The St Kitts and Nevis Education Minister has challenged practitioners in the field of statistics to demystify it to young people in the Caribbean and to find creative ways to expose them to the subject.
Nigel Carty, Minister of Education of St Kitts and Nevis, delivered this charge on Monday morning in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Thirty-Eighth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (SCCS) and the Twenty-Third Meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee (RCCC). The meetings are being held in St. Kitts and Nevis; the SCCS is being held October 28-30 while the RCCC will be convened on October 31, a press release from the Caricom Secretariat said.
Carty told delegates to the meeting that ways had to be found to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of statistics in public and private life, and to increase their comfort level with the subject matter.
“Firstly, in our outreach to the public, we must avoid even terms like “Statistical Literacy” which only serves to place yet another wall between the field of statistics and the public. We must modify our language so that it becomes human and understandable,” he said. The minister said that practitioners must ensure that within the borders of the Caribbean, there were Caribbean statisticians who provided the data and analyses that were critical to the effective and efficient functioning of Caribbean progress and stability.
The meetings are being held as the Caribbean Community marks its 40th anniversary, when St Kitts and Nevis celebrates its 30th anniversary of independence, and during the observance of International Year of Statistics under the theme `Statistics in Everyday Life – Let us Educate and Appreciate’.
“All of these milestones give our gathering here today a special significance and resonance because it is a fact that neither CARICOM, over the past forty years, nor St. Kitts-Nevis over the past thirty, could have achieved much without the data, the trend lines, the projections – the reality that is put before us on a daily basis, all grounded in statistics, and on which we depend,’ the minister said.
According to Carty, the vast majority of the world’s population had no idea how many areas of their lives were influenced and governed by the work of professional statisticians. He singled out trends in a country’s inflation rates that were directly tied to decisions about wages and pensions. Economic growth trajectories influenced what commitments government could make. Past and projected revenue flows, he added, had a direct bearing on whether or not special stimulus programmes were required, while population trends determined whether – and where – banks and other private sector entities opened branches.
He also recognised the pivotal role that the Caricom Secretariat played in helping to advance the regional integration agenda from the Caribbean Common Market (CCM) to the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), which envisaged the free movement of people, capital, and goods and services within the Region.
“These developments are neither coincidental nor coerced, but are the purposeful efforts of CARICOM to promote the sustainable growth and development of the Region, improve the standard of living and work of our people, and enhance regional integration,” he said.
Referring to the Regional Statistics Work Programme (RSWP), Carty said the RSWP was playing a major role in the development and harmonization of economic, socio-demographic, and environmental statistics across member and associate member states. More specifically, he said, the Secretariat, with the support of various other organizations played a vital role in securing and funding technical expertise to assist member countries in developing good and relevant statistical data sets.
The minister expressed appreciation to key organizations that supported the work of the Community in the work of statistics, including the European Union, Inter-American Development Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency, Statistics Canada, and various agencies within the UN System.