– Dr Ramsammy
– says UG not living up to its mandate
The Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has lashed out at the University of Guyana for not offering several medical programmes including a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy this academic year. He made the remarks to a gathering at the launch of the Neal & Massy’s Techno- Expo on Thursday evening at the Berbice Campus.
Minister Ramsammy criticized the decision by UG’s administration not to offer medical programmes, even though such programmes can benefit the general population. He stated that the government should at least have a say as to what programmes are offered, since millions of dollars are pumped into the university each year.
“As a government, we should take a strong position, because we do support and subsidize the university in a massive way. This year, we would be supporting the university with a subvention of over $1B”, he noted. He also said that most of the students attend UG through government loans, provided with no interest.
The University of Guyana has reverted to the Diploma in Pharmacy for this new academic year. Ramsammy did note how important the Diploma in Pharmacy is, since enough pharmacists could be provided to work in the hospitals. But he added that there is a need for a higher level of pharmacists, “that could provide greater leadership that could work with the junior pharmacists.”
“Guyana has always had the Diploma programme but we wanted to expand into the Degree programme so that we could have a higher level of service, so that we were moving beyond the Caribbean standard to the North American standard”, Ramsammy said.
He said that the university needs to change the level of service. “That’s why we can’t stick to the standards we had before; we have to lift the standards”, he noted.
The Minister said that the university was established as a result of a dream by a ‘visionary’, Dr Jagan and ”the ‘Jagan Night School’ as they called it then is now producing our doctors, lawyers, accountants…etc”. He said that this resulted in the university fulfilling its national development mandate. “And so, this university has a responsibility to engage its community and everyone and every entity, that would contribute to the betterment of our community and nation”, he noted. He praised Professor Samad of UGBC, who he said, “has helped the university get closer to meeting its mandate”.
“We must be a university that each of us may be proud of, not a university that is stagnant”, he posited.
Ramsammy said that he is quite puzzled as to why the university “thinks it is good to run some of the courses they do now”. “The University of Guyana is saying to this country, ‘That what the Minister is promising Guyana will not come through’, because I am promising you, that in your home, as you get older, and you may need a Physiotherapist, that you will get that Physiotherapist The University of Guyana says, ‘We can’t run the course because it is too costly.’” The UG administration stated that running a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy would be too costly to the already cash- strapped institution.
“But running the course will cost them nothing, other than the salary of the tutors and children’s fees will pay for it; because the practical experience that the students need are provided for free by the Ministry of Health in our hospitals”, he noted.
“So when they fool you that it is too costly…this is dishonesty and if I were not with the cameras in front of me (at the Techno- Expo), I would describe it as exactly what it is in language that we use so well when we are imbibing in other places.”
Minister Ramsammy noted other courses that UG has dropped this year, including Rehabilitation Medicine, Pharmacy and Optometry.
“This government has made a commitment that people will get correction of their eyesight when it happens, anywhere in this country. They don’t have to go to a private, expensive optometrist, that every health centre and hospital will have an optometrist”, he said.
He chided the University for not living up to its mandate in this regard. “That was the mandate of the university. That was the dream that was born here…in the vision of Cheddi Jagan—that was the dream that I grew up with as a child; and that is the dream that people in this university are stomping their feet on, as a people of this country, we must let our voices be heard!”
He urged the private sector of the country to let the University of Guyana know that “they are letting the people down and they are not meeting the mandate that they were provided with”.
Ramsammy added that more medical technologists, doctors, pharmacists, nurses have graduated recently than ever before in Guyana’s history. He noted that Guyana has twice as many nurses than Guyana has ever “had in any time in our history”.
Ramsammy complimented the Berbice campus “for meeting part of its mandate” but extended the request for the larger campus to meet its own mandate, so that “the dreams of our country can come true”.
Meanwhile, Director of the Campus, Dr Daizal Samad also criticized the manner in which the university is being managed and said, that no person in the senior administration of the university “seems to realize what much of the world already knows: that a university is a business…unlike any other business, but a business nonetheless”.
He urged the higher ranks at the Turkeyen Campus “to obey the tenets of business: efficiency, flexibility and immediacy”. “Part of those must be immediate systems of penalties and rewards”, he noted. He inferred that the university has no proper regulation as it relates to sanctioning and rewarding members of staff and lecturers. “Those that perform over and above in measurable terms will be rewarded appropriate and immediately. Those that are recalcitrant opposed to progress and those found underperforming should be subject to quick disciplinary measures”, he stressed.
He stated that the university should be more “service- oriented”, for “we are here at the pleasure of the taxpayer and must be accountable to the tax- payers”.
Sources have revealed to Kaieteur News that some “very big” changes are soon to shake up the UG administration.
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