Feature: Towards a Successful 2010 Census
The importance of census was known before Jesus Christ was born according to the Biblical account of the birth of the saviour of the world. Caesar Augustus, the Emperor of the Roman Empire ordered that all the people should be counted and the parents of Jesus went to their home town Bethlehem to be counted.
This shows that census is not any modern day invention.
Today, census is still vital as it provides among other things up to date demographic and socio-economic characteristics at the national, regional and district levels, give the total number of key characteristics of persons and housing types in every town or village.
It also affords the country the opportunity of revising its electoral areas and constituencies; provides an up-to-date sampling frame for the country and also provides results that are critical references to ensure equity in the distribution of the national resources.
Census information also assists the Government; Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies in planning how to distribute their various educational; health; housing and other socio-economic services.
But today the word count which is the lay man's understanding of census is said to be a taboo in some parts of the country.
At a recent capacity building workshop for reporters and stringers of the Ghana News Agency in Ho on the effective coverage of the 2010 Population and Housing Census (PHC), this piece of information, which the Ghana Statistical Service might not be privy to came up for prolonged discussion.
Participants from that part of the country where counting of people was considered a taboo, said their people believe that it is the dead that are counted not the living and anyone who tried to count the living risked the wrath of the people.
In some other parts of the country it is said to be an insult to count people because the belief is that only animals are counted.
This disclosure was a wake-up call to the GSS to appoint only persons from the Enumeration Areas to conduct the census and drum it home to them to take the sensibilities of the local people into consideration in their choice of words.
It is also crucial that the media especially radio and television presenters exercise great circumspection in the choice of vocabulary when carrying out education on the census especially in the local languages.
It is, therefore, important that alternative words for "counting" in the various local languages be adopted for the various census slogans such as "We Are Counting On You For The Census Counting"; "Census 2010: A Count For Everyone"; "Everyone Counts"; "2010 PHC: Get Involved And Get Counted"; "Be Counted To Count In Ghana's Development"; "Keep Pace With Ghana's Development And Be Counted"; "Get Your Rightful Place In Ghana And Be Counted" and "It Counts To Be Counted".