Our scientific institutions cannot develop without the proper equipment

Dear Editor,

I refer to Dr Suresh Narine’s letter (Virulent criticism in the media is not the way to go, Drs. Beharry and Daljeet can offer their services, SN 16/10/2006) which raises some troubling questions and unfortunately more doubts that only the author can answer.

The purpose and intent of our letters are to secure all the necessary scientific tools (at UG and IAST) for the next generation of Guyanese so that they can help develop and therefore contribute to the future of a ‘peaceful, progressive, and prosperous’ Guyana.

The two examples presented below are cited from Dr Suresh Narine’s letter which raises some issues that must be addressed.

(1) In the bio-diesel project, 20 barrels of coconut oil and soya bean oil (“Brazilian expert to look at Guyana’s bio-energy potential, (GINA), GC, September 8, 2005) were transported to the University of Alberta where it was processed into bio-diesel which was then tested in Guyana on a diesel truck to make headline news in all the newspapers in Guyana.

The Guyanese public should notice that the conversion was not done in Guyana, not at UG, and not at IAST. Why? There are no basic facilities at UG and IAST to do even this relatively simple industrial prototype processing.

The conclusion that Guyanese should take from this ongoing situation is that without the basic facilities and equipment, the bio-diesel research, development and full scale processing could not be done at the Faculty of Engineering/Technology and or Natural Sciences at UG, or at the IAST (where Dr Suresh is now Head). University of Alberta has the equipment and facilities to develop a project like this from start to finish.

Predictably, the headlines and government media accepted and spouted the government’s propaganda that implied that the research and the development of bio-diesel were done with the current facilities at IAST in Guyana.

The question that must be asked is: Where does this leave UG, IAST, and the younger Guyanese who are hoping that the PPP government provides them with the basic necessities and facilities to develop Guyana? The obvious answer is absolutely nowhere. By doing the conversion at the University of Alberta, the PPP and Dr Suresh Narine have clearly demonstrated that all the much advertised deficiencies at UG and IAST are true.

Let us examine the situation a step further and see beyond the hype and public pronouncements.

There is now a need to do small scale batch processing and then to progress to pilot and then full scale bio-diesel processing. The purpose is to monitor all the parameters of the reactions, firstly to make the whole process feasible and secondly to maintain quality control to meet at least international standards.

Unless Dr Suresh Narine and the company are entertaining the idea of making soap which is the main by-product of this process, then all the necessary analytical, monitoring equipment, and trained personnel absolutely need to be nearby – let’s say at the company in Guyana, maybe at IAST, maybe at UG. All these requirements cannot be from the distant University of Alberta.

At present, Dr Suresh Narine is caught in the propaganda that he helped foster because none of the above facilities and qualified personnel is easily or readily available in Guyana. The question that must be asked is: is Dr. Narine seeking outside technical help or is he laying the framework for a scapegoat to take the fall for any failure?

(2) Since Dr. Narine has been afforded a fully-equipped lab at the University of Alberta it was expected that he would advise or ask President Jagdeo’s PPP to do the same for IAST and UG in Guyana.

Dr Narine knows that fully equipped science and technology facilities have afforded him and others the opportunity to make developmental progress in the province of Alberta. Had Dr S. Narine been a UG lecturer and researcher— would he have achieved as much? The opportunities were given to him by others in another country (Canada); logically one would expect him to strongly advocate for the same facilities and opportunities for the younger generation of Guyana – so that this nation can develop and prosper.

We had all hoped that Dr S. Narine would have asked that as a requirement for his involvement as top science advisor the facilities (UG, IAST, NARI) for the training of personnel be given the highest priority since these projects need qualified personnel. Instead of Dr. S. Narine advocating that UG and IAST must be equipped, he joined the process of evading or not advocating improvement of scientific facilities for the next generation of Guyanese at UG.

Knowing what I do– as mentioned above, I certainly would have rejected any offer to work on the bio-diesel project under Dr S. Narine.

In addition, to accept under the current circumstances will be to continue or join the under-development process and further embed the reality that UG and IAST must be bare and therefore dysfunctional. As a result this is a stance against the gross neglect of science and technology by President Jagdeo and the PPP. I took a stand for change and spoke out, since despite exhaustive efforts the other channels for making progress were closed.

I did give my services to the University of Guyana but quickly realized that I did not want to sacrifice any of my academic or educational principles by being an ally of the destructive educational policies which are being imposed by President Jagdeo and the PPP on the next generation of Guyanese. I will not be part of this. I was subjected to this type of educational policy as a youth under the PNC government and I know the implications for the future. Yes, they are under-developmental. Yes, these current impositions are also ‘Burnhamite’ to the core.

These are the essential issues that must be addressed.

Yours faithfully,

Anand Daljeet

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