Former Pro-Chancellor pleads with UG graduates to stay By Jeune Bailey Van-Keric
Guyana Chronicle
November 25, 2003

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FORMER Pro-Chancellor, Dr Martin Boodhoo, last Saturday, made an impassioned plea to graduates of University of Guyana (UG) Berbice Campus to remain and help build Guyana.

He said, despite the fact that UG has produced thousands of graduates over the last 37 years, this country is still suffering from a shortage of qualified and experienced personnel in many fields.

The management consultant acknowledged that migration has had and is having a deleterious and debilitating impact on performance capability in both the public and private sectors of the economy as well as on non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Boodhoo warned the graduands that they will also face this temptation.

“But I exhort you never to give up on your country and your alma mater. To those who may be persuaded to go overseas, let me caution you to act as loyal ambassadors of Guyana. You should never forget the allegiance you owe to our Guyana, ever remembering that nature has implanted in your breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment to the country from whence you derived your birth and early nurture.”

His advice to the graduating group was: “Go and seek your fortune abroad if you must. But never give up your mother country. Don’t allow the ‘get rich quick’ syndrome to rule your life and get you entangled in corrupt, dishonest and immoral transactions…whenever you can, lend a helping hand to build this University and our country.”

Boodhoo spoke on the Tain, Corentyne, Berbice Campus, where 117 students graduated at an open air ceremony staged for second convocation there.

Among those receiving prizes were Jasodra Ramsaran, who was adjudged the ‘Best Graduating Student’ and received the National Bank of Industry and Commerce (NBIC) award as well as other gifts from Laparkan and Banks DIH, for being the best graduate from the Diploma in Accountancy programme.

Pamela Rose, the ‘Second Best Graduating Student’, copped the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) and New Building Society (NBS) awards as well as the Austin’s Bookstore prize for being the best graduate from the Diploma in Arts and General Studies (English) programme.

Alan Samaroo received the Banks DIH award for being the graduating student who attained at least a pass with credit and has made the greatest contribution in other areas of University activities.

Several more faculty awards and prizes were also handed out by recently appointed Pro-Chancellor, Dr Prem Misir, who said he was proud to perform the task and wished the recipients well in the future.

Boodhoo, who was guest speaker, urged the graduating group to reflect on the many physical, financial and societal obstacles encountered and, with the experiences gained, face the challenges ahead with more confidence.

He told them to have a vision to achieve their goals because “without a vision, a people would perish.”

“I, therefore, urge you to chart your course, trim your sails and guide your rudder to realise your dream…turn the imagery of your dreams into the reality of your goals.”

Boodhoo said, apart from their personal ambitions, the graduates must not forget that there are citizens of Guyana who contributed to their education and would expect them to play their part in the national development of this country.

According to him, the main function of a university is to produce men and women and professionals who are well educated in the liberal arts and sciences and, at the same time, mould them to become mature persons both in character and attitude.

Boodhoo said: “Degrees and diplomas indicate a certain level of knowledge and skills but one may ask: ’What about qualities, such as reliability, tolerance, thoughtfulness, resilience, humility and, above all, a sense of humour and willingness to give and take’.”

Quoting Sir Arthur Lewis, then Chancellor of UG at the first convocation on January 13, 1968, Boodhoo repeated that “the University does not exist solely to provide for instruction in a specialised field or to prepare you for an examination. But if, after you have been to university, you acquire no higher purpose to your membership of this community, you deserve no forgiveness.”

He noted that the university has fulfilled its responsibility in teaching and testing but said it is the corresponding obligation of each of the graduate to inculcate those attitudes and values which will make them respectable in life, useful to mankind and a much sought after candidate in the market place of employment.

“As potential future leaders of our country, you, no doubt, already recognised that we live in a constantly changing competitive world. To cope with change is undoubtedly a test of your knowledge and skills as well as your entrepreneurial capabilities,” he warned the graduates.

Boodhoo went on: “Our survival in a globalised world depends on our capacity and determination to produce goods and services of a marketable quality, at an internationally competitive price. In this regard, the contribution of each citizen and, more especially, those among you who are numbered and have had the benefit of tertiary education and training would determine whether we succeed or fail.”

He said another challenge is that people in developing countries have to run where others have walked as citizens clamour for and, in many cases, demand a higher quality of life.

“The flames for narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor are fanned on a daily basis through the international demonstrative effect of the media. In this regard also, you the graduands and those to come after you would have to face the heat and endeavour to find ways and means of riding the turbulent waters that surround us,” Boodhoo lectured.

He said, in order for any university to carry out its mandate and play a purposeful role in the national development process, it must have adequate resources and that is a cardinal consideration for maintaining and enhancing standards of excellence.

Without doubt, Boodhoo said, the ever present challenge of any university is how to reconcile the financial capacity of the benefactors and beneficiaries with the need for cost effectiveness, coupled with the canons of transparency and accountability.

“Notwithstanding the limited resources at our disposal, equal access to higher education should be a norm in all developing countries and, in this regard, it must be recognised that a bold step was taken to establish the Berbice Campus, which was long overdue and the ‘doubting Thomases’ ought to recognise that is now a reality.”

He said the arguments for it and the subsequent establishment of a national university and allied campuses in other geographic regions of the country are plausibly exemplified by empirical evidence.

“Now that the Berbice Campus is here, all citizens, especially Berbicians at home and abroad should make a special effort to support it both financially and academically. I am of the view that the University authorities should continue to promote the optimal level of people participation so that this campus would further reach out to the business community, farmers, women and youth groups, non-governmental organisations and, indeed, the entire community, causing it to become an example of a people’s campus shedding the rays of excellence and enlightened aspirations of generations yet to come,”Boodhoo added.

He agreed that education is not an end in itself but emphasised that it is a valuable tool to improve the quality of life both at the societal and personal level and without morality is a weapon for corruption and exploitation.

“Tread carefully and avoid such temptations in your future professional role,” Boodhoo cautioned.

He quoted, too, from Mexican writer Don Miquel Ruiz, while recommending some guideposts to the graduands, telling them they are to be impeccable with words, not to take anything personally nor make assumptions and always do their best