NSA determined to make data easily accessible

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Windhoek

The Statistician-General of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Alex Shimwafeni, says the organisation is working to make data more easily and widely accessible, taking the geographic and demographic features of the country into account. He said the NSA would make an announcement to this effect in the near future.

Shimwafeni made the remarks yesterday during a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The MoU focuses on priority areas, which both institutions will collaborate on to advance common goals in higher education.

He said the purpose of the MoU is to commit to the development and improvement of the higher education statistics in Namibia. “This will be done by, amongst others, minimising and reducing the duplication of resources and ensuring cost-effective methods on other resources of higher education data, including administrative and other relevant records,” he noted.

Exact initiatives will include joint research, publications, seminars, workshops and conferences, both from a participation and organising perspective. The parties will also look at joint training in relevant software usage, information collection, forms design, data collection and data entry, data cleaning, data analysis and data dissemination.

He stated the Namibian Statistics System (NSS) is decentralized, as the NSA has various agencies and ministries also taking up the tasks of collecting statistics for their respective sectors. Therefore, he cautioned that NSA’s task of coordinating the NSS should not be misconstrued with policing, but should be viewed as professional assistance and expert advice by the agency.

He said the end result off a well-coordinated NSS for any country would yield better results in terms of quality of the data produced by the statistical system, meaningful findings from various researches as well as enlightening and conclusive statistical reports that can properly guide policymakers.

According to him, quality statistics are not only essential for own use in terms of giving an overview picture as well as for planning purposes but for international comparisons for benchmark purposed, as well as to guide potential investors in an evidence based manner. “This is the reason why the NSA subscribes to the statistical codes of international standards,” Shimwafeni added.

NCHE executive director Mocks Shivute said, like other countries, Namibia requires data to plan and formulate policies, adding that higher education statistics are important for employment planning, curriculum development and for guiding students in their career choices.

The Higher Education Act of 2006 mandates the NCHE, among others, to plan and formulate, promote the establishment of a coordinated higher education system; promote access of students to higher education institutions; as well as providing quality assurance in higher education.

To this end, Shivute said, the NCHE has developed the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), a tool devised to collect, process and disseminate data from the higher education institutions. Through HEMIS, NCHE has so far released two annual statistical publications.

“We are of the view that our data collection, management and dissemination capacity could be enhanced if we partner with the NSA. Surely, NSA is our giant in the field of statistics and, therefore, we are compelled to partner with them in order to enhance our capacity in… reaching out to our stakeholders in terms of statistics,” Shivute maintained.

He said the MoU enhances domestic use of national capacities so as to reduce dependency on external expertise, adding that this approach ties in well with Namibia’s national aspiration to develop by its skills base. “The use of local expertise will not only help cementing institutional memories, but it is also cost-effective in terms of pooling of resources and timely response to technical challenges,” he said.

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