20 April 2022 0 The Pacific’s efforts to improve the ability to report on education finance data was strengthened through a training programme conducted for in-country officers responsible for managing Education Statistics across the region. The programme was conducted by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) in partnership with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). These data workshops are critical for the Pacific island countries (PICs) as they not only help national leaders to make informed decisions, but also help them meet their reporting obligations to the global survey on education finance data through the Pacific Regional Education Framework and UIS. Tawaqa Naisoro, EQAP’s Education Data Team Leader, highlighted that during the December 2021 training session, positive responses from regional participants were collected, focussing on tracking national education finance data. This data is one of three questionnaires that UIS aims to collect from all 15 countries on an annual basis. The training strengthened education ministries/departments by building essential statistical capacity in providing support to track education spending at all levels and to compile the finance data required to fulfill global and regional reporting commitments. “This training was in response to the lack of statistical expertise identified in the region that needs to be strengthened to allow availability of good quality data and improvements in identifying core spending indicators that will help national education leaders to make informed decisions,” Naisoro explained. Naisoro added that continuous support would be given to help Pacific education systems to collect and process their finance data by integrating the data into their respective Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS). “The training gave participants a fresh mindset or perception of finance data, and we look forward to them using that capacity to fill and submit finance data for 2022,” he said. Palau’s education statistician Masubed Tkel said it was a relief to finally receive the assistance needed to navigate this unfamiliar ground. Tkel, being appointed as the lead statistician in late 2021, said he was not fully aware of the finance data requirement until he received the invitation to the training. “Now we have a better understanding of how to source other data to help us fill the finance data gaps that we presently have,” he said. Similarly, Tuvalu’s education statistician Sina Tane was grateful for the workshop and looked forward to working with colleagues from the budget and planning department with the aim of submitting the national education finance data early this year. Fiji’s Ministry of Education’s finance manager Dinesh Kumar stressed that the workshop provided a change in perspective on education finance data and helped in understanding the regional and global relevance of the information. Education finance data is required by countries to help make good decisions that promote education equity and quality, as well as to fulfill national commitments to monitoring the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF), and the SDG4 of the Education 2030 Agenda. One commitment under the 2030 Agenda is for countries to progressively allocate at least 4-6 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to education. The tracking of education finance data will assist countries and the UIS to determine how well each member is faring on this commitment. The December event was the third in a series of workshops supported by the Australian Government.