UG producing ‘far better graduates’ in ICT, Brain Street boss says

Just weeks after a local professional body utilised a high-profile forum to criticise the quality of graduates in a key discipline being produced by the University of Guyana (UG), one of the country’s leading business support organisations (BSOs) has praised the university for producing high-quality graduates in another discipline.

Senior Vice President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Lance Hinds, at an information and communication technology forum held at the Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday, June 12, lauded the work being done by the university’s Computer Science Department

Hinds’s commendation of the university for producing computer science graduates who are being sought after by local enterprises comes just weeks after last month’s blunt declaration by the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) that it was unhappy with the quality of engineering graduates from  UG. At the same time GAPE had called on the Government of Guyana to enhance the university’s capacity to produce graduates with the necessary skills to meet the needs of the local engineering industry.

By contrast, Hinds told the ICT forum that the university’s Computer Studies Department was producing “far better graduates” now. Noting that the country’s skills sets in ICT were improving, Hinds declared that it was “exciting” to watch the progress being made by both the department and the students.

And in contrast to the comments made by GAPE regarding the suitability of UG engineering graduates to serve the local sector, Hinds, who is also Chief Executive Officer of the ICT Company BrainStreet Group, told the forum that his company was among local entities “working in partnership with the Department of Computer Science with internships and scholarships as a contribution to the enabling environment that is required.” Hinds lauded the work of the lecturers in the Computer Science Department whom he said had remained at the university, “greener pastures” notwithstanding. “The fact that they are still here doing what they need to do to develop future information technology professionals is testimony to a level of dedication and commitment,” Hinds added.

He noted that earlier this year UG’s Computer Science Department had hosted the country’s first CodeSprint, a short intensive programming contest designed to foster competitiveness and innovation and aimed at securing an overview of the programming talent available locally. He announced that BrainStreet Group will host the second CodeSprint for 2013 in August.

Meanwhile, Hinds told the forum he believed the government’s one laptop per family programme can be a game changer, insofar as it “has the potential to provide a significant jump in ICT penetration, especially in the rural and disadvantaged communities.” However, he pointed out that if the project was to succeed it was necessary to bring on stream “the policy and related initiatives [pertaining] to low-cost connectivity, ICT education and literacy.”

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