General issues and current concerns
Guyana Chronicle
December 6, 2002

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CAUGHT in the throes of globalisation and constrained by the limitations and disabilities peculiar to its third world origins, the University of Guyana (UG) finds itself at a most critical historical juncture. An overview of the main global trends reveals a series of concurrent, sometimes contradictory, processes of; democratisation, globalisation, rationalisation, polarisation, marginalisation and fragmentation. All of these have a profound bearing on the development of University education and each demands adequate coping responses if we are to remain relevant and indeed survive.

The widening gap between the developing and developed countries with regard to current conditions of University education and research is of particular concern to us. Indeed, the growing distance between levels attained by the UG as against regional institutions is a matter of distressing concern.

Equally important are the shifting imperatives of economic and technological development, and the modifications in development strategies, which embrace sustainable human development in which economic growth serves social development and ensures environmental sustainability. The search for solutions to the problems arising from these processes depends on education in general, and particularly on University education.

In a rapidly shrinking Universe, our University runs in the very real risk of losing its academic and training relevance if it does not immediately engage in a serious revaluation and meaningful restructuring of its role and function in today's society.

How can the UG organise to survive in such challenging environment?

The responses of the UG to a changing domestic and international situation must be informed by three key elements, which determine its national, regional and international standing and functioning. These elements are relevance, quality and internationalisation.

The relevance of the UG must be considered primarily in terms of its role and place in our fragile multi ethnic society, its functions with regard of teaching, research and the resulting services, as well as in terms of its links with the world of work in a broad sense, relations with the state and the public, and interactions with other levels and forms of education.

Quality has become a major concern both within and without the University community. This is because meeting both the needs and expectations of the Guyanese society depend ultimately on the quality of its staff, its programmes and its students, as well as its infrastructure and academic environment.

The internationalisation of the University is first of all a reflection of the universal character of learning and research. It is reinforced by the current processes of economic and political integration as well as by the growing need for intercultural understanding. International cooperation is based, above all, on partnership and the collective search for quality and relevance in our programmes and our delivery. The maintenance of standards in the face of deteriorating conditions at the University of Guyana suggests a critical need to invoke international solidarity. In this respect, it is important to promote those programmes and exchanges which reduce existing imbalances, and facilitate access to and transfer of knowledge.

In as much as we are inclined to commend the current efforts of the University to ensure the quality, currency, and relevance of the programmes it delivers very little will have been achieved if the more recent charges of racism, political partisanship and the sale of sexual indulgences are not investigated immediately and, if found to be true, treated condignly. The nation expects transparency and accountability to be accorded a similar priority as all other issues of concern in the ongoing process of University reform.

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