We have long been a training ground for the benefit of others
Stabroek News
January 24, 2002

Dear Editor,

It has occurred to me that Guyanese like to blame themselves and/or external forces for the plight that we are in. The recent episode of teachers willing to go somewhere else is a case in point. I want us all to look at the situation differently. Let us make what appears to be a vice a virtue, as my debate coach used to say.

Here is one problem we have been grappling with for centuries, yes centuries. That is the problem of migration or shall we call it the mobility of our people. We like to move or we want to move. We even educate people to be out of the jurisdiction even though the motto of the University of Guyana says "Serve Guyana".

So why not take the concept of the University of Guyana and make it work for us literally. I want to propose that we make the whole of Guyana one huge University Country. It will be like any other University Town in the developed countries. The professors, the facilities, the supporting services are all there but the people who come to the University feel no real obligation to remain there to work unless there is work there. Let us face it that is how Guyanese have felt for centuries. We were born here yes, we learn here yes, but we earn elsewhere or at least we yearn to earn elsewhere.

Here's what we do. We continue to train teachers for the schools, colleges and universities in various locations to educate the people. We invite other students to come from various countries to come to school here. We then advertise that we have the skills and encourage companies from around the world to conduct massive recruitment drives here.

How do we make money? How do Universities make money? Cost Recovery from the students, Contributions from the Companies, the State, International Organisations and Alumni, Research and Development etc. Then of course the spin-off industries are there. The airports would be teeming with students, visiting professors, recruiters, book, computer and other salesmen, entertainers, anxious parents and friends. The hotel, housing, food, entertainment, stationery, souvenir among other industries would all kick in. Each school would have competing sports teams, Cricket, Soccer, Tennis, Squash, Boat Racing (imagine the excitement as the Turkeyen Campus comes up against the Tain Campus in the Annual Boat Race from Madewini to the Demerara Harbour Bridge with the Beharry Blimp capturing the action live!)

In this era of globalisation, we really can benefit from what we have been doing for years, educating and exporting our skilled people and our finest talent. The thousands of Guyanese abroad who have done exceedingly well are the best advertisements for our system and our Grand University of Guyana Plan. We will also benefit when some of those abroad want to retire or return for reunions to the warm climes of Kato or Paramakatoi.

All of this may sound to some of you as my usual flippant and facetious self but think about it we have indeed been a training ground for the benefit of others, so why not simply institutionalise it and allow us to benefit as a country. Guyana will become one Huge Teaching (Training) Country. A country school, The First and Only One of Its Kind in The World where students (and at times teachers) just learn and leave.

Oh, by the way, From time to time, students love to protest and boy do we now how to handle that too.

Yours faithfully,

Enrico Woolford