In my last Sunday’s piece, I noted that “Voters have to be circumspect in this election season, lest they allow themselves to be swept away by the tsunami of hype, misconceptions, and myths. The two main contenders of this tsunami, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) seeking to oust the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) remain imprisoned by their mantra, that the PPP/C has failed Guyana; that nothing good has happened in this dear land under the PPP/C tutelage.
Indeed, there is another of the tsunami messengers David Hinds, who possibly wearies this nation and himself with the same old repetition of tall tales of marginalization of particular folks. Most recently, he admonishes the PPP/C for failing the University of Guyana (UG). He is wrong on both counts. I will address this UG misconception in another letter.” I want to start here by merely addressing only a few matters of development at UG.
Former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan single-handedly pioneered the development of UG, when his detractors constantly and arrogantly bewailed the institution as Jagan’s night school.
And the PNC/UF Government in 1964 showed considerable indifference to UG in their haste to absorb UG into UWI. In pursuing this path, the PNC Government established a committee to erase the image of UG as a Jagan-created institution vis-a-vis giving UG away to UWI. A former Vice Chancellor was able to convince the PNC regime to abandon this ignoble objective.
In 1992, the PPP/C Administration inherited an unsatisfactory industrial relations climate, pointedly described in Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the 1992 Vice Chancellor’s Report and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU). The 1992 Vice Chancellor’s Report indicated that several prolonged strikes and poor funding negatively impacted institutional practices, work attitudes, and the prevailing wages and salaries policy.
It was the PPP/C Government that transformed the unsatisfactory industrial relations climate at the University to a productive academic environment. The PPP/C Government authorized a 10 percent pay increase for all UG workers. In 1993, that same Government provided a 20 percent increase on the salaries budget of UG’s subvention. This increased PPP/C Government subvention enabled UG to pay its non-academic staff at 20 percent to 40 percent higher than workers with equivalent grades in the Government Public Service; the residual part of the of the subvention increased the salaries of academic staff by 31%, and non-academic by 10 percent.
The PPP/C Government in 1994/95 introduced a Cost Recovery Programme, mainly to enable the economically disadvantaged to gain access to tertiary level education; without the Cost Recovery Program, students from poor and vulnerable families would have been deprived of higher education.
There has been a 220 percent increase in the PPP/C’s government subvention to the University of Guyana since 1993 for the Turkeyen Campus, that is, G$186M in 1993 to G$594M in 2011. Overall, inclusive of the Berbice Tain Campus, which has now received G$136M, indicates a 290 percent increase in government subvention to the University.
The largest contributor to the University is the Government of Guyana which contributed $ 730 M in annual recurrent subvention and a capital contribution of $ 39.8 M, with $ 399.9 M in Student Loan Fees during the academic year 2010/2011.
In 2010-2011, pertaining to the capital contribution of $39.8M, $25.4M was in respect of the Turkeyen Campus for the rehabilitation of buildings and the procurement of furniture, computers and books. The amount of $14.4 M was expended at Berbice Campus for repairs to buildings, the procurement of computers and accessories, furniture and laboratory equipment. In addition, the Government of Guyana allocated $300 million for asbestos clean-up in 2008.
The following data provides a sense of UG’s academic staff compensation:
· Lecturer 1: G$18, 400 + allowances
· Lecturer 11: G$21,800 + allowances
And in 2011, the salary scale is as follows:
Assistant Lecturer: G$99, 017 – G$148, 518
Lecturer 1: G$112, 216 – G$ 165, 022
Lecturer 11: G$138, 622 – G$ 198, 029
Senior Lecturer: G$ 191, 426 – G$249, 185
Reader: G$ 244, 236 – G$ 297, 044
Professor: G$297, 044 – G$354, 800
And the Caribbean Development Bank agreed to make a grant available to UG to review its regulatory framework. This includes enhancing the personnel and human resource management system, and improving administration and management. This project is expected to commence shortly. Furthermore, World Bank funding is imminent for developmental works at UG.
Under the PPP/C’s watch in November 2000, the University’s second Campus, Tain, Berbice became a reality; and the Berbice Campus Library is already online, enabling students to have off-campus access to its catalogs; the Turkeyen Campus Library is partially online at this time. In 2011, 164 students graduated from the Berbice Campus.
The enrolment status is as follows:
· 1992/1993 – total student enrollment – 2,972
· Turkeyen Campus – 5950 students
· Tain Campus – 601 students
And in 1992, there were five (5) Faculties – Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Technology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Over the last few years two (2) Schools were established – the School of Education and Humanities, and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences; and the new Information Technology Centre arrived on the scene in January 2004.
Some of the new post-1992 programs are:
Faculty of Health Sciences
· Associate Degree and Degree in Optometry
· Associate Degree and Degree in Pharmacy
· Degree in Rehabilitation Sciences
Institute of Distance and Continuing Education
· Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
Master’ s programs:
· Post-graduate Diploma in Development Studies
· Post-graduate Diploma in International Studies
· Commonwealth Executive Master in Business Administration
· Commonwealth Executive Master in Public Administration
School of Education and Humanities
· Master of Education
· Graduate Diploma in Education
Faculty of Health Sciences
· Post-graduate Diploma in General Surgery
School of Earth Environmental Sciences
· M.A. in Forest Biology
These developments at UG under the PPP/C Administration are quite consistent with Dr. Jagan’s belief that university education should be within the reach of everyone, and the PPP/C government upholds this belief today. Furthermore, the new dynamics in higher education, and the need for universities to function within the national interest strongly correlate with reorganization; and on these matters, the PPP/C Government works in tandem with UG.
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