University of Guyana challenges

Guyana Chronicle
November 16, 1999

THE University of Guyana Saturday held its 33rd convocation in which the largest batch of students to date graduated.

The growing number of students at the university is testimony to its relevance in the society but the Turkeyen administration and the government continue to face daunting questions about the country's only institution of its kind.

There are plans to expand the University of Guyana campus to Berbice to broaden its national scope and so that more students can access a university education without too much cost.

A campus site has already been identified and a Berbice campus of the university is expected to become a reality soon.

The University of Guyana's historic graduation last Saturday, however, again brought to the fore some home truths which the authorities have to face up to.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Harold Lutchman, defended UG's contributions to nation building while acknowledging that "many of the institution's programmes are not geared specifically for national development."

This is a surprising admission which should make the administrators of education in this country sit up and take note.

So what is UG gearing to produce in the main, if not people raring and ready to take up the awesome challenges of national development in a poor, struggling country that has already gone through more than its fair share of purgatory for many years?

For example, information technology is creating a vast new world at almost lightning speed, already changing the way major international companies are doing business.

In this world, a country like Guyana will remain mired in the backwaters if it does not pick itself up by the bootstraps and hurtle down the information highway to catch up.

And in this arena, an institution like the University of Guyana cannot be lagging behind - it should be in the forefront of the education improvement drive that leaders in this hemisphere have identified as the major challenge for the new millennium.

UG has to be in the vanguard of producing people to meet the awesome needs of national development and Professor Lutchman's report at the graduation has to be assessed and acted on with some urgency.

The university cannot be intent on producing more and more people for the public service, for example, when that avenue of employment is fast beginning to dry up.

As Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon noted yesterday, even the role of permanent secretaries in the public service is under close scrutiny and nothing can any longer be taken for granted in what has for long been an institution in this country.

The home truths related to UG unfurled last Saturday have to be acted on before it is too late.

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