Soon after the successes of the user-producer workshop that took place earlier this month, the National Statistics Agency has received much attention concerning its actual operations. “The National Statistics Agency is responsible for providing official statistics. Official in the sense of how the information is recorded and analysed; there is a set methodology. The idea is that the NSA becomes the official custodian of official statistics. Other institutions which were compiling statistics that the country deemed official will in future either continue compiling the statistics using NSA’s criteria or will hand over the compilations to the statistics agency.” said Tom Alweendo Director General of the National Planning Commission.
“The NSA is definitely more transparent than the former Central Bureau Statistics. They post all their reports and even the raw data that they used to compile those reports, on their website. The standards for compiling the official statistics are also available on their website. What the NSA would like to stress though is that other institutions are still encouraged to carry out their own private research. It is only when they would like to classify their research and statistics as official that they have to comply to NSA standards.” said Alweendo. Although the institution is still very young it is attempting to be the central hub for all the official statistics that the country produces.
The mismatch of skills in society which has contributed to low competency levels within the workplace has often been blamed on the local tertiary institutions. The question then arises whether the education system is producing sufficient educated individuals who are able to tackle the workings of the NSA. “In my experience if you did economics at UNAM you would have read the same book as someone who did economics at the University of Cape Town. You may not have had the same lectures but the information remains the same. The same literature is used. I know of some very good economists and statisticians that have come from UNAM, for example Dr John Steytler who is Chief Statistician.
“The difference normally comes about during a persons first job as this is what introduces him or her to the real life. The first guidance a person gets at their first job is what can dictate how good an economist or statistician they can become. It all depends on who you work for from the moment you enter the industry and the practical skills you learn. At the moment NSA is working on building its own capacity by involving its own official statisticians in various training workshops.”