Jagdeo to examine Inter-Guianas conference proposals

Stabroek News
October 25, 2002

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President Bharrat Jagdeo says he will accept a list of recommendations emerging from the Inter-Guianas University Conference with a view to implementing some of them.

In an address to declare open the Fifth International Inter-Guianas University Conference at the Umana Yana in Kingston on Tuesday afternoon, Jagdeo said he was prepared to accept the recommendations if they were forwarded to the government and assured the organisers that these would be taken seriously. Through this avenue, he said, people would have a realistic chance of finding their recommendations becoming policies and being implemented.

He admitted that there was a lack of enthusiasm by policymakers to encourage the academic community to do more in terms of research and to readily accept that research.

While treating issues in an academic way, he asked the conference participants to spend some time reviewing how many of their past findings have influenced policy-making.

He said that he has reviewed some of the issues discussed in the past and in spite of the "wonderful recommendations" there was not much enthusiasm by the policy-makers to accept many of the findings. Academics have a job of not just to churn out findings but to make sure that they are translated into something to benefit people's lives, he said. "If that does not happen then people would accuse you of living in ivory towers."

Jagdeo said he was saddened by the insularity evident at policy-making levels in the region. A lot of this, he said, may have been because of the type of information given out and the work done by the mass media which has resulted in the creation of "enemy images" of each other. This insularity, he said was harming the Guianas instead of bringing them together.

The charge in dismantling the barriers of insularity must be led by academia, he said adding that it cannot be led by any other group in society. He said if the politicians and the government try to break the barriers of insularity people would say that "there is an ulterior motive behind it."

Expressing the hope that the issue of insularity will come up for discussion he said participants should look at how to create a climate so that discussions, negotiations and policy-making give effect to resource sharing.

He said he has concluded that because of insularity, resources in the Guianas were not being utilised to benefit the people. He said people are still trapped in the concept of sovereignty and nationality and want to remain insular while the world is moving by.

On the issue of globalisation, which is a topic down for discussion in the plenary, Jagdeo said small countries like those of the Guianas were not prepared to deal with the range of issues thrown on the international agenda.

Decisions made and implemented with great rapidity have tremendous impact on the lives of citizens causing dislocation in Third World countries, he said.

Also delivering brief remarks were Suriname's Minister of Education and Community Development Walter Sandriman who noted that it was important for the University of Guyana and Suriname's university to play a more active part in their countries' developments.

Sandriman said that both universities need to be directly involved in the productive sector, find solutions to economic problems as well as identify viable production systems. The inter-Guianas conference, he said was an integral part of the region and could deliver a substantial contribution to the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), chairmanship of which body he assumed on Wednesday. (Miranda La Rose)