More than G$14.5m raised during Education Resource Ambassadors Conference; academics call for govt to provide emergency funding

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2016, 14:55 by Denis Chabrol

Contributions of cash, scholarships and pledges totaling over US$70,000 dollars or 14.5 million Guyana dollars were among the major outcomes of the first University of Guyana (UG) Education Resource Ambassadors Conference, and participants say it is now time for government to provide emergency funding.

“Be it resolved that the University of Guyana Educational Resource Ambassadors hereby call on the Government of Guyana to provide emergency funding to arrest the further deterioration of the University without further delay,” 70 local and overseas-based Guyanese academics said in a resolution.

The conference ended at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on Saturday, June 25, the tertiary institution.

The three-day conference was held under the theme “Dreaming Resources, Doing Resources”.  Participants made a considerable tangible display of passion and concern with their support. This level of fund-raising is expected to continue with several local and international initiatives as part of the strategic resourcing for the University.

This  initiative of Professor Ivelaw Lloyd  Griffith, the 10th Vice Chancellor of The University of Guyana, was aimed at offering some key domestic and Diaspora stakeholders a first-hand view of some of the challenges facing The University of Guyana, including but not limited to, institutional, infrastructural, and technology systems, finance and human resources.

In their resolution, they noted that successive Governments and Presidents have defined the University of Guyana as a strategic national treasure.

Aiming for UG to become a source of national pride, the academics said it was time that the woefully underfunded institution receive emergency funds to improve the Tain and Turkeyen campuses.

They noted that the landscape and physical infrastructure have deteriorated so badly to the point where “the health and safety of students, faculty and staff are threatened by mold and unsafe buildings.”

In light of poor wages and salaries, severe shortage of materials, equipment, they hope that President David Granger and Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine would stick to their promises. “…publicly pledged adequate and sustained funding for the restoration of the national University.”

The programme included visits to the Tain and Turkeyen Campuses, as well as plenary and breakout sessions at the Marriott Hotel, where presentations were made by a mix of overseas- and locally-based Guyanese alumni and friends of the University. The Conference helped stakeholders to identify immediate, short-, and long-term contributions and the realities facing the institution.

In response to the invitation by the Vice-Chancellor, 45 high-level Guyanese in education, medicine, media, and industry from across the Diaspora (Barbados, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America), paid their own way to join around 60 local participants in the ground-breaking event, which saw a groundswell of appreciation for the challenges that the national university faces in the production of quality graduates to support the nation’s development.

Apart from the money raised, several important initiatives emerged from the two-day exercise including the adoption of a resolution which called upon the government to provide emergency funding to arrest any further deterioration of the University. The conference also highlighted the importance of identifying tangible ways for various parties to resource the university, such as providing technical support by way of policy, programme and protocol development to strengthen the governance and accountability systems in the University. Moreover, it addressed matters of plant, equipment and faculties development, academic and administrative staff development, student support and development and institutional partnerships.

Professor Ivelaw Griffith, in acknowledging the resounding success of the initiative intoned, “The renaissance of the nation’s University has begun. We are happy that this was achieved through embracing both the challenges and the various strengths we have in Guyana and at the university”. From here moving forward it must be ‘I for UG, U for UG, We all for UG!’

As part of the renaissance the Vice Chancellor envisages re-kindling dormant partnerships and pursuing new ones. In this respect two agreements were signed with the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST); one renewing an existing partnership and another that establishes a new partnership in housing for foreign visiting lecturers and scholars. As well, the title of Education Resource Ambassador was conferred on each conference delegatge, with an instrument of appointment signed by the Vice-Chancellor and bearing the university seal.

The first conference of Education Resource Ambassadors facilitated the cultivation of a sense of collective ownership in the welfare of The University of Guyana by those stakeholders and it demonstrated the willingness of persons to contribute to the restoration of the institution’s academic credibility and financial stability. During the concluding session of the conference, Professor Griffith announced that a follow-up conference will be held in about a year’s time, to conincide with his installation as Vice-Chancellor and Principal.