The Rupununi challenge for UG graduates
by Donald Sinclair
November 24, 1999
GRADUATES of the University of Guyana have had an exciting challenge thrown their way by President Bharrat Jagdeo.
He announced Monday that he is willing to consider waiving the repayment of fees for UG graduates who take up the challenge to teach in the Rupununi for a specified period.
This fits in with the notion that development has to be throughout the country and not just on the narrow coastal belt where the bulk of the population live and which, according to some, is already beginning to feel the effects of global warming and rising sea levels.
The real future of Guyana lies in moving inland and starting from the south in the Rupununi to the north could help bridge the gap faster.
Meaningful national development, however, cannot be accomplished without trained young people taking up the challenge of sacrificing city comforts and the bright lights to carve open the interior.
According to President Jagdeo at the formal commissioning of the Moco Moco hydropower project in the Rupununi, the challenge for UG graduates came up while he was moving around the area.
"It is an idea I have to discuss with my Cabinet colleagues...it was something that I formulated when I was going around here, and I saw the absence of many qualified teachers because of the remoteness of the area."
"I will propose to my Cabinet to think about waiving the charges for graduates of the University of Guyana who will come out and serve in these parts of the country for specified periods," he said.
This is an idea those on campus can get excited about, especially those for whom paying back around half-a-million dollars for a degree course may prove to be a burden.
Instead of working years to have the money deducted from their salaries, a stint teaching in areas where they are needed could help them ease that burden in a shorter period and at the same time make a vital contribution to national development.
The idea floated by the President in the Rupununi has a lot of promise, judging from the initial reactions of UG students and it deserves further exploration on its way to Cabinet.
Living in Lethem now should be a little more comfortable with electricity from the Moco Moco station and if business people take up the incentives of tax holidays for going there as promised by the President, that region could undergo some rapid changes.
As Mr Jagdeo recognised, "the country needs modern systems of management and people with a clear understanding of the world environment in which we live."
It also needs people grounded in science and technology because those are the areas driving development in today's world, he stressed.
"In Region Nine, we have embarked on a project to bring secondary education here because it is vital that the children do not remain at the primary level but that they go on to have secondary education," he said.
As a result, the government will be building a teachers training school at Annai in the Rupununi.
In the period of catching up, however, the waiving fees proposal offers an opportunity and a challenge for UG graduates who have a chance to take the idea on board and run with it.
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