I have had an abiding interest in the University of Guyana and in spite of many negative things said about the university, I have always believed and continue to believe that UG has played a tremendous role in providing essential human resources for the development of Guyana.
I was shocked to see a report in the Kaieteur News that the University of Guyana is considering an increase in fees of about 35% over three years. As a citizen of Guyana, I can say unequivocally that the Vice-Chancellor of UG and the Council cannot count on me for support of any increase in fees for students at UG. I am certain that many people in Guyana feel the same way. I am certain that students and their families also reject such a proposal.
I do not doubt that the UG can benefit from an input of more resources. I believe considering the waste we have in government today that the Government of Guyana can fully provide an increase in financial support to UG. The waiver of $5B of taxes from DDL could have supported an increase of $1B annually to UG for five years. This is just one example of how APNU+AFC can support UG with additional resources without the university burdening the students and their families further. Families are over-burdened with increases in more than 200 different taxes, including VAT on private education, water and electricity. Increasing student fees at UG will be another assault on the education sector.
At a time when the economy is clearly on a downward trajectory and at a time when families have been forced to cut down on expenditures because their buying power has been under assault by a government that is looking for every way to increase the tax burden on people, it is unconscionable for either the UG management or APNU+AFC to consider any increase in student fees.
Education is a public good and a necessary part of developing the human capital that is necessary for development. The recent introduction of VAT on educational services and commodities is a counter-productive and a retrogressive step by APNU+AFC. I would encourage the VC and Council to not pursue any increases of student fees at UG. This will add to the retrogressive policy on education by the APNU+AFC government.