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Training is to the mind

By Michael Hernandez,2014-05-17 14:36
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Training is to the mind

    Forging Partnership in Training in Statistics

    - A way forward

    Dr. S.K.Nath

    Director General

    Central Statistical Organisation

    INDIA

    Training is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body’’

    1. Situation Analysis

1.1 “Information” is the key for any developmental activity and

    “Statistical System” of a country is the “mirror of the nation” which depicts the status. The “mirror” can focus the true status / picture of a nation so long the Statisticians are in a position to discharge their functions and mandates

    as responsible custodians of the Statistical System. This can be achieved if

    and only if she / he can keep her/his Statistical antenna up. Application of appropriate Statistical tools is the key to her / his success. But how ? Herein

    lies the importance of appropriate capacity development programme.

1.2 In view of the increasing demand for Statisticians in the open market,

    there is, at the moment, a shortage of qualified Statisticians or Statistical

    offices globally. India is no exception. Thus, appropriate human resource

    development in SIDA (Statistics, IT and Data Analysis ) plays a significant

    role in producing quality “Statisticians” from the very inception at entry

    level before they are put in the system.

1.3 Government Statisticians are to play the role of both senior Managers

    & Administrators and work as catalectic agent for policy making process as

    and when they move along with vertical ladder of the system and as such,

    besides advance training in SIDA one has to be quite knowledgeable in

    Policy formulation in System Management according to national needs and

    international developments for which regular in-service training and

    interface with policy makers is a must.

The views / opinions expressed are of the author

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1.4 At International level the PARIS-21 document on National Strategy

    for Development of Statistics (NSDS) talked about development of statistical system through accomplishment of “assessment of the current status” and

    incorporating a “comprehensive appraisal of statistical outputs measured against agreed criteria”. On April 14, 2007, the World Bank, OECD/

    PARIS21, and the UK Department for International Development sponsored

    discussions on “how to scale-up efforts to improve statistical capacity in developing countries. The Hanoi Third International roundtable conference

    in February 2007 identified weak statistical capacity as a key constraint for

    managing for better results. The present endeavour was endorsed in the

    recently concluded meetings of PARIS21 during Nov 13-14 and MAPS

    Advisory board of World Bank during Nov 15, 2007 at Paris.

    2. Conceptual Framework

2.1 The forging of partnership in capacity building can be taken up

    through two stages namely,

    ? Statistical Process Assessment and Re-engineering or SPARe

    process, and followed by

    ? What I call “Cross Country Statistical Coordination” or simply CCSC.

2.2 To understand the weakness in statistical capacity of a country, it is

    necessary to carry out Statistical Process Assessment (SPA) of the statistical

    system. Essentially, SPA is a sub-component of SPARe (Statistical Process

    Assessment and Re-engineering) on which the author has been working on.

    This new concept is in a nascent stage and to be built up keeping in view the

    specificity of each country. A framework has been suggested for

    development of SPARe has been suggested particularly for countries

    interested in strengthening their human resources as a catalytic agent to

    boost their statistical system.

2.3 As I mentioned earlier, Statistical system is not just merely a system,

    which should “Collect”, “Compile” and “Disseminate” the data. In terms of

    need of the society, a statistical system should function both as a “MIRROR

    OF THE ECONOMY” and also a “MIRROR OF THE SOCIETY”. Thus,

    for strengthening the system, there is a need to assess and re-assess the

    system against “what are the needs of the country” before one could talk

    about its strengthening process of their available human resources through

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    forging partnership. The Statistical Process Assessment is a study of identification of such needs and related core statistical activities and makes assessment of the system in terms of knowledge analysis and deliveries

    before any re-engineering process is taken up in the form of capacity

    development. This calls for understanding the following:

    ? Needs within the framework of PARIS21

    ? Indicators associated with programme monitoring

    for attaining the societal needs especially MDGs

2.4 SPARe is basically composed of two components namely,

    ? Statistical Process Assessment and identification of

    weak areas

    ? Re-engineering the system with appropriate capacity

    development programme with forging partnership.

    3. Statistical Process Assessment

3.1 In order to develop a framework of Statistical Process Assessment

    (SPA) of a country, it is essential to understand what the process is supposed

    to deliver with respect to the domain of core statistical activities within a country. Since Statistical process is a dynamic concept depends on the

    multiplicity of changes taking place due to globalization, Statistical Process

    Assessment should look into the priorities/needs of the country ( or the

    region) in order to identify the domain of related core statistical activities. For many developing and least developed countries, the priorities could

    possibly be set as:

    ? Reduction of Poverty

    ? Improvement of Health Care programme

    ? Improvement of Education and Quality of life

    ? Enhancement of Economic Growth

Let us now look at the core Statistical activities, which will have direct links

    with the priority programme of a country.

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3.2 The Core Statistical activities under the national statistical system

    which will be required for monitoring the progress of the priority

    programme, as mentioned above can be identified from Statistical

    programmes mentioned below:

    ? Household Income Expenditure Statistics

    ? Employment/Unemployment Statistics

    ? Housing condition Statistics

    ? Village facilities Statistics

    ? Agriculture and land use Statistics

    ? Demographic Statistics

    ? Educational Statistics

    ? Health and family welfare Statistics

    ? Economic and Financial Statistics

    ? Informal sector Statistics

    ? Population and Migration Statistics

    ? Price and wage Statistics

    ? Disaster Management Statistics

    ? Natural Resource Accounting

3.3 Method of assessment: In the absence of any benchmark , it is

    difficult to make assessment of a system. However, the best country

    practices among developing nations could be basis for development of a 5-

    point scale based on following parameters:

    ? Trust worthiness in terms of transparencies

    ? Adoption of Statistical Standards

    ? Reliability in terms of methodology followed

    ? Data availability at sub-national levels

    ? Timeliness in data dissemination in terms of

    defined benchmark ( say SDDS).

3.4 Development of road map: Strengthening of statistical system is a

    dynamic process and therefore, there is a need to develop a clear-cut road

    map of the developmental process. This can be achieved by developing a 5-

    point scale (say) where for each activity ( or, related performance indicators

    of the activity), at least three milestones may be fixed- two intermediate

    goals and one final/desired goal after rigorous scrutiny and assessment by an

    Expert group.

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3.5 Essential Inputs for development: Performance of the statistical system

    highly linked with the following minimum knowledge base:

    ? Knowledge of socio-economic classifications

    ? Knowledge of survey techniques and survey

    operations

    ? Knowledge of System of National Accounts

    ? Knowledge of Data processing capabilities

    ? Knowledge in Computer / IT application

3.6 Statistical Process Re-engineering : Strengthening of statistical system

    is dependent on where the country stands with respect to above knowledge

    base, to start with. This can be done through Statistical Process Re-engineering (SPRe). There are two components of SPRe namely, a) Knowledge re-engineering and b) Infrastructure development and re-

    engineering. The main concern of SPARe is Knowledge re-engineering. This

    calls for development of comprehensive Capacity development programme

    (CDP) keeping in view in intermediate and final /desired targets of statistical

    activities/performance indicators. The second aspect needs funds, which is

    not the subject of discussion here.

3.7 Capacity Development Programme(CDP) should be need-based in

    order to ensure economy in expenditure, effective and purposeful. To

    implement CDP, it would be necessary to develop a 7-point knowledge base

    scale to record score of each practicing Statistician on the following criteria

    based on specially designed questionnaire:

    a) Knowledge in “Socio-economic classification”

    b) Knowledge in “Survey techniques and sampling”

    c) Knowledge in “Health Information system”

    d) Knowledge in “National Accounts Statistics”

    e) Knowledge in “Large scale Data Processing techniques”

    f) Knowledge in “Computer applications in relation to RDBMS/

    Statistical package and Networking”

    g) Management Development programme

3.8 Two-tier intensive programme may be organized under CDP, namely,

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    a) Essential CDP

    b) Specialised CDP

    Each practicing Statistician may be trained in the last four areas namely (d) to (g) above under the scheme “Essential CDP”. “Specialised CDP”

    could be arranged for the practicing statisticians after identifying acumen of

    the officials in relevant field using a 7-point knowledge base scale as stated

    in above. Under specialised programme practicing statisticians should be

    encouraged to carry out analytical and research work in relevant areas of

    applied statistics

    4. Need for better regional and sub-regional cooperation: 4.1 It is well known most of the developing countries in this region are

    generally having similar socio-economic structure, systems and problems

    largely related to poverty, poor health conditions, low education level, to

    mention a few. Although Millennium Development Goals provide some

    uniform standard indicators for monitoring development, in reality many of

    those indicators do not fit in to the proper data system of these Countries. In

    order to assist the planning process there is a need for strong cooperation in

    Statistical activities besides, development of common development

    indicators with time specific goals, which could work as benchmark for

    these nations.

4.2 All countries. except a very few, cannot reach same level of

    competence in official statistics and this has resulted in wide inter-country

    variations if not disparity. While as a region, we are quite competent to

    handle our own requirements for re-engineering statistical process through

    appropriate capacity programmes through forging our partnership within the

    region- what I call cross country statistical care (CCSC).

    5. Plan of Action:

    5.1 The capacity of exiting countries should be assessed as per SPARe first based on structured questionnaire, which should be the basis for

    organising training programmes through partnership under CCSC for which

    following actions are needed :

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(a) To prepare a directory of experts according to subject and distribute

    among all countries within the region and put on the web. For this a

    structured format should be developed keeping in view NSDS model.

(b) Secondly, to prepare a directory of countries, who are having

    infrastructural capabilities to work under CCSC programme for the region

    and sub-regions in the areas as determined through SPARe.

(c) Thirdly, to prepare uniform detailed guidelines for various training

    modules indicating the number class room lectures, tasks for the experts etc.

    to attain uniform standards.

(c) Lastly, arrange workshops for senior Statisticians involving various

    important target groups like, important Ministers, Policy makers, Civil

    Societies and other sector-specific audience.

Maximum thrust should be given for Training of Trainers (TOT) for

    replication of the programmes within the country.

    6. INDIA Experience

6.1 India has a long experience in organising training programme for the

    Statistical Officers working in the Government- especially at central level. It

    has three tier programmes:

    ? At entry level 2 years’ compulsory training for all Group-A

    Statistical officers as per SIDA- about 20 new recruits are there per

    year. But this number is coming down sharply. Countrywide

    recruitment is made by a highly specialised body through written

    examination followed by interview. The minimum education

    qualification is post-graduate degree in Statistics.

    ? Regular in-service capsule training programme for middle and

    senior officers about 250 officers are trained each year.

    ? Modular training programme for State officials and for sub-

    ordinate Statistical officers- about 600 officers are trained each year.

    ? Special demand based programme for visiting officials from

    other countries both within ESCAP / Outside ESCAP programme

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    ? Special programmes collaborated with UNSIAP / UNIFEM /

    UNSD and also ISI, Kolkata for ISEC students.

6.2 At present there is no drop out of Statistical officers in the country,

    except at entry level- which is becoming alarming over years. But however,

    those direct recruits who receive full training, remain in the system. At

    present the officers are receiving training mostly within the country except

    a few under UNSIAP / JICA programme. The total number of such

    training abroad is very limited as compared to the need for training of

    about 500 middle level officers within a span of 4-5 years. It may be

    examined whether the intake of UNSIAP / JICA programme could be

    enhanced in sectors relating to a) IT applications and b) Seoul based

    research programme. Even domestic training cannot take care of entire

    training needs for primary, secondary and middle level officers whose

    number is extremely high touching about 50,000 in number. What is the

    way out ? The detailed programme organised by India is appended. The

    Indian training calendar is also available on the web namely,

    www.mospi.nic.in .

     6.3 The achievements of each staff are assessed through annual

    confidential reports indicating performance in all aspects. The need for

    specialised training is also recorded there. It is however not possible to

    manage the cadre according the type of training received in general.

    However for specialised training in IT etc., selection of officials are made

    according to the job handling.

6.4 Very recently, India has constructed a world class training campus on

    about 37000 sq. meter land which will be furnished with state of art library

    IT lab facilities for practicing Statisticians of the country. This will bring a

    sea-change in the country’s programme on Human Resource Development

    for practicing Statisticians. This facilities will be open to International

    statisticians also. The new campus will have full residential courses of

    about 45 trainees at a time. The commissioning of the new infrastructure is

    expected to start from mid 2008.

    6.5 India would welcome if UNSIAP uses this facility as their regional hub training centre and would like to join in the partnership approach.

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     Appendix

    Training Programme for Indian Statisticians

    1. Indian Statistical System

    India has a federal structure with 35 States / Union Territories. India is having decentralized Statistical system with Central Statistical Organisation

    as the nodal Statistical Authority and Apex body.

    The Indian Statistical System functions within the overall democratic and federal polity of the country, which has provision for separation of

    powers between the centre and the states mentioned under the Union List,

    State List and Concurrent List in our Constitution. Generation of statistics

    belongs to the Concurrent List and the Central Government, through the

    Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, plays the lead role in

    generating and maintaining reliable and credible statistics consistent with the

    International standards for all users. The Indian Statistical System has a 2-

    tier structure with horizontal and vertical functional decentralisation.

    Although the authority and responsibility for the collection, compilation and

    dissemination of statistics relating to a particular subject is determined by

    the overall responsibility for the subject under the Constitution, the Ministry

    of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) is the nodal

    Statistical Ministry in the Government of India, which acts as the apex

    policy making and coordinating authority for official statistics on an all-

    India basis. The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), MOSPI, is the apex

    statistical body and vested with the function of coordination of all statistical

    activities and development of statistical standards at the all-India level. The

    State Directorates of Economics and Statistics (DES) are empowered with

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