UG Career Day
Graduates from education sector leave much to be desired - Reis
Stabroek News
February 22, 2003

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Managing Director of Banks DIH, Clifford Reis says that from the perspective of a member of the Private Sector and as a manufacturer, the quality of the product produced by the country’s education sector leaves much to be desired.

Reis was at the time speaking at the University of Guyana Open Career Day and the launching of its 40th Anniversary activities at the Turkeyen Campus yesterday.

The open career day was held to enable employers and employees to bridge the labour market information gap and to foster a better understanding of each other’s expectations. A number of activities have been planned for the anniversary celebrations.

According to Reis, the anniversary theme, “A time to reconnect” evokes thoughts of attempts to link past activities with the present as a bridge to the future whether it is one of success, or regret over lost opportunities.

He noted that every year the university graduates scores of students who have attended the institution for four years and more, yet they have not mastered the art of acquiring knowledge and learning.

He said “(for) most of them, their entry into the world of work proves to be a painful and a costly exercise in self-revelation for both themselves and their prospective employers.”

“Somewhere along the road, we have lost our determination, our commitment to achieve the highest standard of performance and delivery in every area of the education process.”

He observed that sometimes one gets the impression that mediocrity has become acceptable as the standard by which success is measured.

Reis told the gathering that the commitment to achieve high standards of performance must be clearly demonstrated by both the University of Guyana and the students who attend it. He noted that it was very depressing to hear the many negative statements made in various segments of society about the university.

Reis argued that the country’s institutions of learning must be equipped to deliver high standards in terms of the quality of teaching and the structures which are put in place to support and uphold quality delivery systems.

Referring to the anniversary theme, Reis told the students that it is time for them to be reintroduced or to be reconnected to the belief in the attainable ideal of high standards in every aspect of life.

“You need to be convinced that such standards are not pie in the sky, highly questionable promises made by diverse politicians across the political spectrum and only attainable in New York or some other place other than here at home.”

He asserted that there was a time when the creation of wealth was considered by some to be the selfish pursuit of the capitalist class and profit was just another dirty word. “I say to you today that the responsibility of this institution of learning is to teach and encourage our students in the creation of wealth to benefit the nation.”

Reis pointed out that the challenge in this age is to utilise technology, to create wealth and at the university there must be a commitment to provide the highest quality of teaching and leadership.

He pointed out that his company currently employs 29 graduates from various faculties of UG and at present there are four students who are enrolled under the Peter D’Aguiar Memorial Scholarship Fund who will be part of future graduating classes. To those who are contemplating enrolment and to those who are currently pursuing their careers at the university, Reis encouraged that they should make the most of their life and their dreams.

Meanwhile, in launching the 40th anniversary of the institution, President Bharrat Jagdeo said he was pleased to be a part of the university.

The President remarked that it is hoped that at the conclusion of the anniversary activities the university will recognise that its strength and resources exceed those located at Turkeyen and (the) Tain (Berbice Campus). “I would expect that the current student body would have developed a greater sense of pride in the university.”

According to the Guyanese Head of State, the university students must become defenders of its academic integrity through their scholarship and they must be the guardians and protectors of its reputation through their conduct.

The President observed that during the journey to its 40th year of existence, the university encountered storms, weathered rough waves, but it had risen above all its trials to become the premier learning institution in the country.

He said in his view, there should be no tension in finding the balance between the maintenance of academic excellence and simultaneously ensuring societal relevance. “As you embark upon your celebration I am sure you would notice that universities are adopting measures (from) the practices of industries without harm to their academic enterprise.

Commenting on the Open Career Day, Jagdeo said “I believe that UG is on the correct path when it enters fruitful and productive partnerships with the private sector.”

He said too that he was encouraged at learning that the university’s administration with the full support of the academic staff is prepared to address students’ complaints that are well-founded, and in his view this will build greater confidence in the impartiality of the institution’s methods and systems.

Jagdeo urged the UG administration to restore the role of external examiners and ensure that lecturers honour their obligations in a timely and efficient manner. He also called for the right of students to appeal and the establishment of impartial review and complaints boards as some of the ordinary confidence building measures.

Among the companies and businesses that exhibited booths at the Open Career Day activity were: Banks DIH, DDL, the EPA, Eureka Medical Lab, GBC, GDF, the Guyana Forestry Commission, GPF, GNBS, the Guyana Prison Service, Guyana Publications Inc., the GRA, GRDB, GT&T, the Laparkan Group of Companies, Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, Linden Mining Enterprise, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Georgetown Public Hospital, Ram & McRae, and Youth Challenge Guyana.

Vice-Chancellor of UG, Dr James Rose gave the welcome remarks at the ceremony which was attended by members of the academic corps, scores of schoolchildren, students of UG and special invitees.

Calestous Juma, Chancellor of UG, donated $2M to the university as his anniversary gift. (Nigel Williams)

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