The struggle always continues Editorial
Stabroek News
November 20, 2001

In his address at the recent graduation ceremony at the University of Guyana the acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr James Rose, outlined a number of the problems facing the university, some of them widely recognised. He referred to the university's dependence on a cadre of young and inexperienced lecturers which made it difficult to ensure the required levels of competence and its inability to recruit staff at the levels of senior lecturer and professor. He referred to extra large classes, cramped classrooms, and inadequate library facilities. He referred to the absence of research by academics and their disturbing reluctance to take sabbathical and study leave for scholarly activities. Annual staff review, he said, is undermined by excessive peer-sentimentality.

It was a sobering review of the quality of our premier institution of learning. Yet in his graduation address Dr Ian Mc Donald offered another necessary perspective. Dr Mc Donald said: "This University is of immense importance to Guyana. We all read the headlines about the problems, difficulties, shortcomings and setbacks at the University. And the acting Vice-Chancellor certainly gave a full and no doubt necessary count of the challenges facing UG in his address. What we perhaps read less about are the quiet, daily, persistent constructive endeavors of scores of University staff and thousands of University students to master all difficulties and setbacks so as to produce that steady, accumulating, essential stream of trained Guyanese who will be leaders in every field in this country and beyond in the future. That is the basic news which makes all the other stories of problems shrink in significance and we should all remember that. Members of UG, staff and students, you should not too easily forget your achievements".

Dr Mc Donald went on to advise students that their primary task is to cultivate, train and exercise the intellect. The university must, he said, be a place where ideas contend and where the various disciplines compete, correct and balance each other. Yet perhaps the real significance of this event was that it shows clearly that a fairly substantial number of young Guyanese are still imbued with the desire to learn and make progress, and are willing to carry out the hard study necessary for this. Despite all the problems and though standards may be far from ideal people are still striving, trying to get ahead. The struggle continues.

There is the ongoing dichotomy in this country between the overwhelming desire of ordinary people for peace, stability and development and the unsettling and confrontational nature of our politics. The one contradicts the other, it is as if people are caught in a political trap and can't find a way out. It is that deep political division, and the energy consumed by it, that seem to undermine everything else.

Dr Mc Donald urged the graduates to be compassionate, and to use whatever power or influence they may acquire in their subsequent jobs wisely and considerately. "In advising you on this score" he said " I would just ask you to remember the importance of small causes. Do not concern yourself only with what the world at large considers the big issues and great undertakings; find time to deal with the problems and distresses that plague individual people. It is that which lies at the heart of what it means to be compassionate".