By Sharmain Cornette
In order for Guyana to utilise its natural resources in a more effective and beneficial manner, the use of science, technology and engineering must be applied. This notion was emphasised yesterday by Jamaican Scientist, Dr Arnoldo Ventura.
The scientist pointed to the fact that Guyana requires a science policy that speaks to the issue of development of natural resources, a move he anticipates could add to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s Low Carbon Initiative and be useful to the future of the world.
Operating out of the Education Ministry, Dr Ventura is here in Guyana offering his services to policy makers at the request of UNESCO to help Guyana re-ignite its Science and Technology policy process.
And according to the scientist he has rendered similar assistance to several African and Asian countries.
He related that he started in the scientific field as a basic scientist looking at things such as viruses that create problems in human beings. Most of his investigations were done at universities in the United States. He, however, started his undergraduate work at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.
But though he started off as a basic scientist looking at things from a knowledge point of view, Dr Ventura said that he eventually had the opportunity to visit many communities and was instinctively struck by the poverty/science scenario.
And as if by divine alertness he became extremely conscious of the fact that there were many poor people even as there existed a great knowledge generating system. He mused at the fact that for some reason the two seemed unable to come together.
Haunted by the phenomenon, Dr Ventura said that he tried in earnest to find a way to make a link between generating knowledge and reducing poverty. He engaged a plan to try to get science and technology to apply to the poverty problem.
“Of course at that time some people thought that I was somewhat deranged because the two never seemed to be aligned. I would hear ‘Why are you doing this? Science has nothing to do with poverty.’”
However, the scientist asserted that he has been able to establish that science has a lot to do with poverty as it both causes, and can alleviated poverty.
And so with his new level of understanding, Dr Ventura moved from being a basic scientist to one that deals with the application of science to development issues.
He, as a result, became one of the most high-profile scientists working out of the office of the Jamaican Prime Minister. In fact, he was the Prime Minister’s Science Adviser and has worked with five different Prime Ministers over a period of 20 years.
Since his arrival here last Sunday, Dr Ventura has been examining a draft Science and Technology document Guyana has had for many years, to see how it can be upgraded, modified and be made more relevant to today’s world.
His task will also see him helping to draft an action plan that will give effect to the Science and Technology policies.
The doctor is expected to depart Guyana tomorrow. But according to him this may not be his last trip here in this regard. He noted that as the process evolves he anticipates that he would make about two more trips here to see how the process of modification is going and at the end to have a document that can be put to the public for their consideration in November. He, however, asserted that an outsider couldn’t actually create policies for a government or its people since that should be that country or people’s sole prerogative. “I can give some guidance, I can give some suggestions but that is as far as I can go.
I cannot go any further because although I might sit here and theoretically write a nice document about Guyana, in truth and in fact, that would not fit with the aims and objectives of all the people.”
He explained that his job is simply to re-ignite and reenergise the process by bringing all of the relevant people together to reconvene the various coordinating groups that drafted the first policy to engage renewed discussions.
This, he said, will result in the creation of a policy that the government can find acceptable and at the same time be relevant to the needs of the people and be implemented without delay and in a logical fashion.
He said, though, that without top political support no science policy could achieve its purpose, as it must have firm support, which will require some level of budgetary allocation.
And according to him it is crucial that persons participating in the scientific exercise come from the Educational system and be sensitised to the scientific concerns of the policy.
Additionally, he noted, that in order to implement any science policy that has worth, it must have the blessings of those who it will serve, thus people at the grass-root level, must buy into it before it could be a true success.
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