You are here
Census data must be used for proper planning
It is a significant achievement of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to have produced the long-overdue population and demographic survey within 18 months. The importance of producing data on the society and economy in a manner that makes the figures more relevant and more useful for planning by the Government and the private sector cannot be minimised.
Having hard data will make it possible to make plans and decisions on the basis of evidence rather than guesswork and other non-scientific bases. The CSO figures demonstrate, among other things, that a mere 29.8 per cent of the population has achieved a primary school education; a low of 43.5 per cent has made it through the secondary school system; and an unacceptably small 14.6 per cent is going on to graduate from tertiary institutions with the skills, capacity and knowledge to drive economic and human development.
Being aware of this worrying reality should be a signal to the authorities that the education system needs immediate, drastic and sustained remedial action. A more positive sign may be the greater balance of the population at approximately 35 per cent between the Indo and Afro-Trini groups, while those of mixed ethnicity have increased to 22.8 per cent. One possible result of this emerging phenomenon is that the mixed ethnic group could neutralise those at the extremes of tribal politics.
The decline, over the last decade and more, in the populations in the urban centres of Port-of-Spain and San Fernando is not surprising. A combination of upward social and financial mobility, the spread of housing estates to new population centres and in many instances the decay of the old cities have been responsible for that phenomenon. However, it must be noted that the most modern and successful cities in the world continue to have large residential populations.
What is the Government’s vision for the capital city? Are there plans to arrest and reverse this trend? Have its negative effects on the city been considered and addressed? Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie did not announce plans for utilising the data thrown up by the survey while launching several short-term initiatives. The last major long-term plan announced for the country was Vision 2020, by the PNM government; that was allowed to crash after the party lost the government.
No doubt Dr Tewarie is hard at work on a daily basis on numerous worthy projects, but what is his and the Government’s overarching plan for the country? Vision 2020 may have been unrealistic and impractical in some respects, but it did represent a clear road map drawn up after extensive collaboration by representatives of a large number of groups and sectors, including the political opposition.
Having rejected it, the Government should replace it with an alternative, together with clear benchmarks by which progress could be measured. Successful developing countries have hinged their advance on the production and implementation of long-term plans. The hope, therefore, must be that the data will not be allowed to gather dust without being used to achieve this end.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.