization and management of SIAP. The long-term plan will permit SIAP to become a stronger and more effective organization which in turn will lead to stronger national statistical capacity and improved official statistics in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Governing Council Members recognized the importance of SIAP in adopting a core skills based training approach to assist ESCAP Member States to improve the performance of National Statistical Systems. Under the proposed approach the training programmes offered by the Institute will be structured within a framework of skills development, which will enable National Statistical Offices and statisticians in government service to identify what is needed for their capacity development over a period of several years. The approach will also enable SIAP to deliver a suite of training courses across the whole range of skills, to increase its focus on skills development and provide appropriate training courses for government officials and statisticians taking into account the varying level of knowledge and skills of the participants.

The Governing Council Members also supported SIAP’s efforts to extend its distance training and e-learning courses by taking advantage of advanced communication technology, and stressed the importance of placing more emphasis on the training of trainers to support national statistical offices in building sustainable capacity.

Finally, the Governing Council Members stressed the need for continuing support of the Institute by the Member States and in particular during 2010, which marks the Institute’s 40th anniversary.

The Thai National Statistical Office hosted the session, which was attended by all Governing Council Members, including SIAP’s host country Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Republic of Korea and Thailand, representatives of ESCAP as well as the Director of SIAP, who serves as Secretary of the Council. Seven representatives of Governments that are not members of the Council and five observers from United Nations entities and international bodies also attended the meeting.

Background

SIAP was established in May 1970 by ESCAP as a centre for statistical training for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Institute aims to strengthen their ability to collect, analyze and disseminate statistics as well as to produce timely and high-quality statistics that can be used for economic and social development planning, and to assist those developing countries in establishing or strengthening their statistical training capability and other related activities.