The State of Statistics
The State of Statistics
At the 2017 inaugural UN World Data Forum in Cape Town ESSA’s founder and Chair was impressed by the strength of views from the Heads of Statistics attending on the issue of capacity and capability.
He came away with a deep impression of the:
Urgency to both improve the current pipeline of talented statisticians and data scientists in sub-Saharan Africa and the
Necessity to increase investment in producing higher quality data and analysis for decision making in the education space.
As a result, ESSA decided to explore this space in more depth with existing partners the Africa America Institute (AAI), the Association of African Universities (AAU), The University of Warwick and others.
This coincided with ESSA’s plans to work on the major issue of the “Demographics of faculty” which has now completed a successful pioneering pilot to map the demographics of Faculty of 213 Tertiary institutions in Ghana. The aim being to provide an analysis of both the current state of play and how demand and supply is likely to evolve given current policy objectives and population data.
This first project is a good example of the constructive way in which ESSA is working to change the game at a strategic level in a practical way using existing data and creating additional knowledge, then creating tools to utilize and sustain it at a local level. It also demonstrates that our work on the State of Statistics is both benefitting from and contributing to other aspects of ESSA's work.
Early in 2018 ESSA raised some additional seed funding to get started on some new strands of its “State of Statistics” work.
The first of these is now well underway and that is to map the capacity and capability of Statistics/Data Science faculties at Universities in a number of countries in the region. ESSA’s delivery partner on this project is Idems International a social enterprise that works in innovations in development, education and the Mathematical Sciences.
ESSA is now looking to raise further funds through its pilot Scholarship Impact Hub to be able to undertake a mapping and analysis of current scholarship programmes for statistics and data science.
AAI’s mission is to strengthen human capacity for Africa’s development through education, skills training, dialogue, convening activities, program development and management. AAI plays a key role in bridging co-operation between the US and Africa.
AAI has given ESSA a platform for the first public presentation of its work in 2017 at their SOE conference in Nairobi. Currently we are working together to develop an initiative on the “State of Educational data and statistics in Africa”.
“ESSA is a fascinating new endeavour in the African education space – I really appreciate ESSA’s innovative and action and impact-orientated approach in addressing major challenges.”
Kofi Appenteng, Chief Executive Officer of the Africa-America Institute, New York City
AAU is one of the key players in higher Education in Africa. With almost 400 members its mission is to enhance the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development.
From its headquarters in Ghana the AAU serves as a platform for African Universities to co-operate on research and to reflect and consult on issues pertaining to Higher Education. It possesses a unique capacity to convene and communicate with institutional leaders and policy makers from all parts of Africa.
AAU formed a partnership with ESSA in 2017, and we have been working together on a range of projects, most notably the “Demographics of Faculty” and the creation of a “Pan African Academic Jobs Board”. AAU also gave ESSA a prominent role at its 2017 50th Anniversary conference in Accra, expanding ESSA’s network and reputation at an early stage in its development.
“ESSA is a great partner for the AAU, and I particularly appreciate their fresh thinking, dynamic approach and highly collaborative way of working. ‘Joining up’ is really part of their DNA!”
Prof. Etienne Ahile, Secretary General, Association of African Universities
The University of Warwick has been an important partner for ESSA, even before it was founded. The catalyst to create ESSA was the experience of its founder, Warwick alumnus Patrick Dunne, in founding and growing another charity with Warwick, Warwick in Africa (WIA). Since 2006 WIA has benefitted over 465,000 young Africans in deprived and rural areas with transformed Maths and English teaching. Warwick also provided support and encouragement in the early proof of concept research for ESSA.
Since ESSA’s formation Warwick has been directly involved in three key projects:
As part of ESSA’s approach to put Africans at the heart of all it does, learners and teachers in Warwick in Africa schools have taken part in a series of workshops over two years across Tanzania and South Africa. These workshops have not only informed ESSA’s strategy and priorities but also given African’s a powerful voice.
ESSA’s State of Statistics project is benefitting considerably from the advisory role that Professor Jane Hutton is playing and finally;
Warwick’s pioneering academic jobs site Jobs.ac is partnering with the Association of African Universities and ESSA to create a pan-African on-line academic jobs board
‘Two of Warwick’s most defining attributes as a University are its International outlook and its commitment to social inclusion. Our own Warwick in Africa programme has supported maths education in range of schools across the African continent, and it is fantastic to see how that work, and the energy and enthusiasm of Warwick’s alumni and staff, have helped contribute to, inspire and even power the transformational practice of ESSA.’