History of the University of Guyana, 1988-1989
History This Week
By Arlene Munro
Stabroek News
March 3, 2005

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The academic year 1988-1989 started with the convocation ceremony of the new Vice-Chancellor, Sir Shridath Ramphal, and ended with a strike by the academic staff of the University of Guyana. The convocation ceremony of the new Vice-Chancellor was held on November 10, 1988. Due to the unavailability of Reports this article will focus on the Faculties of Arts, Education, Agriculture and Health Sciences.

A decrease in the number of graduates from all faculties was observed in 1988. The Faculty of Education had the highest number i.e. 31 graduates while the Faculty of Natural Sciences had the lowest number of 10. The decrease in statistics was partly due to the withdrawal of some students after two years of study because they did not want to do a stint of National Service.

The Inter-American Development Bank played a critical role in funding university projects. The University received library acquisitions as a result of the funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. In addition, there were visits of two Cambridge Educational Consultants, Gordon Brotherson of Essex and Frank Healey, to help the University analyse its problems.

During the academic year 1988-1989, the Faculty of Arts planned several outreach programmes. The History Department offered Summer Workshops for CXC History teachers in 1988.

The Modern Languages Department organised GCE 'A' Level and CXC Programmes as well as radio programmes. University Productions were sponsored by the Creative Arts Division and other staff and the Dean of the Faulty of Arts directed an artistic production. The University of Guyana staff wrote more articles in the press, made radio broadcasts and organised more exhibitions and seminars. The History Society which was formed in 1988 was quite involved in activities. It organised a book and magazine sale outside Guyana Stores and on campus.

In addition, History Gazettes were published by the History Society for the first time. There were University debates, drama competitions, and lunch-time concerts. The Division of Caribbean Studies organised a new course in traditional medical systems.

The staff of the Faculty of Arts performed professional services for the public e.g. interpreting and translation, editorship of the Arts Section of a bi-weekly newspaper, extension work in Amerindian Studies, environmental and resource management, English teaching services, contributions to the media, staff services as professional critics, and lectures and theatrical production.

The Faculty of Arts continued to offer cartographic services through Lenise Fredericks, Claudette Foo, Sylvia Johnson and Umadai Holall. The language laboratory also offered audio-technology related services through James Mingo.

James Rose and Roslin Khan, lectures in the Faculty of Arts, received Association of Commonwealth University scholarships. Dr Winston McGowan and Dr Adeola James were awarded Fullbright Fellowships.

There were new developments in the Faculty of Education during the academic years 1988-1989. Dr Alan Persico became Dean of the Faculty of Education and Emmamuddin Hoosain became Assistant Dean. They replaced Dean Dr Marjorie Jones and Assistant Dean David Cox.

Twenty-two students enrolled for the Diploma in Education programme. Fifty-six students enrolled for the Bachelor of Education programme.

The Faculty of Education had thirteen full-time lecturers which did not augur well for the university. Three of the Departments had part-time staff. Some of the staff members were on sabbatical leave. Two staff members successfully completed programmes at the University while one completed a course at the Government Technical Institute.

The annual teaching clinic was held for all Diploma in Education students. It lasted for one week. The focus of the Teaching Clinic was Questioning Techniques. Two Cambridge Educational Con-sultants, David Bridges and Dave Ebbut visited the University of Guyana. The consultants contributed by assisting the Faculty of Education to review its work, to consider seriously other ways and approaches through which it might be effective and to improve the range and quality of the programmes it offered.

Work was temporarily disrupted at the University early in the year when strike action was taken. In the Education Faculty classes continued, however, the education students found that the courses which they were taking in other faculties were not being taught due to the strike. Consequently, final year students' curriculum studies and research reports could not be submitted at the customary deadline. Extension of time was granted.

The lack of financial resources affected the Faculty of Education. Staff members were unable to attend Conferences overseas due to the lack of foreign currency. The Faculty received books and other materials on education from Dr Harry Pullen, a former faculty member who lived in Canada.

In the Faculty of Agriculture cross-faculty teaching continued. The students in the Faculty of Agriculture attended classes in other faculties. These classes were Mathematics, Scientific and Technical Writing and the Use of English, and Contemporary Issues in the Caribbean. Also lecturers from the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Natural Sciences taught in the Agriculture Faculty courses such as Crop Botany, Agricultural Zoology, Cytogenetics and Plant and Crop Physiology.

Seven staff of the Faculty did research in Guyana and in other countries during the year. Dr F.H.K. Asiedu and W. Weever of the Faculty of Education turned in their final report on their joint research project: "Growth Rate and Egg Production of Creole, Graded Creole and Rhode Island Red Fowls."

Members of the Faculty of Agriculture served on Boards of the National Agricultural Research Institute, Boards of the Guyana School of Agriculture Corporation, committees of the Ministry of Agriculture, Board of Director of Hope Coconut Industries Ltd., Guyana National Bureau of Standards, Advisory committees of CARDI/IDRC Milk Production Systems Research Project and the Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority.

There were new developments in the Faculty of Agriculture. The regulations of the Faculty were revised. The alterations were made to suit the current B.Sc. Agriculture Programme. The proposals were submitted to the Academic Board on July 12, 1988. The part-time evening programme in the Faculty of Agriculture continued. A total of twenty-two students participated in this programme.

A shield was donated by Professor Nazeer Ahmad, Head of the Department of Soil Science, University of the West Indies for the best graduating student in Soil Science in the Faculty of Agriculture. Student Theodosius Velloza won this shield.

For the second year the Faculty of Agriculture taught students in the Diploma in Forestry Programme. They studied Crop Botany, Elements of Chemistry and Physics and Agricultural Zoology.

Two lecturers, W.R Panaram and T.M. Velloza left in September 1988 and August 1989 respectively. They were recipients of Fellowships which were made available to the Faculty under the UNIGUY/IDB Sub-programme. A Panaram went to the North Dakota State University to pursue a Ph.D degree in Weed Science. Velloza travelled to Mississippi State University to pursue studies in Agronomy at Master's level. O.P Homenauth and W.R. Panaram returned from study leave in August/September 1985. They had gained Master's Degrees. M.S. Sadik proceeded on study leave.

In the Faculty of Health Sciences there were changes in staffing. D. Small returned from the USA where she had completed a Master's Degree in Public Health at the John Hopkins University.

She resigned from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the end of the year. E. Widmer also resigned. Dr C. Charles and Dr F. Denbow were recruited as full-time members of staff for the Clinical training of Medical students. Academic staff were also recruited for other courses in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Construction work started on the Faculty of Health Sciences building. Then the contractors were recalled to Venezuela due to the changes in the economic situation in that country. Subsequently, the Venezuelan government reviewed the project and the Venezuelan Minister of Urban Development visited Guyana to have a look at the Health Sciences building.

The Teaching Unit was established by the Faculty of Health Sciences in two wards in the Georgetown Hospitals. These wards were used for the training of Medical students. An anatomy-teaching laboratory was set up on the premises of the Guyana Agency for Health Sciences Education, Environment and Food Policy. It received gifts from the Federal Republic of Germany and specimens obtained from the Georgetown Hospital and preserved by Dr Severo Santos.

Few students applied to study Radiography. However, Environmental Health, Pharmacy and Medicine received large numbers of applicants.

The performance of the students of the Faculty of Health Sciences was very good especially that of the fourth year Medical students in the Pharmacotherapeutics final Examination. In this examination eighteen out of twenty-one students passed and the majority scored grade C and above (60% of the total marks). This was the first in a series of the final examinations for the award of the MBBS degree in Medicine and Surgery.

The lack of research facilities in the faculty prevented staff career development. Therefore, V. Caleb left to pursue a Master's Degree in Health Management and Brian Hoppie left to pursue doctoral studies in Pharmacy. Duane Small returned from Fellowship.

Students attended a lecture on 'Substance Abuse' on April 10, 1989. They also attended a Seminar/Workshop conducted by personnel from TOKTEN at the Woodbine Hotel during the period April 17-21,1989. Students involved in the Community Health Nursing conducted a seminar on May 16.

A one-week consultancy with PAHO was conducted by the Medical Director in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana during the last week in August to evaluate the progress in the implementation of Primary Health Care. The Medical Director attended several Conferences during the year in the Caribbean and in South America. Dr Severo Santos conducted a course in the Methodology for teaching Medical Sciences and published a booklet on the same subject as resource material for the course.

The lecturers attended several conferences and seminars. E. Hall attended a seminar conducted by the Institute for Adult and Continuing Education, another seminar sponsored by the Guyana Resource Corporation, a workshop on Disaster Preparedness and Management. E. Widmer attended a meeting of the Caribbean Association of Environmental Health Officers as well as a meeting of the Guyana Physiotherapy Assistants Training Programme, Ministry of Health. W. Jeffrey attended the Commonwealth Science Council Workshop on Plants as sources of new drugs at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, June 1988.

He attended the Joint Conference of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists and the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association, August 1988.

B. Hoppie attended Commonwealth Science Council Workshop on Plants as Sources of New Drugs. D.Hoppie attended the Conference of the Caribbean Association of Environmental Health Officers and a Workshop on Disaster Preparedness.

V. Caleb attended a PAHO/WHO Seminar/ Workshop on Health Manpower problems in the Eastern Caribbean, Antigua, September-October 1987. She attended the Caribbean Association of Medical Technologists, Educators' Congress and General Meeting, Barbados, Novem-ber 1987.

She also attended the PAHO/WHO Health Service Management Seminar in Barbados, July 27-29 1988. S. Farnum attended the Nutrition/Diabetic Discipline Workshop at the College of Arts, Science and Technology in Kingston, Jamaica, June 2-3, 1988.

The academic year 1988-1989 was very productive in spite of the strike action. A History Gazette was published by the History Society for the first time.

Academic staff continued to provide professional services at national and international levels. Some took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad while others represented the University of Guyana at regional seminars and conferences. It was certainly an interesting and unusual year.