UNESCO peer exchange shares African experiences in collecting cultural indicators

A UNESCO “Peer Exchange on Experiences Collecting Cultural Indicators in the Africa Region: Case studies from Kenya & Zimbabwe” was organized for the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage of Mauritius on 15 September 2021 by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in partnership with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.

The hybrid meeting united 26 participants, including the physical participation of 12 representatives from the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage of Mauritius and the National Statistics Office together with 14 online participants from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, and the Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO as well as culture staff from UNESCO field offices in the Africa region and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The meeting aimed to share guidance from the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) 2009 Framework for Cultural Statistics, and the UNESCO Culture|2030 indicators framework, while also sharing experiences and lessons learned from Kenya and Zimbabwe, which are already engaged in the process of collecting cultural indicators.

Dr. (Mrs) N. Luckheenarain, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Mauritius, provided the opening remarks for the meeting. She announced that the Government of Mauritius plans to establish a dedicated statistics unit to collect cultural indicators and analyze data on the contribution of culture to sustainable development in Mauritius.

A video intervention by Dr. (Ms.) Jyoti Hosagrahar, Deputy Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, provided an introduction and overview of the UNESCO Thematic Indicators for Culture in the 2030 Agenda (Culture|2030 Indicators), which is a framework of thematic indicators whose purpose is to measure and monitor the progress of culture’s enabling contribution to the national and local implementation of the Goals and Targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Georges Boade, Senior statistical Advisor for the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) based in Dakar, Senegal gave a presentation on the 2009 Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS), which presents international standards and methodology developed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics for the measurement of the economic and social impacts of culture. He announced that UIS will launch the process for updating and revising the 2009 Framework through consultations that will start in 2022.

Dr. (Mr.) Biggie Samwanda, Director of Arts, Culture Promotion and Development for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, gave a presentation on the long and rich experience of Zimbabwe in collecting cultural indicators, which dates back to 2016 and includes participating in the UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators Suite (CDIS) –the previously used advocacy and policy tool to assess the multidimensional role of culture in development processes through facts and figures (Note: CDIS has since been replaced by the Culture|2030 Indicators). He highlighted the broad consultation undertaken in Zimbabwe in partnership with the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency ZIMSTATS, using a participatory approach to involve a wide range of stakeholders in the development, review and finalization of the country’s process for collecting cultural indicators. For the National Census in 2021, ZIMSTATS will include items on the questionnaire that collect cultural data. Dr. Samwanda also announced that the Zimbabwe Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation is also carrying out a national survey in 2021 to collect more statistical data on the cultural and creative industries (CCI) sector. The information collected through the national CCI survey and census, as well as annual meetings of key stakeholders, will also be used to prepare Zimbabwe’s next quadrennial periodic report on implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which in turn informs their national Culture Policy and measures to support the cultural and creative industries sector in Zimbabwe.

Ms. Emily Njeru, Deputy Director of the Culture Programme at the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, shared Kenya’s experience launching the process for collecting cultural indicators, which began in 2018 following Kenya’s participation in a UIS Survey on implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11.4.1. The Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO has been mobilizing national stakeholders including the National Bureau of Statistics, Kenyan Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, Kenyan Film Commission and Copyright Board as well as county governments and civil society organizations to learn about UNESCO best practices and other standards established for the collection of cultural indicators. They also reviewed past studies and data, including evaluating the reliability of available data. The Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO then began focusing on awareness raising and capacity building with the aim of developing a standard tool for the collection of data on the culture sector from local governments. They developed and tested a pilot tool based on the UIS Framework for Cultural Statistics and tested it in a few counties, but they soon realized that more capacity building would be needed to ensure the terms and process were well understood and the data was collected and reported accurately. Through support from a UNESCO Participation Programme grant in 2020, the Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO has been leading a series of capacity building workshops in different counties to train key stakeholders in collecting, analyzing and reporting data on the culture sector in Kenya. Seventy-five participants have been trained to date, with more trainings planned in 2021. Three local experts from NGOs in Kenya were also trained in the UNESCO Culture|2030 Indicators through an online training in June 2020. The Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO has now established a national team for cultural indicators, which includes some of the trained experts from civil society together with representatives from the National Bureau of Statistics to design a local training programme.

The meeting was closed by Mr. Islam Bhugan, Director of Culture at the Mauritius Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage. He expressed gratitude for the experiences shared by Zimbabwe and Kenya as well as the guidelines from UNESCO, which will inform the methodology Mauritius puts in place for the collection of cultural indicators.

 

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