Introduction to Census
A Census is a stock taking of a country's people and the way they are living.
The two characteristics which make a census different from other statistical surveys, are that:
1) Everyone is enumerated
2) Everyone is enumerated at the same time
The census provides the government, businesses, individuals and other interested parties with information on the demographic, social and economic characteristics of the population as well as on housing, to help them find out exactly what it is the Seychellois people need to be able to plan properly. Without proper planning, economic or social development is not certain.
The constraints of time and high costs are the two most important factors that dictate the frequency of population census taking. The conventional time interval between censuses is ten years, although much depends on the rate of change in development of the economy and infrastructure.
Once in a while, the administrative or political requirements may give rise to an urgent need of a population count, as was the case for the 1997 Census. The main justification of carrying out the census then was to obtain population figures in preparation for the revision of the electoral district boundaries and electoral lists as stipulated in the constitution. It was ground preparatory work for the elections that took place in 1998. The exercise also served to update the base for current statistics and provided an up-to-date statistical frame for sample surveys and other research work.
The National Population Database, which has been principally updated by the previous census exercises and day to day registration of Vital Registration events consists of personal attributes. These are person's name, sex, date of birth, district of residence, nationality, mother's maiden names, place of register of birth and the folio number in the book of registration. The creation of the NPD also resulted with every person in Seychelles being issued with a unique National Identity Number and an Identity Card.
The census is carried out on a "de jure" basis, that is the people are counted according to where they usually live rather than where they were found at the time of the census.
The enumeration is usually done in August during the school holidays so as to employ the services of the teachers and the polytechnic students, who formed part of the potential available labour force.
The main topics of investigation included in the census are: housing, agriculture, population, employment, education, and the major components required for the validation of the NPD.
Basic questions on area location, the enumeration area number, form number and name of head of household provided a unique and necessary reference data for each household so that the national sample frame could be updated for future surveys.
The main demographic data for each member of household consisted of names, date of birth, sex, nationality, folio number (page number in the register of birth). Also included is whether the person was present, absent, visiting or abroad at the time of the census, mother's names and the place of registration at birth.
Housing & Household Facilities
This exercise sought to establish the stock of houses by type of various construction materials and their conditions.
Agriculture and Fishing
Questions distinguishing who carry out the usual backyard farming from those who do serious farming are asked. Similar questions are asked to identify the potential of the fishing sector from the household point.
Employment and Education
In order to assess the education level of the population particularly the working population, information on education attainment and employment is obtained from every person aged 12 years and above.
As with all censuses and surveys, it is very important to test the methodology, questionnaire, enumeration, supervision, coding and analysis on a small scale so as to ensure its viability.
The publicity for the census is one of the most important tasks in the pre-enumeration stage. This entails an educational campaign, the purpose of which is to enlist the interest and co-operation of the public. the census involves every person in the community and its success depends on the willingness and support of everyone. The radio, television and local newspapers provides coverage on population issues to sensitise public awareness.
Recruitment and Training of Census Officers
Teachers and polytechnic students are recruited and trained for the project. The training is done together both for supervisors and enumerators.