SALDRU course sheds light on raw data

01 February 2007 | Story by Daniella Pollock

The Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at UCT recently completed an innovative summer course that teaches students the art of analysing survey data.

A total of 80 students attended a two-week course titled '˜Social Science Research Using Household Surveys', run jointly by SALDRU and researchers from the University of Michigan in the US. From the first year of the course nine years ago, all costs have been covered by the Mellon Foundation.

Using STATA, a software package used for statistical analysis, students learned how to understand vast quantities of data that illustrate South African life. These include household surveys conducted by Statistics South Africa and some of UCT's own social surveys such as the Cape Area Panel Study.

The course was divided into two parts. A group of 60 students, ranging from university students to staff from the Presidency, did the beginners' guide to using statistics. At the same time, 20 researchers came from as far afield as the National Treasury in Pretoria and the Department of Public Health in the Free State to attend a more advanced course in panel data analysis.

Director of SALDRU, Prof Murray Leibbrandt, said that South Africa is awash with economic and social data which can deliver useful policy insights if it is analysed appropriately.

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