Greater involvement of Berbicians crucial if new campus to survive
-Dr James Rose

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
November 21, 2000

Berbicians were urged on Sunday to support the Berbice Campus of the University of Guyana and to contribute towards its development. The calls were made in separate addresses by President Bharrat Jagdeo, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. James Rose, and Head of the Berbice Campus Task Force, Dr. Marlene Cox at the official opening of the campus at Tain, Lower Corentyne, some 13 miles from New Amsterdam.

The Head of State urged the community to support the government and the university's administration since the two bodies were not in a position to do everything. He called on Berbicians to ensure that their children enjoy a better life through the opportunity of an education which he described as the key to the new century.

Dr Rose in his presentation expressed concern that despite the presence of a number of academics in Berbice, the response to advertisements for staff at the campus was disappointing.

"If the Berbice campus is to survive and grow there has to be a greater involvement of Berbicians. The present dependence on Turkeyen lecturers cannot be in the best interest of the campus," he emphasised. He also expressed the hope that the campus will be given an opportunity to grow and develop to its full potential.

Referring to the legal controversy over the acquisition of the John's Ville Senior Citizens Home to house the campus, Dr. Rose said the issue has remained in "the proverbial limbo" since February. He appealed to the Head of State to expedite the acquisition of the land and building to allow for the provision of adequate facilities at the two sites. There is a dispute over the arrangements for the sale of the land. In his address President Jagdeo had said emphatically "I am going to take that land whether they like it or not".

According to Dr. Rose, "there is urgent need for laboratories, additional classrooms, an administration block and an adequate library." Describing the establishment of the campus as "a qualitative leap into the future" the Vice-Chancellor urged President Jagdeo to be "responsive to the needs of the Berbice community."

According to Dr. Cox there will be urgent need for additional classrooms next September when more students are expected to enroll. The present capacity of the Tain Annexe is said to be 200 students while its present population is approximately 162.

"At the moment some of the larger classes with more than 40 students are taught at the nearby Tain Primary school," she said, noting the need for "proper offices for lecturers, an expansion of the library, a standby generator and an administrative block."

Dr. Cox reiterated the need for the issue of the John's Ville Senior Citizens Home to be settled expeditiously to facilitate the necessary expansion of the campus. She also called on the business community in Berbice to assist in whatever way possible in the upgrading and development of the campus.

Chairman of the proceedings, Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Joshua Ramsammy in his remarks said there will be no hegemony of one campus over another.

Hundreds of Berbicians and other Guyanese from all walks of life attended the afternoon event which was described as "a red-letter day" and a "historic occasion". Among those present were Ministers Reepu Daman Persaud, Clement Rohee, Dale Bisnauth, Harripersaud Nokta and Vibert DeSouza; Mayor Roy Baijnauth of Corriverton, Regional Chairman, Rohit Persaud, members of the university council and administration, as well as lecturers and senior education officials.

Traffic along the Corentyne highway in the vicinity of the campus was reduced to a snail's pace with scores of vehicles lining both sides of the roadway outside the campus.

Several schoolchildren, including girls, were left stranded after dark and were forced to wend their way home on foot, some over long distances. According to the students they were instructed to attend the opening by their teachers but no provision was made for them to return home after the ceremony.

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