A conference of local and diaspora stakeholders of the University of Guyana (UG) has called on the government to provide emergency funding to the institution to reverse its “imminent collapse”.
Held over three days, the conference, the initiative of new UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith, produced a resolution signed by 70 stakeholders based here and overseas calling for the urgent financing. The call will likely test the Granger administration’s declaration of intent to aid the university particularly since its two budgets thus far have not provided larger than normal subventions.
Contending that the university had been woefully underfunded in the part, the recital to the resolution said that the Education Resource Ambassadors visited the Turkeyen and Tain Campuses and were “dismayed and deeply troubled at the degradation and neglect of the institution”.
For years there have been complaints about the state of the campuses and demands by students and lecturers for major changes. There were several strikes and other protests over this.
The resolution in calling for the emergency funding said that the landscape and physical infrastructure of the Turkeyen Campus had critically deteriorated.
It added that the “health and safety of students, faculty and staff are threatened by mold and unsafe buildings … and staff are woefully underpaid, demotivated and constrained to work in poor conditions”
It further stated that the University is seriously underprovided with materials, equipment and technologies required for its effective functioning.
Contending that students are being made to attend a substandard institution, the resolution noted that the President and the Education Minister have publicly pledged adequate and sustained funding for the restoration of the university. It therefore called on the “Government of Guyana to provide emergency funding to arrest the further deterioration of the University without further delay”.
Among the 70 signatories are Dr Ronald Aaron of UG, Vincent Alexander of the Ministry of Education, Calvin Bernard of UG, Rear Admiral Gary Best of the Ministry of the Presidency, Dr Suresh Narine of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Major General Joseph Singh of the Ministry of the Presidency, Dr Grantley Walrond of Reunion Gold Corporation, Komal Singh of Gaico Construction Inc, Dr Vincent Adams of the United States Department of Energy, Professor Percy Hintzen of the University of Califormia, Dr Mark Kirton of the University of the West Indies, Dr Dhanpaul Narine of NYC Department of Education, Godfrey Statia CPA, Paul Nehru Tennassee of the University of the District of Columbia and Professor Ewart Thomas of Stanford University.
This initiative, a release from the conference said, was aimed at offering some key local and Diaspora stakeholders a first-hand view of some of the challenges facing UG.
The programme included visits to the Tain and Turkeyen Campuses, as well as plenary and breakout sessions at the Marriott Hotel. The Conference helped stakeholders to identify immediate, short- and long-term contributions and the realities facing the institution.
Contributions of cash, scholarships and pledges totalling over US$70,000 dollars or $14.5 million were among the major outcomes of the conference, the release said.
The three-day conference which concluded on June 25th was held under the theme “Dreaming Resources, Doing Resources”.
In response to the invitation by the Vice-Chancellor, 45 Guyanese in education, medicine, media, and industry from across the Diaspora paid their own way to join around 60 local participants in the ground-breaking event.
The release said that the conference also highlighted the importance of identifying ways for various parties to resource the university, such as providing technical support by way of policy, programme and protocol development.
Griffith, in lauding the initiative said, “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 rebirth, the release said that the Vice Chancellor envisages reviving dormant partnerships and pursuing new ones. In this respect two agreements were signed with the Institute of Applied Science and Technology: one renewing an existing partnership and another that establishes a new partnership in housing for foreign visiting lecturers and scholars.
Griffith announced that a follow-up conference will be held in about a year’s time.