FAO STATISTICAL DEVELOPMENT SERIES
CONDUCTING AGRICULTURAL CENSUSES AND SURVEYS
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
The census training programme covers various categories of staff involved in census activities. Some of their training can be covered by educational facilities available in the country, universities or similar facilities (data processing, sampling, etc.). Training of census organizers concerns only a few technicians in a country and, if possible, should be covered by international training centres. The most important training is that of the field staff, enumerators and supervisors. In larger countries, this training may have to be organized at different levels, starting with the training of trainers, and be organized very early so these staff are trained in time to become available to work on census preparations.
This chapter describes training activities that may be organized at the international or national level, and provides a detailed programme for the training of enumerators and supervisors. The related topics are the Instruction Manuals (Chapter 11), Census Enumeration (Chapter 14) and the Organization of Field Work (Chapter 15), which represent the main activities of the field staff.
12.1 An agricultural census collects data on a number of agricultural operations and the methodology for obtaining such data may be different for individual items. The reference date is not the same for all items. The respondent often needs assistance in providing the required information, particularly in developing countries. Reporting is often complicated for respondents who do not know international units of measure. In large countries taking an agricultural census is very complex because of variability in the socio-economic structure between provinces. For this reason, the training of census staff, from top officials to census enumerators, should be organized in a planned and coordinated effort before each census.
12.2 The census organization would normally consist of various levels of employees. Some of the personnel would belong to the census organization while others - mainly enumerators and immediate supervisors - are either recruited for this purpose or taken on loan from another organization for the period of census enumeration. Different types of training programmes should be developed so that the training given be appropriate to the level of the task the trainee is expected to perform during the census operation. The following categories of employees are normally involved in census programmes:
12.3 Training needs for the above categories can be partly covered by existing educational facilities available in each country (viz., training in data processing, sampling, etc.). An important part of training has to be organized as part of the census preparation (viz., training of enumerators, supervisors and their trainers). Training of the senior census staff, such as census organizers and subject matter specialists (data processing, sampling, etc.) lacking knowledge and experience in census applications represents a problem as highly specialized training is not normally available in many countries. Senior census staff in countries with long census traditions receive on-the-job training. For countries with little or no tradition in census taking, international training should be organized.
12.4 Training may have to be organized at international centres for senior staff, at national training centres for middle-level executives and at various places within the country for enumerators and supervisors. Training for supervisors from the census organization who would mainly become trainers of enumerators might have to be organized in a different manner than training of supervisors taken on loan for the period of enumeration.
12.5 Great care has to be exercised in ensuring that content and timing of training programmes are appropriate for the level of personnel expected to be trained. Attention should also be given to developing proper training material for the training classes. If a census has been conducted in the past, the contents of the training materials may be up-dated by using the experiences of the previous census. Accommodation for training classes for trainees, and the supply of blackboards, projectors and other requisites for holding a class, have to be provided if the training programme is to become a success.
12.6 The requirements for training an adequate number of professional staff, particularly at advanced levels, and of agricultural census staff and data processing experts, should be considered well in advance of training. Countries requiring external assistance have to take necessary action to include such requirements in their programmes for technical assistance well ahead of the commencement of work on plans for their agricultural census.
Training at international centres
12.7 There is a need to provide long-term training in the various aspects of the agricultural census to persons who are to be entrusted with the overall responsibility of organizing and conducting the agricultural census. Developing countries should identify qualified persons for this training who will be placed in charge of the agricultural census. It is of the utmost importance that individuals who are nominated for these training courses are top officials with the requisite sense of responsibility.
12.8 This training could be conducted at an international level. There are a few international centres offering such courses which extend from a few weeks to a year. The training should be conducted at least three years before the date of commencement of the census in order that a period of two years is available to make proper preparations. The training should include all financial, organizational and technical aspects of the census. The training should include in particular:
12.10 A series of international courses is available on related subjects. FAO organizes a number of National Demonstration Centres (NDCs) for groups of neighbouring countries. NDCs are normally organized by a country preparing an agricultural census and, as part of requested preparation assistance, FAO can provide training for a period of three to four weeks to neighbouring countries using FAO technology and methodology.
Training at national centres
12.11 Persons trained at national training centres are likely to become very important in the census taking, and the success of the census operation will depend on the quality of their work and the enthusiasm they can generate among their co-workers and field staff. Their training should not only cover the enumeration work, but also cover the broader aspects of the agricultural census. These trained personnel can train enumerators and supervisors in census work and, subsequently, supervise their work. It would be desirable to include in the training plan the experience of past censuses and the use made of the data collected. Information regarding agricultural censuses carried out in other countries may also be useful training material particularly for countries not having census experience. Training should also cover the preparation and use of cartographic maps.
12.12 Actual contents of the training package for census staff will vary from country to country, depending on the status and development of agriculture. The broad areas on which emphasis in training should be made are as follows:
Duration and content of enumerator training courses
12.13 The number of enumerators in the agricultural census may be quite large, particularly in a large country organizing a complete enum eration census. In China, more than four million enumerators are considered necessary. It is clear that all these people cannot be trained at one centre and that many levels of training should be envisaged. Such training could be organized at a provincial level with a number of training centres established throughout local areas. Training should be unified and given at the same level by employing master trainers who could be trained in a central provincial office. Those engaged in training at these centres could be instructed originally at the master training centre. The master trainers could be selected from the headquarters' supervisory staff.
12.14 Instructions for and training of enumerators are most important because the quality of the census results depends almost wholly on enumerators. The instructions for enumerators, should be contained in well-prepared manuals written in simple local languages (see Chapter 11 Instruction Manuals). These manuals serve both as an instructional text and as a reference guide during enumeration. They have to be complete and offer guidance on all major and frequently encountered problems. Manuals should take into account prior training and knowledge acquired by personnel in previous work. Preparation of these manuals is a priority, and should be undertaken by persons with a thorough knowledge and experience in the subject matter, the design of the census, and the psychology of both data collection personnel and landholders. In the case of multi-language countries such manuals should be prepared in each of the local languages.
12.15 An important aim of enumerator training is to develop enumerators' capacity to motivate respondents to give complete and accurate answers. The training should also equip the enumerators with the knowledge and skills for doing their job well, since the census is an inquiry of a special technical nature. The enumerators should have certain qualifications, including knowledge of agriculture. The training should be oriented to prepare the enumerators to:
12.16 The length of training will depend on many factors, such as literacy of respondents, previous knowledge and experience of enumerators, content and design of questionnaires, or whether objective measurements are used. Generally, in developed countries, training of just a few days may suffice. In developing countries 8-10 days may be appropriate and even 12-15 days if objective measurements are used.
12.17 The following subjects may be included in the training programme:
Duration and content of supervisor training courses
12.18 Special emphasis should be given to the instructions for and training of supervisors. In view of the importance of the role of supervisors, they should have an intensive training programme. Normally, the field supervisory staff would be trained first by the technical officers of the executive agency responsible for the agricultural census. The supervisors will, in turn, train the enumerators or at least participate in the training. The training of the supervisory staff should also include items concerning the training of enumerators, and they themselves should be trained to become good enumerators. The supervisory staff should also be trained in the procedures for selection of enumerators (if they are given this task), publicity, preparation of field work reports, etc. They should be given actual practice in the methods of training enumerators and in checking enumerators' field work.
12.19 The training of supervisors will naturally take longer than the training of enumerators and should include field practice. The following subjects may be considered for inclusion in their training programme in addition to the subjects for enumerators.
Use of training aids
12.20 The quality of training can be improved considerably by making effective use of training aids. Lecturing continuously becomes dull and boring to trainees and training programmes fail if the trainees do not pay sufficient attention to what is being taught. Audio-visual aids are a great help in this respect. There is a need to ensure that every enumerator understands and applies various concepts, methods and definitions in the same way. This is particularly difficult to achieve in large countries where training has to be organized through several levels of training. Good training materials in general, and audio-visual training aids in particular, are very useful for ensuring uniformity of training throughout the country.
12.21 One of the most useful aids for trainees, to understand a subject, is a film or video. A film showing, for example, methods of interviewing holders, or agricultural and living conditions of the holders in the country, would be found to be very effective in preparing the trainees for field work. Unfortunately, films are somewhat expensive to produce. Inter-country cooperation in this regard might perhaps be organized for producing a good film at a lower cost for every country.
12.22 Slides are another less-expensive audio-visual aid. Slides can be produced easily but should be prepared with a specific plan in mind. It is possible to exhibit charts, etc., on slides. Projection equipment for slides is not expensive. It is more convincing to show a slide of a map showing the boundaries of a locality and explain how these boundaries are to be used in a listing operation. Such examples can be multiplied. Teaching with the assistance of slides shown at specific intervals would lead to better assimilation of the subject by the trainees.
12.23 Charts and graphs are also very useful as training aids. The colours used in drawing a chart should generally be quite bright. The charts should be large so that they are visible from every part of the classroom.
12.24 Overhead projectors and transparencies, and the blackboard, are also very effective training tools.
12.25 Generally, lectures should be interspersed with films or slide presentations. The supervisors might also need to be trained in using training aids in the classes for enumerators.
Training in writing inspection reports
12.26 Certain reports for each census worker (enumerator and supervisor) must be completed periodically (daily or weekly) in order to measure the progress of the censusoperation and to tighten the inter-relations of various processes. The aims of these reports are:
12.27 Enumerators and supervisors should be trained thoroughly in preparing these reports, which should be realistic and as simple as possible, with minimum data required to ensure the above aims. There should be different forms for the enumerator, the local supervisor, and the provincial coordinator.
FAO (1965). Some problems of agricultural census taking with special reference to developing countries (by V.G. Panse).
UN (1992). Handbook of population and housing censuses: Part I, Planning, organization and administration of population and housing censuses. Studies in methods, Series F, No. 54.