At this time, there are some concerns about the University of Guyana finding expression in protests. And it is the job of the stakeholders to ensure a timely resolution to the issues that would be mutually beneficial. At the same time, there are two imminent significant developments aimed at comprehensively transforming the University.
Let me start with the Government of Guyana-initiated World Bank Loan of US$10 million for the University of Guyana Science and Technology Support Project.
There appears to be a misguided perception that the Government of Guyana refuses to sign the World Bank negotiated loan, and that this ‘refusal to sign’ the loan is an indication of prevarication on the part of the Government. This is not the case.
The first disbursement of this loan is conditional to the University of Guyana and the Ministry of Education establishing a Steering Committee to oversee the project as well as the University of Guyana’s preparation of the terms of reference for the project execution unit, among other conditions.
Once these conditions precedent to the first disbursement are satisfied, the Government of Guyana will sign the loan agreement to trigger the disbursement.
The World Bank loan has three components as follows:
· to produce a renaissance in the science curriculum, oriented toward the significant needs of the LCDS;
· to support basic research, in order to advance knowledge on environmental conservation and biodiversity preservation.
· to enhance existing laboratory facilities and infrastructure of four faculties using 14 buildings and enhancing campus-wide drainage;
· to provide the existing laboratories with essential scientific and multimedia equipment to advance science education and research;
· to install campus-wide internet network.
· to enhance facilities management;
· to craft strategic institutional decisions and assist with financial support.
Let me say something now about the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Grant to highlight another development at the University. With respect to the current institutional structure of the university, efforts are underway to transform the archaic institutional mechanisms of the university, in order to promote efficient administration analogous to that of contemporary universities. In this regard, the CDB approved a grant of US$250,000 (83%) with UG matching this funding with US$50,000 (17%), to guide the rehabilitation of the regulatory and operational framework of the institution.
The expected outputs from this project include presenting recommendations on a relevant regulatory framework, a resource mobilization plan, a change management program, and corporate systems and operational procedures. Through the public tendering process, a consultant was selected, and the project will commence imminently.
As this CDB project is now in the offing, it is important keep in mind the vast number of reports on the workings of the University of Guyana over the years. Here are some of them:
· 5-year Development Plan (1986);
· Human Resource Training and Development (IDB program, 1991);
· UG Academic Plan 1990 – 1995 (1991);
· The Distance Education Department of the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education’s 5-year Development Plan (1995);
· Former President of Guyana Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the University of Guyana with 40 recommendations (1996);
· Trevor Hamilton and Associates Ltd. – the Conceptual Programme for Improving the University of Guyana’s (UG’s) Cost-effectiveness and Enhancement of its Relevance (1996);
· National Report on Higher Education (UNAMAZ/UNESCO, 2002).
The many recommendations emanating from these reports indicate that there is no dearth on ideas for transforming the University of Guyana. And there is need to leverage this existing knowledge; and not throw out the baby with the bath water in light of the CDB ‘s project. Nonetheless, receptivity to change is necessary and wholesome whenever that change is in the national interest.
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