The University of Guyana (UG) continues to come under sustained criticism for reasons that have to do with deficiencies in the quality of service it provides. The criticisms have focused on the physical state of the institution and its various deficiencies like the lack of learning tools such as libraries and laboratories among other things.
The question has been raised as to whether the education that is being delivered at Turkeyen is adequate to meet local the skill needs. For example, at a time when major private sector entities continue to bemoan the dearth of skills in various crucial areas – a circumstance that has given rise to the mushrooming of courses offered locally by overseas-based universities – searching questions are being raised regarding whether the university is really serving the purpose for which it was established.
It is difficult to contemplate the decline that has occurred at Turkeyen without drawing attention to the unending politicisation of the university and the role which this has played in stunting its growth. Government has, over time, added insult to injury by simply failing
to invest sufficient resources in the development of UG or looking to the pattern of successes by universities both in the region and elsewhere to help develop some kind of template for its development. Indeed, there are those who argue that politics has become virtually all of what UG is about, which is pretty much the same as saying that it will remain in a condition of perpetual underdevelopment.
Over time, there have been limited efforts by the private sector to join forces with UG to fill the resource gap, which has been left by the failure of government in many instances to step up to the plate in terms of investing in UG. Some of those initiatives have worked. Some have not.
That having been said, it was more than a little heartening to hear, recently, the Chief Executive Officer of a private sector entity pay tribute to the work of the university – and particularly the lecturers – in one area of the institution’s curriculum, namely, computer science.
In a presentation a week ago at a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored ICT seminar during which he openly said that Guyana was in danger of being left behind as far as ICT development is concerned, Chief Executive Officer of the BrainStreet Group Lance Hinds lauded the contribution UG’s Computer Science Department continues to make to producing “better graduates”. Several things are significant about Hinds singling out the university’s Computer Science Department for praise. First, it comes at a time when much of what is said about the university is critical and frequently, justifiably so. Second, it comes from the private sector which, of late, has had very little that is praiseworthy to say about UG. Third, the comment has to do with Mr Hinds’ view that UG is offering an enhanced quality of teaching in an area that is unquestionably critical to Guyana’s development.
Equally interesting is the fact that Mr Hinds found time to pay tribute to the lecturers in the Computer Science Department and pointed out that some private sector entities, including his own company, are “working in partnership with the Department of Computer Science, with internships and scholarships as a contribution to the enabling environment that is required.”
This, at a time when the local engineering sector has only recently spoken critically about the quality of UG graduates in that discipline, ought to come as a morale booster to the university as a whole and the Department of Computer Studies in particular. Perhaps Mr Hinds’s comments may even create an enhanced impetus for UG/private sector cooperation, while, simultaneously, serving as a wake-up call to government to put the salvaging of the university on its front burner.