ISAE Flourishes Under Demand for Statistics Services in Africa
The Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (ISAE) was established in July of 1969 with initial support from the United Nations Development Programme to meet the need for high-level training of professional statisticians in eastern and southern Africa. ISAE coordinated the Bachelor of Science degree in statistics before the Bachelor of Statistics degree was started in 1975. The program’s express purpose was to train professional statisticians for government statistical services. Since its inception, ISAE has trained more than 3,000 professional statisticians, quantitative economists, actuarial scientists, and population scientists.
The Millennium Development Goals, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PDF), and other national policies provide the framework for ISAE, and ISAE operates under Makerere University on all academic matters via the Board of Advisory Council, comprised of the vice chancellor and academic registrar of the university and representatives from the regional governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
In 1985, the Postgraduate Diploma in statistics was launched, followed by the Master of Statistics in 1987. ISAE has expanded its undergraduate and postgraduate programs to accommodate both government and privately sponsored students. The undergraduate programs now include a Bachelor of Science degree in quantitative economics, actuarial science, business statistics, and population studies. Postgraduate programs include the Postgraduate Diploma in demography; Master of Science in quantitative economics, population and reproductive health, and population studies; and Master of Arts in demography and population and development.
All programs emphasize practical aspects and on-the-job training, with a requisite level of theory and methods. In 2007, the university made 10-week field attachment training for undergraduate students mandatory, and more than 50% of the students were attached to central government ministries, local government departments, civil society organizations, and private-sector organizations. The field attachment was organized in collaboration with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, with financial support from the European Union.
To address the skill gaps among the working community, ISAE conducts the following biannual short courses:
- Regional Workshop on Economic Statistics and National Accounts
- Regional Workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation of Population Programs
- A Practical Approach to Data Analysis Using STATA and SPSS for Researchers and Private Consultants
- Data Analysis Using EPIINFO
- Regional Workshop on Agricultural Statistics
- Data Processing and Data Communication in Africa
- Compilation and Computation of Consumer Price Indices
These courses are internally developed and designed based on the needs of stakeholders. They focus on practical skills in applied statistics, economics, and data management.
Key research areas of ISAE staff members are socioeconomic surveys, longitudinal studies, actuarial science, population issues, economic statistics, information and technological communication, and HIV/AIDS.
ISAE also runs a professional consultancy bureau, Makerere Statistical Consult Limited, which undertakes research in statistics, policy, population, computing, and applied economics. The team of consultants is comprised of senior academic staff members who have provided services for a number of governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.