Statin appealing to Jamaicans to participate in the census

DIRECTOR general of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) Carol Coy is again imploring Jamaicans to cooperate with census takers when they visit their households as the information being collected is of critical importance for the development of the country.

“Census data not only provides critical information to inform policy and decision-making within the central and local government, but is used extensively by other stakeholders such as the business community, researchers, academia , non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and our students,” Coy explained while giving an update on the census during the institute’s virtual quarterly press briefing on Tuesday.

Coy said the data collection process started on September 13 in the west and census takers are moving across the island in a staggered manner. The process, which is slated to be completed by the end of December, entails the collection of data from all 14 parishes and 6,611 enumeration districts.

In addition to Coy’s appeal, four days before the census officially began Prime Minister Andrew Holness had encouraged all Jamaicans to take a positive view of the exercise and to willingly provide the required information.

“I encourage every Jamaican to participate in the census. There is nothing to be fearful of; there is no need to hide from the Government,” he had said while speaking at the launch of ‘Operation Birthright’, the Government’s undocumented registration programme for persons without a birth certificate.

Holness noted that the census information will provide more current information about the profile of the population to include its size, the demographic make-up, as well as other information regarding the quality of housing, access to water, and other amenities.

He assured that the data given by citizens “will be kept very confidential and safe, and in the long run will ensure [there are gains] to the benefit of you individually and the entire society”.

The prime minister stressed that the Government is not gathering personal data to become a predator to anyone but instead needs the information in order to make citizens’ lives easier, to serve them better, and to increase their access to services.

“Providing the State with information is not about the State doing something negative to you or using it against you. It is to empower the State to serve you better…In other words, it’s giving the State the ability to fulfil your right to the public goods that you are entitled to,” he outlined.

The national census, which is normally undertaken every 10 years, should have been undertaken in 2021 but was delayed due the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Monday September 12 was recognised as Census Day and is the reference point for the exercise which will see census takers counting persons in their homes, correctional institutions, children’s homes, infirmaries, boarding schools, universities, hotels, military camps, hospitals providing specialised care, and on the streets.

According to Statin, individuals will receive questionnaires to complete which will ask questions relating to their age, sex, ethnic origin, marital status, education, physical and mental limitations, training, economic background, fertility and transportation, among other details.

Information to be collected will also include the types of houses occupied by individuals, the material of the outer wall, roofing, number of rooms, the tenure of land, rent, waste disposal, the source of water for domestic use, as well as the availability and type of kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities.

The population and housing census is being carried out under the theme: ‘Yuh count, mi count, all a wi count’.

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