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Census information needed for planning purposes

Census information needed for planning purposes


Officials attached to the Census taking place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have stated that the questions being asked by the enumerators are necessary for the compilation of relevant data.{{more}}

Addressing the public on a recent radio talk show programme, Chief Statistician and Census Officer Gatlin Roberts stated that persons have had most difficulty answering questions pertaining to the income and fertility.

“In terms of questions on the questionnaire, some of the questions persons have difficulty with, they are nothing new. Even as far back as 1980, those questions have been on the questionnaire,” she said.

Statistician Shevorn Alexander added that the questions allow for the compilation of important demographic data. The information collected, she stated, is to be used for planning purposes. “Information that they use for planning comes from the population and hence the reason why it is necessary for persons to participate and give the relevant information,” she stated.

Roberts added that the data compiled can also be used by researchers as well as students who rely on the data which comes out of the census. She also addressed persons who may inquire why certain information is needed.

“The population is about the people, so just knowing how many persons are out there is not enough; we need to know the characteristics of the people. These are important statistics,” she said.

In terms of fertility, the average age of when Vincentian women begin having children and they stop having children is determined from certain questions, which is one reason why enumerators will ask the age of the person when they had their first and last child, Roberts said. She emphasized that these are important statistics which are needed.

Addressing claims that the questions are politically based, Roberts said: “Vincentians need to look beyond the political colours, and we need to separate what is political from what is national. How can it be about politics, how can it be about a political party, when a census is done regardless of what political party is in office?”

Responding to a caller, Roberts stated that enumerators are having a hard time collecting data as those who have gone through the exercise are negatively influencing those who have not yet gone through it.

“In some cases they are deliberately misleading people, saying that there are things on the questionnaire which are not so,” she stated, adding that at times the enumerator may have to use wit or persuasion to encourage persons to answer questions.

Responding to the relevance of the question on appliances in the home, Roberts added that the question does not ask how many appliances you have in your home, but what appliances are used. Alexander added that this information is necessary as it assesses the standard of living, and how much is used in terms of power within the home.

Roberts added that enumerator may ask about how much is earned by persons in the home, in order to determine the standard of living. She, however, emphasized that all information compiled by enumerators is confidential as enumerators and all persons working in the statistical office are under a oath which states that they are not allowed to divulge information gathered.

Roberts added that once they are informed that someone has divulged information, the person can be taken to court and will be penalized.

Roberts stated that once data is derived from questionnaires, the questionnaires are destroyed. Alexander emphasized that no one has access to the questionnaires and no officer or statistician or enumerator can divulge any information on a particular household to anyone, even a politician.

The census is expected to end around mid August. It occurs every ten years.(OS)