The Eastern Africa Statistical Training Centre (EASTC) as a professional institution, right from its conceptualization, had its ‘regional roots’ way back in the year 1961. The archive at the Centre reveals that in July 1961 in Tunis (TUNISIA), the Second Conference of African Statisticians noted that it “was necessary to establish a number of training centres to provide theoretical and particular courses” in Africa to respond to the increased demands on statistical services, given the fact that there was an acute shortage of both middle-grade and professional statisticians. The Conference also noted that training professional statisticians is a highly specialized task, which can be undertaken only by well-established colleges.
For that reason, at the third Conference of the African Statisticians in October, 1963, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) agreed to assist in the establishment of a statistical training centre for the East African sub-region i.e. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Therefore, at a meeting held on 11th February, 1964, at the Headquarters of East African Community (then known as the East Africa Common Services Organization (EACSO), it was agreed that United Nations (UN) would provide, besides a Director for such a Centre, UN Fellowships and equipment for it. It was finally decided to locate the training Centre at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Centre started functioning at Dar es Salaam from 30th of August 1965. To start with, it was handling only Middle Level Training Courses i.e. Certificate, but from July 1966 it was upgraded to impart training at Intermediate Level i.e. Diploma as well. The courses included: Ancillary subjects; Applied Statistical method; Elements of Probability Theory; Numerical Analysis; Official Statistics; and Practical Statistics.
The main objectives of the Centre, at that time, were to organise training of middle level statistical personnel for African countries; and to arrange for the participation of the trainees in the field surveys organised by the East African Community (EAC) and the participating countries.
In 1972, the UNDP ended its support and the East African Community (successor to EACSO) took full control of the Centre until 1977 when the EAC collapsed. The Statistical Training Programme for Africa (STPA) took over from 1979 to 1993.
EASTC Confirmed as a Regional Institution
One of the resolutions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Executive Committee Resolution ECO (XVIII) RES 9 on the Statistical Training Programme for Africa (STPA), and the Household Survey Capability Programme (HSCP) endorsed the adoption of the Statistical Training Programme for Africa (STPA) prepared by the 10th Conference of African Statisticians in 1977. The STPA noted the existence of the East Africa Statistical Training Centre located in Dar es Salaam, (Tanzania) as a training institution run by the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Kenya and Republic of Uganda as an inter- governmental institution designed to pool efforts in training sub-professional level statistical cadres for its members.
Later on, a joint meeting between STPA and the Advisory Board of the East African Statistical Training Centre at its 22nd and 23rd meetings on 24th November, 1977 and 6th February, 1978 respectively came up with a resolution that the Centre should remain regional and should be expanded to serve more states in Eastern Africa sub-region in addition to the partners of the former East African Community and in Africa in general.
In the Agreement of establishing the Eastern Africa Statistical Training Centre as a regional institution, which was signed by the Executive Secretary of UNECA in 1980, UNECA expressed its gratitude to the Governments of the Republic of Kenya, Republic of Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania for their unanimous decision to have the East African Statistical Training Centre regionalized.
However, in 1993, before the end of STPA programme, UNECA requested the Government of Tanzania to take care of the Centre until such time that UNECA would be ready to take over. In view of this, the consent of the user countries was required before the Government of Tanzania could agree to the request by UNECA. This was to make sure that the Centre’s nature of being a regional institution should be maintained. Eventually, the consent was obtained with the condition that all user countries would be allowed to avail themselves the services and premises of the Centre. Therefore, a protocol that gave them the right to use EASTC facilities and services was signed to that effect, and the Government of Tanzania committed itself to take care of the Centre before it would be given back to UNECA.
EASTC has continued to be a regional statistical institution serving Anglophone Africa, but owned by eighteen (18) user countries, namely: Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Converting EASTC to a Higher Learning Institution
In the early 2000s many African Governments began to employ university statistics graduates, who had studied only theoretical statistics. Due to lack of Official Statisticians, most National Statistical Offices (NSOs) had no choice but to recruit the theoretical statisticians who essentially cannot meet the requirements of Official Statistics. For that matter, therefore, EASTC member countries requested EASTC to design a degree programme in Official Statistics. In order to fulfil this requirement, in 2012 EASTC was accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Technical Education (NACTE) as a higher learning institution in order to be able to offer degree courses. In the same year, therefore, EASTC started offering the first degree i.e. Bachelor in Official Statistics (BOS) alongside the Certificate and Diploma courses.
In addition to that, a good number of NSOs also realized that they had to immediately transform their university graduate statisticians who had theoretical statistics into Official Statisticians. EASTC took this gap as an opportunity to introduce graduate programmes, and the result was the introduction of the Master’s Degree in Official Statistics (MOS), which was launched in April 2014. The first batch comprises students from National Statistical Offices of Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Furthermore, to back up the current campaign of improving Agricultural and Rural Statistics as per Global Strategy, EASTC is to launch the Master’s Degree in Agricultural Statistics (MAS) in October 2015 in collaboration with IASRI and SUA, as well as a PhD programme in Official Statistics which aims at producing top-level Official Statisticians and Researchers to serve the African National Statistical Systems. The rationale of PhD in Official Statistics is to prepare leaders and managers of Statistical Offices in Africa who have vast experience in Official Statistical activities, and to enable them to acquire academic qualifications which make them be official researchers. Thus, any PhD candidate must be nominated by the respective Head of NSO in his/her country.
The EASTC is located on Observation Hill, thirteen kilometres west of Dar es Salaam City centre. The campus is within Changanyikeni Hamlet on the western side of the University of Dar es Salaam, at a distance of one and a half kilometres from the Administration Block of the University, and it shares a common border with the University itself.