Location for UG Berbice Campus raises concern

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
May 23, 1999

Back in January, 1994 a group of professionals and concerned Berbicians formed a steering committee with the aim of exploring the possibility of establishing a Satellite University Campus in the Ancient County.

The committee was headed by attorney-at-law, Joseph Anamayah and included a number of educators with Senior Counsel, Milton Persaud, as its legal adviser. The committee also included Bermine's former administrative manager, Norman Semple; then Co-ordinator of the Adult Education Association (AEA) Berbice branch, R. Mangal; former education officer, E. Heyliger; Guysuco's then office manager, Albion Estate, Deo Ramsarran and deputy town clerk, Patricia Stewart, among others. The committee was launched during a visit on January 20 to New Amsterdam by a five-member University of Guyana (UG) team led by registrar, A. Butters.

The establishment of the committee was born out of an age-old need for improved tertiary education in East and West Berbice. Since the establishment of the University of Guyana, Berbicians desirous of attending that institution have been confronted with the difficulties of obtaining accommodation close to the campus and financing their overall upkeep away from home. New Amsterdam's Mayor, Errol Alphonso, one of the main advocates of the project, initiated a fund at that meeting with a donation of $10,000 from his family-owned company, H.C. Alphonso and Sons.

Following a number of hiccups and administrative wrangling, a plot of land was identified in the vicinity of the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) and in close proximity to the Berbice High School, the Regional Public Health Department's headquarters and the Forte Canje Psychiatric hospital. The committee then proceeded to apply for the land which was allocated last year by the Regional Democratic Council of Region Six. The land was surveyed and the title is in the name of the vice-chancellor of the University of Guyana. The land is bound on the east by the New St. Aloysius Primary school, on the west by the Corentyne Highway, north by NATI and to the south by the Berbice High School.

According to a source it was the committee's understanding that a site plan would have been developed by the university and a response was being awaited. The committee had also issued questionnaires to interested persons in Regions Five and Six who had indicated their areas of academic interest. This was done according to the source, on the advice of the university. The committee, sources say, was therefore shocked to learn of Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo's remarks recently that government was looking at a site at John's Port Mourant on the Corentyne as a possible location for the campus. According to the source, the committee was neither contacted nor consulted by the government or the minister on the matter. It seems as if the work of the committee is being thrown out of the window, the source told Stabroek News.

A page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples