The Ghana Statistical Association (GSA) is raising red flags about the employment of non-statistical staff at various district assemblies as district statisticians.
The association warned that the practice posed great danger to development and management of state resources.
“It is important to note that statistics is not only a course but also a profession that requires appropriate training to be able to practice well.
“Without this training, the statistician can be a dangerous person who will not only mislead and misguide policy makers into taking wrong decisions, but also could lead to the wanton abuse and waste of scarce national resources,” the President of the association, Prof. Nicholas N. N. Nsowah-Nuamah, said.
Speaking at the association’s first International Statistics Conference in Accra last Tuesday, he stated that statistics did not appear to be seen as a profession in the country.
The one-day conference brought together statisticians from Ghana and parts of Africa to dialogue on issues affecting the statistics fraternity as well as their role in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The conference was on the theme “Statistics: necessary companion in achieving.”
“My information is that fresh appointees with different non-statistical educational backgrounds are appointed district statisticians to man statistical activities in the districts when we have a large number of degree holders in statistics.
“Why should it be so? Can it ever happen that the district accounting officer has no background in accounting? How can it be that these fresh, non-statistics graduates are expected to perform the role as technical statistical officers without any tutelage at the head office or regional office?” Prof. Nsowah-Nuamah, asked.
“If you don’t get the people who have gone through the training and you employ for instance, an accounting officer to be a district statistician or sociologist to be a district statistician or a planning officer, then the country is in trouble,” he said.
He said the practice could not be excused because there were a lot of graduates with statistical background who had been trained and were looking for jobs.
Prof. Nsowah-Nuamah said a major challenge hindering the growth of the profession in Ghana was that it lacked regulation, hence opening its doors for just anyone to enter, adding that elsewhere the profession was regulated and practitioners licensed.
“In the UK, they have what we call chartered statisticians.
There is no profession you can practice without a licence.
Doctors, engineers, nursing, accountants, lawyers, doctors and more recently teachers are licensed before they could practice,” he said.
Sanitising statistical practice
He said the association was considering working with Parliament to introduce a bill to sanitise the profession.
“It is my candid view that as a profession, the association should establish the Ghana Institute of Chartered Statisticians (GICS) or the Ghana Institute of Professional Statisticians (GIPS), which will give accreditation to individuals to practice as statisticians.
“This will help the appropriate use of statistics and make the results of our work more reliable and dependable,” he said.
A former Government Statistician, Dr Philomena Nyarko, eulogised the role of statisticians in nation building, saying that while data was numbers its interpretation to get quality was the work of statisticians.