Asia-Pacific UN Statistical Training Institute Turns 40

SIAP celebrates four decades of training government statisticians in region

The Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP) has now been helping the countries of the Asia-Pacific region develop the necessary technical skills to gather high-quality statistics for national development planning for 40 years.

To commemorate this anniversary, Dr Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Secretary of the economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) – of which SIAP is a subsidiary - hosted a luncheon for the heads of member State delegations at the ESCAP 66 th Commission session.

"Today, we are here to celebrate the enormous achievements made by SIAP during the last four decades," said Dr Heyzer at the lunch. "Driven by the spirit of friendship and mutual cooperation, the Institute was shaped to work for development of statistical capability and human resources. I am sure the Institute should continue to carry out the task stipulated by its founders."

The SIAP was established in 1970 to mitigate the critical shortage of trained official statisticians in most of the developing countries in Asia and the Pacific as well as in regional and international statistical training facilities. Since then, through SIAP's training programs – which to date has trained about twelve thousand statisticians - many developing countries in the region have improved their technical skills in statistics.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Jirawan Boomperm, Director General of the Thai National Statistical Office and an alumnus of the course. "It was my inspiration towards pushing forward the Thai National Statistical Office to keep pace with the countries with higher level statistical development."

Dr Heyzer discussed how SIAP has in the past four decades developed into a premier statistical training institute and, by providing practice-oriented training to official statisticians, has earned the reputation for contributing to socio-economic development. It now plays a pivotal role in capacity building for official statistics as the training arm of ESCAP, which, as a part of its mission of supporting the member States in their development processes, accords very high priority to human resource development for bridging the existing gaps in official statistics.

"National statistics provide an objective perspective of the changes taking place in national life and allow comparisons between periods of time and geographical areas," said Brian Pink, head of Australian Bureau of Statistics, in his key note address. "SIAP has greatly helped strengthening the official statistical systems of developing countries and disadvantaged economies in transition by imparting practically oriented training of official statisticians."

Ms. Davaasuren Chultemjants, Director of SIAP, briefly discussed the institutes plan on how to meet the growing demands for statistical training, with the limited resources at its disposal.

"With more and more countries realizing the critical importance of statistical information in formulating and monitoring their development policies, the need for training of their official statisticians is being felt more than ever," said Ms. Chultemjants. "While SIAP will fulfill all of its current training needs, we must call upon our member States for greater support in order for the institute to meet the growing needs throughout the region. We must not let the growing recognition for trained statisticians go unanswered."

Mr. Kazuhiko Matsuo, Director for International Training Cooperation, Ministry of International Affairs and Communications, Japan expanded on this idea. "I would like to make a most cordial acknowledgment to the countries in the region having growing ownership awareness to SIAP," Mr. Matsuo said. "The recent increasing cash and in-Kind basis contributions to SIAP by many developing countries in the region represents a good deal of excellent countries' efforts."

Besides the heads of State delegations, the luncheon was attended by eminent official statisticians of the region and other distinguished guests. Some of the alumni of the Institute, who at present hold high official positions in national and international agencies, also attended the lunch.