Changing characteristics worry UG head

Guyana Chronicle
June 29, 1999

VICE Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG), Professor Harold Lutchman, is worried about the changing characteristics among some people in the Guyanese society.

He feels that in some areas of Guyanese life, characteristics which had served to identify and distinguish some individuals from others, have been blurred beyond recognition.

"In terms of behaviour, dress and speech, one should be able to identify who is a university student and who is not.

"And, the same should obviously be the case between a teacher and a non-teacher, or a public servant and a non-public servant", he pointed out.

He made the observation last Thursday while delivering the feature address at the 71st graduation exercise of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), at the National Cultural Centre, Georgetown.

Referring to events during the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) strike which ended last week, Lutchman said persons enter into negotiation and discussion from such entrenched positions, with such hostility for the "other side" and on the basis of such assumptions, that they simply do not hear what the other party is saying.

"Emotionalism is substituted for reason to the point where little or no attention is paid to the consequences of behaviour on future social relationships and more generally on the society at large".

Lutchman observed that one often gets the impression that strategies and tactics are planned and adopted in "machiavellian" terms, with the end justifying the means, threats, coercion and even the use of force as substitutes for reasoned arguments.

"In the process, sight could be lost of the fact that after the matters in dispute are settled, persons have to live and work together and that this is rendered difficult, if not impossible, where it is preceded by anger and bitterness".

He said authority, power structures and administration, which are vital to successful management, tend to be eroded or break down completely in such circumstances.

This eventually results in adverse consequences for the organisation and society as a whole.

"One does not readily and easily move from a situation in which slogans and other statements insulting and disrespectful of those in authority are used, to one of regard and respect for them after the matter in dispute is resolved".

The top UG official added that there is, particularly in Guyana where persons tend to be reluctant to put events behind them, a "residue of bitterness" characterising future working and social relationships.

"Only the myopic or those blinded by prejudice of a certain type, would wish to deny that the Guyanese society is in serious crisis...

"It is far from achieving the level of integration which many feel it should if it is to develop and move forward".

Lutchman said this was evident in the ready resort to racial interpretations and explanations of phenomena which often bear no meaningful relationship to these elements.

"All of this demonstrates that the Guyanese reality is both complex and complicated and presents those who are engaged in the field of education with a number of unique challenges and opportunities", he said.

The educator urged that matters of such importance be addressed both frontally and nationally, with various professional, groups and individuals playing an integral part in this effort. (SHARON LALL)

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples