30 November 2021 0 Hello everyone, it is indeed a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you, education statistics & finance officers, senior Officials of Education, and DFAT colleagues to our annual Pacific regional workshop on Education Statistics. I will first take this opportunity to thank the UNESCO Institute for Statistics for co-hosting this workshop with SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme. This workshop is the third in a series of annual collaborative workshops with UIS that are funded by the Australian Government to build overall statistical capacity in the region. Previous workshops were focussed on the harmonisation and standardisation of education microdata and the improvement of the policy environment for the production of education statistics. After a face-to-face workshop in New Caledonia in 2019, we had our first virtual regional education data workshop in 2020, and EQAP and UIS are once again working collaboratively in presenting this year’s workshop virtually to allow for participation from all Pacific Island countries. I will turn now to sharing a bit about how the data you have already provided through the UIS questionnaires for the Survey of Formal Education has informed important education Information for the region. From that information, EQAP has prepared a Status of Pacific Education report which provides the key SDG4 indicators for each Pacific Island country and for the region as a whole. The report was presented to the Education Ministers’ Meeting (FEdMM) earlier this year and disseminated to development partners. In the Pacific region, we need high quality education finance data that is accurate, accessible, complete and timely for monitoring the Pacific Regional Education Framework and the Education 2030 Agenda. This allows ministers to recognize the data for SDG4 reporting as well as to support development partners in using data for informed decisions. Pacific governments have committed to implementing the Education 2030 Framework for Action which calls for countries to progressively allocate at least 4 to 6 percent of their gross domestic product or at least 15 to 20 percent of their total public expenditure to education. The regular reporting of quality and timely education finance statistics to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics is a key responsibility of Pacific countries to enable the monitoring of this commitment. This week’s workshop will be relevant for all of us as we continue to learn and be updated about education finance data that will be used by policy makers to support evidence-based decisions to fund education systems. The overall aim of the workshop is to improve the capacity of Ministry of Education staff to develop and use data quality processes for assuring the quality of education finance statistics. Through harmonisation with UIS methodology, workshop activities support the need to integrate education finance data into EMIS systems that will enable better and more accurate reporting of education finance data. Over the course of the workshop, we hope that we can all improve our capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate relevant education finance statistics that meet the needs of education stakeholders at a variety of levels. During the course of this workshop, we will be talking about education finance statistics requirements – where discussion will be on ensuring that there is data quality that follows international code of practice and the principles of the data quality assessment framework. As well, there will be discussion and familiarisation on finance indicators that come under national, regional and international goals – Pacific countries have the opportunity to present finance indicators in National Education Sector plans and statistical digests. We will also have an opportunity to share with you some of the tools that the EQAP Data team and our UIS focal point have been putting together to help strengthen skills in aggregating, analysing and reporting education finance data. There will be an opportunity to discuss the questionnaires for the annual UIS survey of formal education where practical sessions will be on the completion of the education finance questionnaire and we hope that participating countries will have assessed resources needed for EMIS development - apart from enrolment and teacher information, this would also include definitions and classifications of education finance data for the education system as a whole and for each education level. As we work through these topics in the programme, I ask that you actively engage in the discussions and ask questions with minds that are open to learning more. As you update yourselves this week, think as well about how you will be able to update those at the decision-making level, officers at the central, district or provincial offices and at the school level. On that note, again, a very warm welcome to all of you and I hope that the workshop will be fruitful, and your next few days will be both productive and enjoyable. Thank you.