Tuesday marks the beginning of weeks of planned activities to commemorate the Turkeyen Campus’s Golden Jubilee even as it continues to face resource inadequacies, demands by the UG Senior Staff Association for payment of overdue salaries and calls for the new Nigerian Vice-Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi to take swift action.
Joining a group of panelists attached to the University from either its inception or over a significant number of years, President Ramotar spoke about the politics at the national level that is being reflected at UG and the numerous shortfalls the institution has been encountering over the years.
“Certain customs and habits must change. University professors must give their marks to students much earlier, we must have… more discipline in the system, more emphasis on developing the academic work,” President Ramotar said.
Founded three years before Guyana gained independence from the British, the University of Guyana, as Dr. Jagan had envisioned, was intended to be an “epicenter” for developing and disseminating values and goals in an emerging society.
The entire speech made by the late President in his famous 1963 speech at the institution’s inauguration was read by Minister of Education Priya Manickchand while President Ramotar gave the interpretations.
“(Dr Jagan) wanted to build institutions that will not only produce… narrow specialists but he wanted to create professional and technical persons with a wider appreciation for society with a social conscience,” President Ramotar said.
Additionally with the need for serious analysis of the available resources in Guyana that are there to promote national development, President Ramtoar believes the University of Guyana should have been catering to those requirements.
“We have shortages of some technical skills. We know we should have more emphasis on science and technology but also there are some areas that we are badly short (like) good managers in our society… and this institution should give us this,” President Ramotar said.
As he addressed the gathering in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) that was rearranged to suit a panel discussion, President Ramotar was stern about the University being caught up in the political tit- for-tat.
UG has often been one of several named when Opposition politicians and their allies accuse the Government of deliberately trying to stifle certain key institutions.
However, President Ramotar, while acknowledging that differences are an inevitable fact of life in every mature democratic society, urged that the interest of the nations not be jeopardized in the process.
“Don’t let the different ideas paralyze us. Let’s try them one at a time. Life will tell us who is right and who is wrong and we must be bold enough to make changes when we have made mistakes,” President Ramotar said.
The caucus commenced with high commendations to the University over the 50 years, especially the number of distinguished Guyanese and Caribbean statesmen who were trained there. Among them is the country’s President who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
Professor Opadeyi suggested that the 50th Anniversary Committee make a special effort to record and exhibit the names of persons who graduated from the institution and have today made great accomplishments.
Phillip Allsopp, Joseph Holder, Sr. Noel Menez, Navin Chanderpal and Yvonne Stephenson engaged in a panel discussion entitled Genesis One which focused on the first decade of the University of Guyana. Questions from the audience were subsequently invited.