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Delivering the keynote address at their graduation, held at UG’s Turkeyen campus, Chief Justice Singh said that he trusts those who graduated will have the resolve to apply their newly acquired knowledge in this country. He noted that, within recent times, many people, including teachers, nurses and other skilled categories, have been migrating for better job prospects and pay, after qualifying locally, observing that Guyana, in its present state of underdevelopment, can hardly afford the export of skills to other countries when they are needed right here.
Chief Justice Singh told the more than 700 graduands that their achievement relates not only to their personal development but will ultimately impact on national development, adding that successful completion of their studies entitles them to promotional opportunities in the world of employment where there is always scope for upward mobility and that is what makes continued learning so crucial.
The Chief Justice said he believes one of the concepts underlying open and distance education is the promotion of lifelong educational opportunity and the courses offered by IDCE last year were relevant in many areas where educational advancement can only endure to the benefit of large numbers of people. He noted that apart from the core subjects, english language and mathematics, people were also coursed in tourism and hospitality, guidance and counseling, early childhood education, marketing, industrial relations and international relations.
Remarking on the range of subjects in the graduands’ syllabus, the Chief Justice said “The spread is consistent with the objective of IDCE which is primarily to provide learning opportunities that would help develop the capacity of adult individuals to participate more effectively in the process of change.”
Highlighting some areas where professional skills are needed to enhance Guyana’s development, the Chief Justice noted that a foreign group has been awarded a management contract in the water sector. Although that was a very telling disclosure, he was of the view that the social and economic realities which cause many skilled and trained Guyanese to leave for destinations abroad cannot be ignored.
“However, despite the current difficult circumstances this country faces, the social disquiet and other constraints in the way of an improved quality of life should not result in the dilution of a patriotic fervour” the Chief Justice said. Restoring certain employment related abnormalities and remedying some of the negative influences that overwhelm Guyanese society are areas where graduands can make a significant contribution, he added.
Reflecting on the deterioration in orderliness and discipline which obtained in this society during the years of British administration, Chief Justice Singh remarked on the drastic change. He noted that crude behaviour, lawlessness and disrespect, particularly among young people, have substantially enveloped the society. Reciting examples of the decline in standards and departure from traditional modes of behaviour that were once acceptable, the Chief Justice pointed to the conduct of persons entrusted with serving the public. “Visits to public offices reveal the lack of punctuality and slum appearance of many employees and easily provide the opportunity for exposure to trauma, resulting from blunt discourtesy”, he said.
The Chief Justice lamented the quality entertainment and behaviour modifying materials on the airways. He blamed the content of movies screened, which promote violence, the songs we hear that lack meaningful lyrics and melody, yet played at ear shattering levels are among the influences that have led to the deterioration of standards in our country.
Graduands, Chief Justice Singh suggested, can make a difference by striving to be punctual at work, being neat in appearance and helpful, courteous and polite to those with whom they come into contract. Adding that discipline and efficiency can mark the turning point in the country and he urged the graduates to take up the challenge.
IDCE Director Samuel Small reported that during the 2001/ 2002 academic year, the Georgetown Centre offered 25 evening courses to 848 students, with two full time and 44 part time academic staff at five locations. This level of output, he said was achieved, despite shrinking educational budgets and increasing student numbers with diverse educational needs..
Director Small stressed the great necessity for IDCE and UG to help the urban, rural and hinterland areas take advantage of information technology, observing that access to education will promote personal, professional and community development.