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November 20 ,2020

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Dear Editor,

On November 18, 2020, the Regional HQ of The University of the West Indies issued the Media Release titled `UWI going to Guyana’ stating that Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali had invited UWI “to help drive forward Guyana’s human resource development strategy.”

The anticipated engagement adds a new dimension to the long relations between UWI and Guyana. Our relations are primal. Guyana was there, virtually from UWI’s UCWI beginnings in 1948. Guyana and Guyanese have been dedicated and valuable contributors to the respect that UWI has earned as an international university.

The “UWI going to Guyana” Media Release ought to have invoked a feeling that we are at the start of a new moment in Guyanese and Caribbean tertiary education. A regional response to the task of saving our fragile and stressed planet. Depressingly, it is not the case!

Current deconstruction of responses to the release reveals hurt and evidence of the reassertion of the insensitive style and tactics that have characterized the first 100 days of President Irfaan Ali’s administration.

The absence of reference to the University of Guyana in the media release is seen as a snub and disrespectful of the national university. This further suggests that the “UWI going to Guyana” relationship is a cold transactional one. A reading of the Media Release, suggests that The University of the West Indies, has an available knowledge pool to deliver in Guyana for a price. The potential market is “20,000 nationals over the next five years.” At current market rates for credible online tertiary-level education, UWI is poised to earn a very tidy sum of Guyana’s national treasure.

This is seen as the Guyana as an ATM perspective.

Our fragile planet, stressed by power-hungry politics and the consequences of polluted environments, desperately seeks an integration and application of knowledge. This is about the survival of the human species. How do we as a species survive and thrive and, in the process, create just and caring societies? These questions and this quest have been perennial.

For almost twelve centuries, the university has been the place for this act of integration, synthesis, and the creation of new knowledge about the world we live in, how things work, and what is possible.

Guyana is an exciting mode in a nascent Caribbean-inflected international tertiary education environment. Guyana’s reality—geography, terrain, flora, fauna, hydrology, mineralogy, history, politics, and its living culture—is a crucial variable in our understanding of the big picture context and in preparing for a future which aspires to be just and caring.

We have played unnecessary politics with the national university since its creation in 1963. The time has come to grow-up! Guyana is getting to a place where for the next 20 – 40 years, the national wealth could increase by hitherto unimagined levels. This will be the function of the recently discovered oil and gas. However large the declared quantities are, it is a finite resource. Oil and gas will come to an end. We need to be thinking about what lies beyond oil and gas.

The Media Release from The Univer-sity of the West Indies suggests an already predetermined package to be delivered “aggressively.” Surely, a more appropriate and respectful trajectory should be establishing and institutionalizing an era of reciprocity. A win-win strategy. Not a zero-sum game. One that will benefit the regional tertiary education system with innovative teaching and learning, robust research, and transforming service.

A lingering question is whether, this engagement with UWI is associated with Professor Jacob Opadeyi. Professor Opadeyi, a faculty member at UWI, St. Augustine was formerly UG’s Vice Chan-cellor (2013-2016). Professor Opadeyi who is in some way associated with President Ali doctoral work at UWI, St. Augustine, was recently appointed as Special Projects Officer in Guyana’s Ministry of Education. During his tenure as Vice Chancellor, Professor Opadeyi “was awarded a US$193,000 contract for the digitization of immovable property records and the establishment of an electronic database with linkage to the sub-registries of the Deeds Registry.”

We have played unnecessary politics with the national university since its creation in 1963. It is time we give it a chance to grow and flourish.

Yours faithfully,

Vibert Cambridge, Ph.D., A.A.

Last edited by Django
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This proposed arrangement between Guyana and UWI raises many questions

Dear Editor,

The University of the West Indies informed the region via a press release on November 19th, 2020, that it is on the verge of signing an agreement with Guyana to facilitate the training of over 20,000 nationals over the next 5 years.

I am concerned about the way this has been advanced as I see several loopholes that can be exploited for the wrong purposes. One of the major issues the APNU+AFC administration faced was placing persons who received scholarships from the Government of Guyana under the previous PPP-led administration. The major reason for this was that scholarships were awarded  to persons without an assessment of the needs of the public service and thus upon the completion of their studies, many graduates could not be properly placed, if placed at all, because no Ministry or government agency had an apparent need for the skills that were attained.

The shift that is taking place in our society demands a systematic survey of the human resource needs of the public service, and the country in general. The Department of the Public Service under my stewardship created a strategic plan that required first and foremost a Human Resource Needs Assessment Survey that should have been catered for in the 2020 budget to take into consideration the following:

An appreciation of the areas in the public service that may require specific expertise to ensure that the new industries that are blossoming can be adequately serviced and regulated.

A review of  all the work permits being granted would also give an indication  of  the skillsets needed that we do not have locally and a decision needs to be made on  the most efficient approach to  having our citizens acquire these skillsets.  This would eventually reduce the need for companies to continue requesting the large number of permits, currently sought on a monthly basis, for foreigners to enter Guyana to take advantage of emerging job opportunities.

Research is also needed, on the potential upline and downline jobs that could  be created in the short, medium and long term surrounding the oil and gas industry as well as other areas where government or Public-Private investments will be made to ensure the economy is sufficiently diversified.

The aforementioned press release states that President Ali “has identified all areas of Human Resource Development that Guyana is urgently in need of.” There are so many questions that need to be answered. How did they arrive at the number 20,000? By what process were these areas identified? Was a decision made as to how many persons are needed for each area of study? Is this eligible for only persons who want to work in the public service or will this be available to all Guyanese? What criteria will be used to determine who gets to study what programme? Will Guyanese be able to just choose their area of interest, as what obtained in the past or will there be a selection process, based on the findings of a transparently conducted needs assessment?

This leads me to my other concern which is why UWI? I have no personal problem with the University of the West Indies but one glance at the Open Campus website shows that the programmes offered are significantly limited compared to the skillsets, already established to be required. Thus, since it would cost UWI to create an array of new programmes and find new lecturers to meet our needs, we can be sure that our tax dollars would ultimately be paying for that.

This begs the question: would it not be smarter to spend our resources on our National University as well as our vocational institutions?

When it comes to the education of our society, the development of our education institutions and who has access to the educational opportunities that are made available, we all need to ensure that our tax dollars are being utilized responsibly, in an equitable manner by  providing  for the needs of all Guyanese. I do not have all the information,  Editor, but this arrangement  between Guyana and UWI clearly leaves us with more questions than answers and I hope that those of us who have an interest in the development of both our Vocational Institutions and our National University, will pay keen attention to this strange new deal.

Yours faithfully,

Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, MP

@Totaram posted:

Ting na regula, ting na regula!  Know that song?  I have been singing it about Ali and UWI for a long time. Ting na regula, ting na regula!

Ali's first 100 days in office is very progressive. It doesn't matter which university he studied at. You really can't see past your nose. Your hatred for the PPP characterizes the attitude and your behaviour towards them due to unforeseen circumstances. Maybe you can tell us what they are.

@Ramakant-P posted:

Ali's first 100 days in office is very progressive. It doesn't matter which university he studied at. You really can't see past your nose. Your hatred for the PPP characterizes the attitude and your behaviour towards them due to unforeseen circumstances. Maybe you can tell us what they are.

Ali's first 100 days in office have been nothing more than misstep after misstep.  He is really not very bright and on top of that he is a crook surrounded by crooks.  The misstep currently in the news, the attempted sidelining of UG, is yet another example of a leader who is not in touch with reality or history.  The University of Guyana came about because of Cheddi Jagan's efforts.  He wanted a national university and jump started it with evening classes at Queen's College.  Jagdeo and Ali are hell bent on destroying Jagan's glorious legacy. 

@Totaram posted:

Ali's first 100 days in office have been nothing more than misstep after misstep.  He is really not very bright and on top of that he is a crook surrounded by crooks.  The misstep currently in the news, the attempted sidelining of UG, is yet another example of a leader who is not in touch with reality or history.  The University of Guyana came about because of Cheddi Jagan's efforts.  He wanted a national university and jump started it with evening classes at Queen's College.  Jagdeo and Ali are hell bent on destroying Jagan's glorious legacy.

You are very foolish to think so. It is a progressive effort by Jagdeo and Ali to want to merge the two institutes of higher learning.  UG's diplomas currently pass for grass in Canada. How many people got jobs in Canada with a UG diploma?

@Ramakant-P posted:

You are very foolish to think so. It is a progressive effort by Jagdeo and Ali to want to merge the two institutes of higher learning.  UG's diplomas currently pass for grass in Canada. How many people got jobs in Canada with a UG diploma?

You are an ass to think UG's diplomas pass for grass in Canada.

@Mitwah posted:

You are an ass to think UG's diplomas pass for grass in Canada.

OH really.  You didn't answer my question.  Your response is typical of a Guyana coolie sitting on the bridge top cracking stupid jokes.

@Ramakant-P posted:

OH really.  You didn't answer my question.  Your response is typical of a Guyana coolie sitting on the bridge top cracking stupid jokes.

You are so schupid. Your question is schupid.  Schupidness na gat cure.

@Totaram posted:

Ali's first 100 days in office have been nothing more than misstep after misstep.  He is really not very bright and on top of that he is a crook surrounded by crooks.  The misstep currently in the news, the attempted sidelining of UG, is yet another example of a leader who is not in touch with reality or history.  The University of Guyana came about because of Cheddi Jagan's efforts.  He wanted a national university and jump started it with evening classes at Queen's College.  Jagdeo and Ali are hell bent on destroying Jagan's glorious legacy.

Since when you cared about Jagan's communist idealogy.

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