ISLP Strategy Project


The objective of the ISLP (International Statistical Literacy Project) is to promote statistical literacy across the world and in all walks of life. Special emphasis is given to teaching of basic statistical literacy and understanding to target groups who do not already have such skills.

What skills does statistical literacy require?

Statistical literacy can be compared to conventional literacy, but it is a specific skill. What kinds of skill requirements are needed is naturally dependent on the person’s information needs and operating environment. For example, ordinary people’s basic skill requirements differ from those required from decision-makers or researchers. Additionally, it should to be considered separately what skills should be particularly improved in each target group. There are several good definitions for statistical literacy, see e.g.:

  • Gal, Iddo (2002). Adults’ Statistical Literacy: Meanings, Components, and Responsibilities. In: International Statistical Review. Volume 70, Number 1, April 2002, Pages 1−25.
  • Schield (2010). Assessing Statistical Literacy: Take Care. In: Assesment Methods in Statistical Education. Wiley.
  • Wallman, Katherine K. (1993). In Enhancing Statistical Literacy: Enriching Our Society. In: Journal of the American Statistical Association. Volume 88, Number 421, March 1993, Pages 1−8.
  • Franklin, Christine, Kader Gary, Mewborn Denise, Moreno Jerry, Peck Roxy, Perry Mike & Scheaffer Richard (2005). Introduction. In: Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report. A Pre-K–12 Curriculum Framework. American Statistical Association.

In general, basic statistical literacy can be said to include the following:

  • Knowledge of basic statistical key figures
  • Understanding concepts describing society (e.g. inflation, unemployment, GDP, etc.)
  • Basic information about research methods (from the viewpoint of both use and interpretation)
  • Basic information about visualisation (both about visualisation and interpretation)
  • Knowledge about data sources and the ability to evaluate the used data sources.

Objectives of the ISLP strategy project

Until now, the ISLP has concentrated on advancing statistical literacy among young secondary school and upper secondary school age students. A central mode of operation has been the International Statistical Literacy Competition, which has now been arranged two times both as an individual competition in 2008 to 2009 and as a team competition in 2010 to 2011. The objective of the competition has been to bring the use and understanding of statistics into teaching in a natural way.

According to the ISLP action plan for 2009 to 2013, the aim is to extend teaching of statistical literacy to other spheres of life as well. The purpose is to develop models and share good practices that can be utilised all over the world. In the first phase, the main target groups defined in the strategy project are as follows:

  • Citizens and the Media
  • Educational institutions (secondary school and upper secondary school age students)
  • Universities and research institutions
  • Decision-makers
  • Libraries
  • National statistical agencies.

Tasks of the strategy project

The task of the project is to consider for each target group:

  • The objectives and level requirements for each target group as concerns statistical literacy
  • Examples of best practices how to improve statistical literacy that could be used or applied in different countries
  • Suggestions for new operation models or activities that could be started in the member states of the ISLP network through ISLP country coordinators
  • Proposals for new operation models or activities that could be initiated by the ISLP (such as statistical competitions aimed at educational institutions).

Working method

  • To write a report on current state of activities to support statistical literacy using currently available documentation
  • To list best practise examples
  • To present suggestions for activities to increase statistical literacy (such as competitions, website tools and use of social media etc.).

The chair collects a report with his own project group. The chair can supplement his project group when desired by suitable members.


January 2012 to 31 December 2012 (intermediate reports on 30 April and 30 September 2012).

More information

Reija Helenius, Director of ISLP

Members of the project

Citizens and the Media

Chairs: Jim Ridgway (Professor, Smart Centre, University of Durham) and Milo Schield (Professor of Business Administration at Augsburg College)

Members: Peter Kovacs (Assistant Professor of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Szeged, Department of Statistics and Demography), Jacques Lefebvre (Assistant Director of Communications Division at Statistics Canada), Afshin Ashofteh (Head of Industrial Statistics Department, Central Bank of Iran), Dean Souter (ABS, Assistant Director Corporate Communications Section), Tania Carr (Assistant Director Corporate Communications Section, ABS), Erja Seppänen (Information Officer, Statistics Finland)

Note: In this group the most general problems in the interpretation, use and understanding of statistics are listed also.

Schools (secondary school and upper secondary school age students)

Chair: Marina Peci (Researcher, ISTAT, Dissemination of statistical literacy among young people)

Members: Francesco Michele Mortati (Expert, ISTAT, Dissemination of statistical literacy among young people), Nadezhda Tsankova (Assistant Professor in Statistics, University of Veliko Turnovo), Tiziana Carrino (Researcher, ISTAT), Barbara Ascari (Expert, ISTAT), Leonette Mabjaia (Statistics Mosambique), Emma Mawby (Statistical Analyst, Statistics New Zealand), Fran Mawdsley (ABS, Assistant Director for the Education Services Unit), Jakub Fischer, (University of Economics, Prague)

Associate members: ISLP Executive: Reija Helenius, Pedro Campos, Sharleen Forbes

Universities and research institutes

Chair: Peter Kovacs (Assistant Professor of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Szeged, Department of Statistics and Demography)

Members: Afshin Ashofteh (Head of Industrial Statistics Department, Central Bank of Iran), Maria Manuel da Silva Nascimento (Professor, Dep. of Mathematics of the Sciences and Technology School at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro), Sallehah Habibullah (Head of Statistics Department, Kinnaird College, Lahore), Seppo Laaksonen (Professor, University of Helsinki), Tommaso di Fonzo (Professor, University of Padua, Faculty of Statistics), Maria Pia Sorvillo (Senior Statistician, ISTAT), Concetta Ferruzzi, (Senior Researcher, ISTAT), Maria Ivanova, (Sofia University), Siméon Fotso, (Université de Yaoundé I), Jakub Fischer, (University of Economics, Prague)

Decision makers

Chair: Robert Letheby (Assistant Director, Statistical Literacy Unit, Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Members: Jim Ridgway (Professor, Smart Centre, University of Durham), Mervi Ukkonen (Chief Information Officer, Statistics Finland), Mikko T. Mäkinen (Information specialist, Statistics Finland), Margaret A. Nemeth (Lead, Statistics Technology Center, Regulatory Monsanto Company)


Chair: Olga Mendes (Information Specialist, Statistics Portugal)

Members: Anja Törmä (Information Specialist, Statistics Finland), Aime Lauk (Senior consultant of the Information and Marketing Service, Statistics Estonia)

National Statistical Offices

Perspective: How to bring promotion of statistical literacy more visibly on the agenda of all national statistical agencies

Chair: Vadim Isakov (Associate Statistician, Statistical Division, UN Economic Commission for Europe)

Members: Eva Laczka (Deputy President of the HCSO), Mikko T. Mäkinen (Information specialist, Statistics Finland), Francisco Correia (Information/Dissemination Specialist, Statistics Portugal), Gai Mooney (ABS)