Jan 31, 2015 News
“Ask not what the political parties can do for you but what you can do for yourselves,” was the assertion of A Partnership for National Unity Member of Parliament, Christopher Jones. At the time he was meeting with the University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS) at a rally on Thursday.
Although Jones was reluctant at first to address the rally, he said that the APNU is committed to fully supporting the University students. He said that APNU has been quietly following the recent developments at UG, but has been careful not to become directly involved.
He said that his party wanted to avoid having the issue become politicised in the media. He however, noted that the APNU is ready and willing to lend any and all support to the institution of higher learning. This is in light of the fact, he noted, that the APNU sees education as an important factor to any nation.
Although representatives from all of the major political parties were invited by the UGSS to hear the concerns of the students; there was no representations from the ruling People’s Progress Party or the Alliance for Change at the rally.
The rally convened in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) of the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen campus was one intended to solicit the support of students in order to bring about needful changes at the institution.
Students of the University were in protest mode over a number of issues ranging from the suitable facilities to the lack of classes since Monday. The reason was the commencement of industrial action by staffers because of fallout over negotiations for salaries and other benefits.
The industrial action had initially taken on the form of a sit-in but eventually morphed into a full-fledged picketing action at the Turkeyen campus.
Students continued their activities on Thursday with the rally and a candlelight vigil yesterday. Other activities are being proposed if a resolution is not realised.
At the rally UGSS President, Joshua Griffith, said that there are only a few things requested by staffers of the university in order for classes to resume as soon as possible. These include the withdrawal of a new work load policy being imposed by the University’s administration and a 60 per cent salary hike across the board.
In order to encourage the return to normalcy at the university, students, led by the UGSS executive, decided to ink a letter to the university council and the Vice Chancellor, asking for an extraordinary meeting to be held to resolve the “unfortunate situation” including the absence of classes and the general substandard conditions at the University.
That meeting was slated for yesterday and it is hoped that classes could commence on Monday as efforts will be made to improve the general conditions of the facility soon after.
And this is particularly imperative, Griffith noted since the existing concerns at the university currently are similar to what was obtained in the past.
“Deteriorating conditions, grades not on time…and the question we should ask ourselves ‘how long will we allow this to go on?’ and the other question we should ask ourselves is ‘are we ready to do what it takes to address this?’” said Griffith.
He added that a University that has evidently evolved over time in terms of its academic resources but “can’t keep its washroom clean, or cut the grass on time, or provide proper food services for the students, is really not a University at all.”
According to him, the situation at UG is dire. Even stray dogs feel comfortable enough to share the classroom spaces with students. “Nobody can address these issues but ourselves,” said Griffith.
He emphasised the need for more students to raise their voices in order to help effect change. “Unless we can motivate ourselves and each other to work towards addressing these (issues), things will remain the same and it is unfair to us; it is unjust,” added a very vocal Griffith who noted that students have the undeniable potential to do “big things.”
He urged the students to take note of what the staffers have done in order to realise their few demands.
“We as students who have a longer list of issues (often) find it difficult to come together to stand up for what we deserve. How long more? I think it’s time we bring an end to that…” asserted Griffith.
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