The issue is the state of science at UG and IAST

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr A. Persaud’s letter captioned “To Messrs Beharry and Daljeet: Concentrate your efforts elsewhere” (KN 07.10.28).

I took umbrage to the fact that Mr. A. Persaud delved into the personal lives of Drs Beharry and Daljeet. Whatever they are doing now for a living in Canada does not devalue or remove any credibility of their messages on the state of science at the University of Guyana and IAST. It is abhorrent to try to “blow the trumpet” of Dr Narine by discrediting these two gentlemen.

Their basic message is that UG does not have the resources to promote research and learning. Imagine after 40 years there is a no functional Physics department, poor library facilities, inadequate labs, unqualified staff, and so on.

From your letter, I discern that Dr Narine prefers to bring about changes in science and technology through discussions and diplomatic methods with the government. From what I have been hearing from former science students, both Beharry and Daljeet tried Narine’s approach, but they became frustrated as no substantive improvements occurred at UG and IAST. What else could they have done than use the media?

Dr Narine is a learned Guyanese who should be considered blessed to hold an academic position in Canada. But, on no account should his achievements be used to marginalize the achievements of others like Drs Beharry and Daljeet, similarly talented. There are several Guyanese PhDs, many like Narine from leading Canadian schools in science who are only high school teachers in Canada. If you extrapolate that to other nationalities you will find thousands of qualified persons in similar or lesser positions. Mr. Persaud should ask a taxi driver in Toronto or a security guard at Pearson International of their academic achievements. He will find out that several of them are foreign trained engineers, medical doctors and scientists, far more qualified than most of the lecturers at UG and staff at IAST. A PhD is not a marketable degree in Canada. I have seen resumes that hide/omit a PhD qualification. Finding faculty positions in Canadian universities comes with luck, being at the right place at the right time and a long list of extraneous factors. The fact that Drs Beharry and Daljeet do not have faculty positions to match Dr Narine does not remove their academic abilities in science. Mr Persaud, they are not laying “claims to be academic”, Canadian universities have deemed them as academic by awarding them PhDs.

It is common knowledge that bio-diesel development and production do not require a PhD in Food Physics. Bio-diesel is not new technology, nor rocket science. It’s just new to Guyana to make a few vehicles run with bio-diesel. But has anyone looked at the economics of bio-diesel production, knowing that the PNC/Guysuco palm oil industry in Mabaruma failed? Is the cost of production so advantageous to spend the energy, and agricultural resources to produce bio-diesel? Or, should the resources, capital and human be used to address other demanding needs of the country. Is the emphasis on bio-diesel at IAST aimed at facilitating a foreign bio-diesel investment?

Mr. Persaud, please let me remind you of some of those needs, basic to human existence but lacking in Guyana that need a food scientist. Guyana is one of the few countries that you cannot buy fresh milk in the stores. Common fruits like mangoes are too expensive (cheaper in Toronto) and scarce except for some brief periods in the year. Most of the children do not eat a single fruit in a day. Children are taught that an orange a day keeps the doctor away but there are no oranges in the markets most of the time. I can go on, but it becomes embarrassing to say these things of Guyana.

Lets look at one fruit

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