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GUYANA | UWI to train 20,000 Guyanese over four years, opposition quizzical

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov. 20, 2020 - The Government of Guyana is in discussions with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to train some 20,000 Guyanese over the next five years as part of efforts to support Guyana’s human resource development strategy.

A media release from the UWI said President Dr. Irfaan Ali, a graduate of the UWI, held a video conference with UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles  on November 5 to discuss a strategy for the country’s future.

The Guyanese will be trained through the UWI’s Open campus, which is one of the five campuses of the UWI, providing distance-learning services to non-campus territories.

Ali says he wants the UWI to be “very aggressive” in producing the business plan that will allow it to deliver, having already identified all areas of human resource development that Guyana is urgently in need of.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles assured the President that the UWI sees Guyana as part of its environment, recognising that Guyana was once a contributing member to the regional university some decades ago.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles was reportedly “excited” by this “grand invitation” to enter Guyana to assist with the country’s rebuilding process, thus helping the people of Guyana to meet their full potential as members of one of the most dynamic states in the region.

He said, “This is as exciting as anything we have done in any region in the world, because we are on the margin of one of the largest societies, one of the biggest economies and, arguably, one of the most dynamic going forward.”

The release noted, “This represents an opportunity not only to help build a fellow CARICOM nation’s capital infrastructure for economic, social and cultural development, but also to bring the University’s internationally recognised brand of excellence into the country.

The diversity and richness of the UWI’s academic programmes, which has been carefully curated over decades, is well suited to help support the people of Guyana during this phase of their development.”

The release noted that Vice-Chancellor Beckles was “confident” that the Council of the UWI will endorse this worthwhile and much-needed project. He has already spoken with the UWI’s Chancellor, Mr. Robert Bermudez, who agrees that it must and should be undertaken.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport.

As the region’s premier research academy, the UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked the UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, then top 20 in 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.

Tabitha Sarbo Halley 460Opposition Shadow Public Service Minister, Tabita Sarabo-Halley is questioning the reasoning behind the Guyana government’s plan to award scholarships for Guyanese to study at the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus. Opposition Shadow Public Service Minister, Tabita Sarabo-Halley is questioning the reasoning behind the Guyana government’s plan to award scholarships for Guyanese to study at the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus. Mrs. Sarabo-Halley says the Open Campus website shows that the programmes of study being offered are significantly limited to the skill sets that Guyana needs.

Based on available information, she believes that Guyana will have to pay UWI to set up the systems to train Guyanese through the scholarship programme. “I have no personal problem with the University of the West Indies but one glance at the Open Campus website shows that the programmes offered are significantly limited compared to the skillsets, already established to be required. Thus, since it would cost UWI to create an array of new programmes and find new lecturers to meet our needs, we can be sure that our tax dollars would ultimately be paying for that,” she said in a statement.

The former Coalition government Public Service Minister suggests that it will be smarter for Guyana to spend its tax dollars on the University of Guyana and  vocational institutions. She says the planned deal between the Guyana government and UWI raises more questions than answers.

The opposition APNU+AFC lawmaker is calling on Guyanese who are interested in the development of UG and vocational institutions to pay attention to what she calls “this strange new deal.”

  • Countries: Guyana
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