800 graduate from IDCE programme By Shawnel Cudjoe
Guyana Chronicle
November 17, 2003

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'You have taken the first step; we look forward to seeing you continue taking opportunities that are offered.'
--Director Mr Samuel Small

THE approximately 800 students, who graduated yesterday from the University of Guyana's Institute of Distance and Continuing Education, were admonished to see the successful completion of their courses as evidence that they could achieve whatever they wanted.

Presenting the director's report was Mr. Samuel Small, AA, IDCE Director, who told the gathering at University Square, Turkeyen Campus, that across the country, some 2,167 persons were at present involved in the various courses as compared to 1,878 persons last year.

Mr Small also pointed out that some of the courses that were offered were Administrative Secretarial Courses, Care of the Elderly, Industrial Relations and Management Programme, Introduction to Social Work (One and Two), Marketing, Supervisory Management, Early Childhood Education and Academic Upgrading.

He noted that financial contributions for the mounting of the studies came from the United Nations Drug Control programme through the Ministry of Health; the Organisation of American States through the Ministry of Education; the United Nations Scientific Cultural and Educational Organisation (UNESCO), clubs such as the Rotary and Lions, and churches such as Anglican, Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist.

The Director said that as the needs of the various communities are established, further courses would be introduced to meet these demands in keeping with the outstanding contributions that the IDCE has made to the development of the Guyanese people.

According to Mr Small, the IDCE has been such a success that a sub- Centre will soon be established in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam).

The IDCE Director told the graduands, "You have taken the first step; we look forward to seeing you continue taking opportunities that are offered."

Delivering the feature address was Programme Manager, Human Resource Development of the CARICOM Secretariat Ms. Myrna Bernard, who told the students, "I urge you not to see the certificate as the completion of a course, but rather as evidence to yourself of the fact that you can learn what you want to learn."

Ms Bernard underscored the fact that by being successful at their training courses, the graduands have made themselves more employable while raising their self-esteem.

Focusing her remarks on the importance of approaching learning as a life-long journey, Ms Bernard cautioned the successful graduands about the rapid economic, social and technological changes taking place in the landscape of the country, and the many ways in which people's lives are being directly and indirectly affected.

As a result of these changes, Bernard said, businesses are searching for better economic climates in which to operate. Developing countries, therefore, face "an uphill task in achieving the level of economic competitiveness required for survival and success".

Effective and efficient use of the country's human resources is therefore necessary if certain objectives are to be achieved. This is why it is necessary for persons to acquire levels of education and skills in order to meet the demands of the changing times.

"Employers are now demanding a high level of education even for what we consider the most elementary of jobs," Ms Bernard explained.

In examining social issues responsible for the disintegration in the Caribbean, the speaker pointed out that violence plays an important part.

"Youth unemployment is a prominent feature in the Caribbean labour market in the 15-24 age range, and the rate is higher among females than in males," she said. Other factors were violent crimes, drugs, and students leaving secondary school without certificates.

Ms Bernard said that the subject of HIV/AIDS could not be eliminated from any list of social issues affecting the Caribbean region, especially since the rate of infection is second only to that of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms Bernard told the gathering, that taking all theses issues into consideration, the importance and relevance of a good education is something that cannot be ignored.

According to her, for social and economic cohesion to take place, a learning society is needed. The learning society celebrates and accepts learning of all types.

The development of the learning society depends heavily on a culture of life-long learning. The Institute of Distance and Continuing Education, has been playing a pivotal role in providing opportunities essential for learning in the past 27 years, she added.

Ms Bernard noted that over that period, several communities have benefited from many programmes, which have contributed to the employability of several persons.

Its role is highlighted through the provision of courses in a wide range of occupations. These courses have greatly contributed to alternative pathways as well as to the access of tertiary education, which are vital in ensuring the provision of skills needed for the nation's development, Ms Bernard concluded.