History 1994 to 2002

An ISI committee was established in 1994 to stimulate the spread of quantitative skills around the world in areas and populations (especially in developing countries and among the young) that could benefit from increased knowledge of numbers and their applications, with particular regard to statistics. The committee was known at the World Numeracy Program Advisory Committee and was chaired by Prof. Luigi Biggeri (Italy).

In September 2000, the ISI President invited this program to come under the umbrella of the IASE. Carol Joyce Blumberg (USA), one of the Vice Presidents of IASE, took over as chair in July 2001.

September 1994 to February 1996

Report of the ISI World Numeracy Program (WNP) Advisory Board (27 February 1996) (by Professor Luigi Biggeri, Chairman)

1. Considering that the fight against illiteracy in the world has achieved considerable success, while we observe a great weakness in quantitative skill in many part of the world, and considering that now familiarity with quantitative thinking is more and more a requirement of contemporary society as literacy, but, for a variety of reasons, the need is much less widely appreciated, the ISI Executive Committee established a World Numeracy Program. The WNP aims to spread quantitative skills all over the world in areas and populations (especially in developing countries and among the young) which could benefit most from increased knowledge of numbers and their applications, with particular regard to statistics. The ISI Executive Committee/Council at its September 1994 meeting appointed professor Luigi Biggeri to be the Chairman of the WNP Advisory Board. For the time being the WNP Advisory Board consists of the following members: L. Biggeri, B. Bailar, F. El-Boustani, G. Burgio, N. Chinnappa, G. Cicchitelli, J.Dragt, Y. Escoufier, I. Gal, A. Hawkins, C. Heyde, M. Kaytaz, L. Kish, C. Malaguerra, F. Merhan, Y. Miura, S. Sugito. May be that other members will joint the board, because a large Advisory Board is justified taking into account that the WNP covers many projects and hopes to cover many countries.

2. To be operative the Program needs to be arranged in a series of projects or sub-projects in the different field of interest. The following first group of projects to be covered under the WNP was formulated and explored for funding assistance:

(1) Promotion of National Numeracy Programs (NNP); (2) TV series “The World of Numbers”; (3) Survey of International Statistical Training efforts; (4) Survey of National Statistical Training efforts; (5) Certifications of statisticians; (6) Multilingual glossary of statistical terms; (7) Register of International Statistical Standards; (8) Hall of fame of great Statisticians; (9) Code of Ethics in Statistics; (10) Museum of Numbers.

A submission to UNESCO, visited by Dr. Kenessey and Mr. Smulders, has been made in early 1995, in order to involve them in the launching of WNP and asking for “seed-money” to start work on these projects. We received sympathetic consideration for the WNP but without any tangible results in term of funds for 1995 and the first part of 1996.

Several follow-up visits to UNESCO by Mr. Smulders did not result in concrete financial funds for the WNP from UNESCO during the biennium 1996-1997 up to now. Only expressions of sympathy for the WNP have been received from UNESCO. Also, suggestions have been made to approach other organizations. In the Approved Programme and Budget for 1996-1997 (UNESCO, Paris, January 1996) sub the Programme I.1. (Basic education for all) “numeracy” has been mentioned as one of the domains of interest. Furthermore, UNESCO has proposed to include “numeracy” into the definition of the fields of study, sub “General Programmes”, in the revised version of the International Standard Classification of Education.

Professor Biggeri obtained some success in obtaining Italian funds (about US$ 15,000) for the WNP, and this help us to begin work on some of the priority or less expensive activities. In particular, we tried to begin with the projects 1, 3, 6, 9 and 10. It obvious that Project 1, namely the promotion of National Numeracy Programs, is a key priority. the world-wide success of the overall Program should require the mounting of national numeracy drives in as many countries as possible. For this reason a general blue-print of a numeracy drive for national adaptation was developed by Dr. Kenessey with the cooperation of professor Iddo Gal to be discussed during the Beijing ISI Session.

3. During the ISI Beijing Session the WNP was presented in the two following meetings:

(i) Meeting of Presidents/Representatives of Statistical Societies, held on August 23, 1995; (ii) Meeting of the WNP Advisory Board, held on August 28, 1995.

During the first meeting, attended by 25 participants, after the presentation of the WNP objectives and projects, professor Biggeri introduced the proposal for the National Numeracy Programs. The participants were very interested in the program and in some cases enthusiastic to be involved in it. Many of them illustrated the present programs and experiences already implemented in their countries and the problems they are meeting in achieving the planned objectives. Many suggestions have been useful for the improvement of the WNP. During the Advisory Board meeting, attended by 8 participants, the discussion involved all the aspects of the planned projects. including problems, preferable actions to be carried out, priorities and possible new specific projects. Some members of the A.B. questioned the use of the term “numeracy”, because it is too general including all kinds of science that treat with numbers. In any case none of the suggested alternative seems to be better. The A.B. agreed on the suggested priorities and asked for a more strict linkage and communications among the members in order to share working progress, ideas and initiatives. Some members asked to develop the National Numeracy Programs in their country, if funds for them will be available.

4. In order to develop the different projects, and especially some National Numeracy Programs, professor Biggeri visited again UNESCO in October 23, 1995 discussing the WNP with Mr. Nascimento, director of the Division of Statistics, and Mr. Chu, program specialist of the same division. Notwithstanding the cut of their funds, it seems possible to obtain their help to stress the importance of the ISI WNP in the different countries through their national agencies. Moreover, may be that UNESCO could finance some specific pilot National Programs for developing countries. They stressed the importance to test in some countries the validity, usefulness and sustainability of the national programs. Now, contacts have been taken with some members of ISI family in Brasil, China, Nigeria and Uganda in order to prepare specific programs to be submitted to UNESCO. In the same time, contacts have been taken also with some developed countries interested in the WNP and that find directly the necessary funds (Italy, UK, etc.). In developing these activities a great help is expected by the IASE, the specific Section of ISI devoted to education. Actually this Section helped a lot in providing the ideas for the Program and now, its President Dr. Anne Hawkins is involved in the Advisory Board and surely will cooperate for the development of the Program, also putting at our disposal the experience of the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education of which she is Director.

5. Finally, meanwhile we are implementing the mentioned activities, two more initiative are to be mentioned. Firstly, professor Biggeri will attend, as WNP Advisory Board Chair, the 1996 World Conference on Literacy that will be held in Philadelphia, from March 12-15, 1996, and will participate in a Panel Discussion focused on Literacy and Numeracy issues titled “Numeracy Education for all: Goals and Processes”. This will be a good occasion to present the WNP and to stress its importance in a world-wide conference organized by the International Literacy Institute and co-sponsored by UNESCO. Secondly, professor Ghosh launched the idea to organize in Nepal an International Seminar on the subjects of the WNP. We agree on this initiative and may be that it will be possible to find some funds for it.

We are waiting for further developments.

March 1996 to December 1997

In Istanbul, at ISI 51, 1997, a meeting of the Advisory Committee of the WNP was held under the Chairmanship of Luigi Biggeri. IASE President Maria Gabriella Ottaviani was present, confirming that IASE is a natural Section to have a major involvement in the World Numeracy Programme. At that meeting Anne Hawkins, IASE past-president, agreed to try to establish a more active network of people interested in the objective of the Programme. By now 29 persons already indicated they wish to be involved. Within the framework of the ISI World Numeracy Programme, national activities are favored which aim at spreading quantitative skills as well as the development of statistical science and scientific data collection practices. An ideal combination of academy statisticians and official statisticians has been organised by Luigi Biggeri in Italy. Under the auspices of the Italian Statistical Society (SIS) and the Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT) a Conference has been organised on “The Statistical Culture Diffusion” (Rome, 26-27 November 1997) which addresses school teachers, media and journalists, national and local government officers. In particular, after a general session on the importance of statistical culture, there will be a round table on “Statistics and the media” and two sessions are scheduled about teaching statistics at school and the importance of statistics for national and local government.

January 1998 to December 1999

In Helsinki, at the ISI 52nd Session, Prof. Luigi Biggeri, the Chairman of the ISI WNP, organized a Panel Discussion (IPM 6) on “Statistical Literacy”. The Panel was held on Monday, 16 August and was chaired by Prof. Biggeri. The panelists were Olajedo Ajayi (Nigeria), Carol Joyce Blumberg (USA), Maria-Gabriella Ottaviani (Italy), and Martin Podehl (Canada). It should be noted that Carol Blumberg replaced Miquel Cervera (Mexico) when he was unable to attend the ISI Session.

Each panelist addressed the following in a 15 minute presentation:

1. National Statistical Offices and Statistical Societies as main actors in the dissemination of statistical culture and literacy, what are they doing at present and what could they do?

2. Priorities among the following possible recipients:

(a) final recipients (students at elementary and middle school, citizens, adult citizens, policy makers, public administration director and staff, etc.)

(b) intermediary recipients and spreaders (school teachers, journalists and mass-media workers, libraries).

3. Actions and means to be used for the different recipients, in particular for school teachers and students, for public administration staff and for journalists.

4. Successes, difficulties met, and possible future actions for the dissemination of statistical literacy.

These presentations were followed by approximately 1 hour of lively audience discussion. The entire 2 1/4 hours of the Panel Discussion was simultaneously translated into English, French, and Finnish and was attended by approximately 400 people.

Update on Other Activities during this period

1. Multilingual Glossary of Statistical Terms

The project will assist readers to understand in several languages the most important statistical terms, based on the Dictionary of Statistical Terms. The material has been incorporated in a custom-made database (in the form of a working model), with a built in search engine. Eurostat has agreed to place this on the web free of charge. It is expected to be on-line before the end of 1999.

2. Survey of International Statistical Training

The objective is to compile a comprehensive and annotated survey of such activities. The ISI Permanent Office will contact all known centres, collect and tabulate information, and prepare and publish a report. No work has begun on this activity.

3. Museum of Numbers

This project is being explored under the context of the previous ISI Session in Istanbul, as the city of Istanbul may become the location for the museum. A board meeting of the Directors of Statistical Training Centres (TES, INEGI, and Turkish State Institute of Statistics) took place during the Istanbul Session to stimulate the exchange of ideas and experiences. INEGI and the Turkish SIS have expressed interest in establishing training centres in their own countries as well.

4. Promotion of National Numeracy Programmes

Please note the following extract taken from the September 5-6, 1996 meeting of the ISI Council:

WORLD STATISTICS DAY The Director brought the Council’s attention to a UN Secretary-General document summarising the results of an international survey concerning a world statistical day. O. Ajayi pointed out that African Statistics Day is celebrated every year on November 19 in Africa, and expressed his support for such celebrations. G.M. El-Sayyad supported the implementation of such a day, pointing out that in developing countries such celebrations were helpful in drawing national attention to statistical issues. O. Güvenen indicated that May 9 was national statistics day in Turkey, and a one-week series of conferences was held to help transmit the importance of statistics. I.P. David indicated that in the Philippines, a national statistical month was celebrated. The Council discussed the merits of co-ordinating various national statistical days with an international statistical day, and summarised the following position, which would be communicated to the UN Statistical Commission:

i) National statistical days are extremely important and should be strongly encouraged;

ii) The ISI would be willing to help exchange information about national statistical days, and would be delighted to help promote efforts to organise national statistical days.

iii) The ISI would welcome an international statistical day that served to compliment rather than compete with national efforts in this regard.

5. TV Series “The World of Numbers”

Although the BBC expressed enthusiasm for the project, they were not prepared to provide any material support to produce the project. Prof. Vic Barnett attempted to rekindle interest in the project, but informed us that he was unsuccessful in obtaining any commitments. This can be considered to be dormant.

6. Certification of Statisticians

An ISI Committee was formed to review national developments in respect of the certification of statisticians and to promote the introduction of international topics and comparability in certification and advise about the international registration of statisticians at the ISI. The have compiled information about various national initiatives to (or not to) introduce certification programmes. The Committee fulfilled its mandate and was discontinued.

7. Register of International Statistical Standards

Consideration was given to the establishment of a register of international statistical standards. No action has been taken on this matter.

8. Statisticians of the Centuries

The Japanese Statistical Standards Department has made funds available to the ISI to produce a book profiling the statistical accomplishments of the most prominent statisticians. Prof. Chris Heyde has undertaken this project, and has amassed a large collection of submissions, most which will be paired with a photo or drawing of each statistician represented. A contract was recently signed with Springer, to publish Statisticians of the Centuries before the end of 2000.

9. Hall of Fame of Great Statisticians

Discussions held with representatives of the Japanese Statistical Standards Department about the establishment of a hall of fame outlining the achievements of the most prominent statisticians of the past. No concrete arrangements made, pending the results of the Statisticians of the Centuries project (see item #8).

10. Code of Ethics in Statistics

The ISI appointed ISI Senior Executive Corps member Dr. Jan Atsma to study the effectiveness and practical influence of the Declaration in the statistical community. No report has been produced. Recognising the importance of the topic, a Committee on Professional Ethics was formed by ISI President Jean-Louis Bodin, which will be chaired by Eckart Elsner.

11. Museum of Numbers

Dr. Kenessey had discussions with various representatives from the Hungarian Statistical Office about the establishment of a museum of numbers. No concrete decisions have been made on this. This is presumed to be dormant.

12. Assessment Challenge in Statistics Education

Development of a publication to discuss assessment problems in statistical education. Funds received from USA National Science Foundation. I. Gal and J. Garfield have edited this volume, which has been printed by IOS Press on behalf of the ISI.

13. Conference of Directors of Statistical Education Training Centres

Plans were previously considered for an international conference of Directors of statistical education training centres. This conference would be a continuation of a series of meetings of the Directors of statistical training centres, the previous ones taking place in Calcutta, The Hague and Hungary. Informal meetings were held during the Istanbul ISI Session in 1997 and the ICOTS meeting in Singapore

14. The Dictionary of Statistical Terms

This publication enjoys a fairly successful publication history, with the fifth edition (edited by F.H.C. Marriott) being published by Longman Scientific & Technical. Prof. Y. Dodge (Neuchatel) has agreed to undertake the editing responsibilities for this project. He has assembled an editorial committee that will produce the 6th edition.

January 2000 to June 2001

During 2000, Professor Biggeri oversaw the implementation of the activities listed above.

Multilingual Glossary of Statistical Terms The Multilingual Glossary of Statistical Terms became a reality thanks to the hard work of Johan Dragt. The Glossary is free and is on the Internet at www.europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/research/isi/. The Glossary contains translations of over 3000 statistical terms into19 languages (Afrikaans, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Euskara, Farsi, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish). Most terms also include short definition, with formulae when appropriate. The ISI eagerly welcomes further co-operation on this project in receiving corrections or additions from the users and in adding new languages. If you can contribute to this Glossary in either of these ways, please contact Johan Dragt at jdrt@cbs.nl. The Glossary is also available upon request as an Excel file from Mr. Dragt.

Statisticians of the Centuries The Statisticians of the Centuries book was published by Springer-Verlag for the ISI in 2001 and edited by Chris C. Heyde and Eugene Seneta. ISBN: 0-387-95283-7 (soft-cover) and 0-387-95329-9 ( hardcover), 512 pages. It aims to demonstrate the achievements of statistics to a broad audience, and to commemorate the work of celebrated statisticians. This is done through 104 short biographies (written by 73 different authors) that put the statistical work in its historical and sociological context, emphasizing contributions to science and society in the broadest terms… (Quoted from back cover of the soft-cover edition). More details can be found at http://isi.cbs.nl/other.htm.

July 2001 to December 2002

In July 2001, Carol Joyce Blumberg took over as chair of the World Numeracy Program. Her first step was to gather information from as many people as possible as to what directions they wanted the World Numeracy Project to take. Reports were written by her in December 2001 and circulated to the IASE Executive Committee and the Director and Assistant Director of the ISI. Based on these reports it was decided to change the name of the project to International Statistical Literacy Project.

ISI Dictionary of Statistical Terms It was also decided to work with Professor Yadolah Dodge (Université de Neuchâtel) to include more statistics education terms in the new edition of the ISI Dictionary of Statistical Terms. This project was completed in May 2002. The ISI Dictionary of Statistical Terms was published by Oxford Press in early 2003. See http://isi.cbs.nl/other.htm for more details.

Creation of Webpages and formation of an Advisory Committee It was further decided by the IASE Executive Committee that the next project of the ISLP would be the creation of a website. Several other possible projects were discussed, but were rejected either because they were too big or too expensive to implement. It was also decided to form an Advisory Committee for the ISLP to guide the project over the next few years. The members of the Advisory Committee are: Carol Joyce Blumberg (USA, Chair), Beverley Carlson (USA/Chile), Iddo Gal (Israel), Orhan Güvenan (Turkey), John Harraway (New Zealand), Peter Holmes (UK), Maria A. Pannone (Italy), René Padieu (France) and Gilberte Schuyten (Belgium). Ex-Officio members of the Committee are: Carmen Batanero (Spain, IASE President), Christopher Wild (New Zealand, IASE President-Elect), Marcel Van den Broecke (Director, ISI Permanent Office), and Daniel Berze (Assistant Director, ISI Permanent Office).

The Advisory Committee met on 11 July 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa and made several decisions with respect to the webpage project. It was decided to have the focus of the website on resources to enhance the development of statistical literacy. Most of the entries on the webpages will be 3 to 5 sentence summaries of various publications, websites, etc. The emphasis will be on materials that can be obtained for free over the Internet or via other means. The website will be maintained at Winona State University by Carol Joyce Blumberg and Nicole Machacek (a fourth year undergraduate student in Communications Studies at Winona State).