UWI Executive Director stresses need for culture of continuous learning

Guyana Chronicle
May 30, 1999

A country "without ...vision and a driving power behind education, has no place in tomorrow".

This was the charge delivered by Dr Bhoendradat Tewari, Executive Director, Institute of Business, University of the West Indies (UWI) to local entrepreneurs at the Guyana Manufacturer's Association (GMA) gala dinner held Friday evening at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown.

Stressing that education is pivotal to progress in Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean, Dr Tewari, a former Trinidad and Tobago Government Minister emphasised that knowledged accelerates the globalised economy.

As a consequence, Governments must take the lead in ensuring that learning and training, key elements for participation in the global market, are accessible by the entire population.

"Access to a sound, basic education is integral to any development strategy in this market-driven world," Tewari emphasised , speaking on the topic `New rules for a new game: The challenge of the Global Market'.

He explained though that education is not merely data or information, but "data...transformed into information and applied to create things including wealth."

The UWI official disclosed that although Caribbean countries spend more on learning and training than any other developing region globally, its labour force has an average of only five years of schooling.

Despite the emphasis on learning in the region, "...there is every indication that the present education system is not meeting the productive sectors needs. Currently, education systems in our region are becoming dysfunctional and lack the ability to respond to the demands of the labour force or the requirements of the marketplace," Tewari noted.

Pressing his case, he told the large gathering which included President Janet Jagan, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Michael Shree Chan and members of the diplomatic community, that Guyana and the Caribbean "cannot enter the 21st century without...a culture of continuous learning."

"We have moved into the era in which the decisive impact is going to be made by creative education and creative management.

The former, Tewari said, gives its holders the chance to play a meaningful role in the economic system.

"Education that is relevant and seeks to provide individuals with the ability to succeed in the global market to be globally competitive is absolutely crucial at this time," he stated.

The Caribbean and Latin America have the fastest growing young population, and consequently, there should be a primary focus on education and training for regional progress, he reiterated.

To complement learning, Tewari called for specialised training for workers to properly manage "systems that are part of the global economy."

Without this expertise "you have no capacity either to receive or deliver...You do not even have absorptive capacity for the things that might come," he said during his keynote address.

He said too, that trade, investment and strategies for development will take the Caribbean "forward into the future." But this will not flourish if the macro-economic fundamentals are not in place, if the general environment in a country is not business-friendly and if politicians are not responsible and responsive to the demands of tomorrow and the requirements of "good governance as opposed to just good Government," Tewari stated.

Calling for linkages, partnerships, collaborative relationships and alliances with strategic trading partners, he noted that any country which collaborates and is prepared to engage, "can win significant benefits such as the expansion of export, sources of investment, the transfer of technology and an accelerated rate of human resource development."

Without significant investments, countries such as Guyana can be further marginalised in an increasingly integrating and globalised market place.

He acknowledged though, that while foreign investment is not necessarily a "panacea" for progress in the Caribbean, it "can be a significant stimulus to trade, to employment and to economic expansion."

Tewari said escaping from the economic difficulties and plunging into global competitiveness and economic growth need more than structural adjustment reforms "supervised by international agencies"

No country can move forward and improve the standard of living of its people unless

it places a clear, unequivocal emphasis on trade, investment and development, he said.

"Any country serious about its future must take the time to pull together the required resources and put in place the necessary foundation to achieve success in these three inter-related areas," he said.

Banks DIH Limited, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd. (GT&T), Liana Cane Interior Ltd., Gafsons Industries Ltd., Guyana Furniture Manufacturing Ltd., Bulkan Timber Works Incorporated, Demerara Oxygen Company (DOCOL) Ltd and Edward Beharry and Company Ltd. won GMA awards.

Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) won the inaugural President's Award for export achievement last year.

Kayman Sankar and Company Ltd. captured the runner-up spot ,while IDS Holdings, Chin's Manufacturing Company and Berbice Mining Enterprise (BERMINE) were honourably mentioned.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples