Study of population must be rooted in science
October 30, 2017
Cape Town, South Africa: The Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, made an appeal to population scientist to ensure that the statistics they gathered were reported accurately as false figures could result in underdevelopment.
The minister was addressing delegates at the opening of the 28th International Population Conference (IPC) of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Sunday evening.
“The study of populations cannot be submitted to petty opinions of sudden impulse and superstition. It should be rooted in solid science,” Radebe said.
The aim of the IPC is to promote the scientific study of population, encourage exchange between researchers around the globe, and stimulate interest in population issues amongst government and non-governmental institutions.
Radebe said the building of a solid scientific base to solve problems current and future would require the world to go out there and build capacity.
He said capacity should harness current skills and expertise and give rise to young and upcoming offshoots “It requires a hand-holding to young and upcoming demographers, statisticians, economists and developmental scientists,” Radebe said.
The minister explained that Africa had a programme in place whereby Young African Statisticians meet every two years. “Young Africans can only succeed if they are part of a great global establishment. Scientific knowledge becomes meaningful if it is universal,” Radebe said.
Some of the themes of the conference the minister highlighted were education and labour. He called on the conference goers to use their “piercing intellect” to reveal to policy makers how to tackle education and its outcomes in terms of a productive labour force.
“This is most relevant in South Africa where one of the biggest challenges we have is that of unemployment,” Radebe said.
Radebe said nations invested a lot of resources to understand the number of people they lead and where and how these people lived and the quest to understand these issues had become important for both leaders and the citizenry.
He appealed to delegates attending the conference, and those who would follow in their footsteps, to remain true to form at all times.
“Those who measure should never succumb to any temptation whatsoever, or to submit to whatever pressure, to falsify the count of populations of the world. For, doing so will not only mean abdicating your responsibilities, but also dragooning the masses of the world on a road to underdevelopment, subversion and doom. “The study of populations cannot be submitted to petty opinions of sudden impulse and superstition. It should be rooted in solid science. And science requires fundamental understanding of the theoretical impetus at play,” he said.
The opening of the conference was attended by over 1000 delegates from around the world. It is hosted by Statistics South Africa and is being held for the first time in South Africa.
The event is held every four years and attracts population scientists, policymakers, civic organisation and government leaders from 131 countries.