History of the University of Guyana, 1986-1987
History This Week
By Arlene Munro
Stabroek News
December 16, 2005

Related Links: Articles on heritage
Letters Menu Archival Menu

The University of Guyana has a fascinating history. Today, I will continue my chronological study of this institution. Due to the unavailability of reports, I have limited my study to the Faculty of Agriculture and the University Library for the academic year 1986/1987.

During that year the Faculty of Agriculture received a grant from the Guyana Sugar Corporation Ltd to erect offices for members of staff. The building was scheduled to be completed in September 1989. A draft proposal was submitted to the Guyana Cooperative Agricul-tural and Industrial Develop-ment Bank for its comments and suggestions before the University applied for a loan to finance developmental work on the University Farm.

The four best graduates of the Faculty of Agriculture were employed as Assistant Lecturers in 1986. The faculty had thirteen full-time staff. One staff member, D.P Surujpaul, resigned.

Graduating students performed better than in the previous year. Edun H. Warsalie won the Vice-Chancellor's Special Award in 1986-1987. He also won seven other prizes. He was the best graduating student in the Faculty of Agriculture. During that year a decision was made to obtain a shield for the best graduate in soil science. The shield would be donated by a Guyanese professor of Soil Science.

Non-graduate awards were also presented. Vivakanand Lalbachan won four prizes. Claire Basil won the Bernard Gonsalves Memorial Award. Both Patrick E.K. Chesney and Winston M.O. Thompson received the Guyana National Trading Corporation Ltd. Award for the best Second-Year Student.

Students of the Faculty took courses offered by other faculties such as MTH 151, ENG 102, and CST 101. Faculty members taught courses in other faculties, e.g. the Faculties of Natural Sciences and Health Sciences. E.A. Hubbard taught taxonomy while D. Permaul, P. Persaud, and J.C. Octive taught Nutrition and Agriculture.

The Faculty of Agriculture continued the world of teaching and research in spite of its inadequate facilities. During the academic year Dr. F.H. Asiedu continued research on the Creole Fowl, and did a comparative study of commercial poultry ration. He also researched the effects of copra meal and wheat middlings-based diets on the growth of pigs. Dr. Johnson published 'Storage and Utilisation of Brewers Wet Grains in Diets for Lactating Dairy Cows' and 'Aerobic Storage and utilisation of Ammonia-treated Distillers Wet Grains for Lactating Diary Cows'. Both articles were published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

O.P. Homenauth published 'Efficiency and Response of Sunflower to Rate and Timing of banded Nitrogen' in the Comm.Soil Science Plant. Anal. He also published 'Petiole and Leaf Nitrate Nitrogen Studies in Sunflower' in the same journal.

The Academic Board approved the recommendations of the Faculty of Agriculture on the re-introduction of Animal Physiology in the curriculum of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture and the revision of the course Agricultural Biochemistry. It also approved the reorganisation of course weighting and the number of examination papers and practical examinations for the courses.

In April-May 1986 the Faculty of Agriculture joined with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Technology, in developing a Diploma programme in Agriculture Engineering. It also developed the First-Year Course for principles of Agriculture.

During 1986/1987 a multi-enterprise (mixed farm) plan was developed with the assistance of GAIBANK and was submitted to the Bank. The manager of the university farm resigned. The income from the farm rose during the year. As usual, student projects and practical exercises were carried out on the farm.

The UNIGUY/IDB Sub Programme 'A' was developed for the University's benefit. The Sub-programme was part of the Guyana Human Resources Training and Development Programme. During the year the fellowship and internship training programmes, the disciplines and schedules of the visiting professors and new academic staff and the farm machinery and equipment list were finalised and approved. At the end of the year Dindyal Permaul, Pooran Persaud, Jerome C. Octive and Patsy A. Francis proceeded on staff development.

During the academic year 1986/87 the University Library faced several problems, for example, electricity failures, disruptions in water supply, malfunctioning air-conditioning systems, and inadequate lighting. It was difficult to obtain supplies for Xerox services and the Bindery.

J.W Formson, a Librarian from Botswana, was appointed Head of Technical Services. The Library received its first microcomputer through the UNESCO programme. Three staff members received training awards.

Two professional librarians were appointed that year. The three senior staff who secured training awards received them through British Technical Assistance, the Commonwealth Universities Award and the IDB student revolving loan scheme. They were Yvonne Lancaster, Hazel Woolford, and Dennis Gonsalves. A Senior Library Assistant was recommended for term release to read for a degree. The United States Information Service assisted the Library by hosting seminars, which were conducted by Professor William Jackson from the University of Texas.

The Library operated under a reduced budget. Therefore, it was difficult to maintain resources consistent with the needs of teaching and research at university level. The Library also had problems obtaining stationary and bookbinding supplies. It was unable to repair furniture, the building and the leaking roof.

As usual, a stock verification exercise was conducted. It was done in the Division of Humanities and Education. Although many reports were made during the year about damage caused by leaking roofs, no action was taken. Books and dividing walls were affected by this. The stock verification exercise revealed the damage.

The Library assisted the public by providing information, literature searches and bibliographies. It also trained personnel in the field of cataloguing. Some members of staff were involved in consultancy activities in the field of library information and documentation activities. Others served in advisory capacities to government and other agencies. Staff also participated in public lectures, radio programmes, and panel discussions. They served on National Committees.

The Library continued to be interested in regional databases such as CARISPLAN, CVARINDEX, CAGRIS, and AGRIS/AGRINTER. The University Library was designated the national focal point for CARISPLAN and was given the task of coordinating the indexing of local socio-economic information for input into the Regional database. Members of staff who served on the Interim Committee and other bodies attempted to revive plans for a National Information System.

In the Cataloguing Department a total of 2,519 items were catalogued during the academic year 1986/1987. In view of the fact that the Department lacked staff, the level of production was commendable. The Department trained Government Librarians and staff from other agencies.

Although there was no normal book budget due to the financial position of the country, the Library was able to acquire new publications through gifts from national and foreign governments, agencies, organisations and individuals. The Acquisitions Department acquired 4,209 items during the year. The British Council gave a grant to the University for the development of the Law Library. The Netherlands Government under the Books Presentation Programme offered a grant of 20,000 florins. The United States Information Service donated to the Library a valuable collection of current Caribbean imprints. Through the NUFFIC Periodicals Project thousands of back issues of science journals were received by the Library. CARDI, IICA, UNESCO, PAHO, and WHO also made donations to the Library. Gifts were also donated by President Hugh Desmond Hoyte, Prime Minister Hamilton Green, the Indian High Commission, the Netherlands Government, the British High Commission, the Cuban Embassy, Adrian Thompson, Mary Noel Menezes, and the United Nations.

The Law Collection acquired Caribbean law reports and other legal publications of Commonwealth Caribbean territories. The Caribbean Research Library received from the United States Information Service current Caribbean material published in the United States. Due to the lack of staff in the Cataloguing Division, many books in the Caribbean Research Library were not catalogued. Some Fullbright professors did extensive research in the Caribbean Research Library during the year.

In conclusion, the reports reveal that the academic year 1987/1987 was a productive one. Academic staff published articles in journals and continued their research programmes. Some staff members received training awards, enabling them to study overseas through British Technical Assistance, the Commonwealth Universities and the Inter-American Development Bank student revolving loan scheme.

In spite of the paucity of finances for the ordering of books, the University Library was able to acquire books and journals from local donors and international agencies. The Faculty of Agriculture also received assistance from the Guyana Sugar Corporation Ltd in its building programme. It is regrettable that more reports were not available for a comprehensive study of the University during 1986-1987.