Dec 05, 2015 News
–Minister of Education
Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine believes that the Council of the University of Guyana (UG) should adhere to the Ombudsman’s report which says that the tertiary institution wrongfully terminated the contract
of lecturer Freddie Kissoon.
Roopnaraine said that if the findings continue to be handled in a “causal” manner, then the institution could be showing disregard for the importance of the Ombudsman’s office and its purpose as the protector of the citizens’ rights.
The Minister of Education also noted that he feels so passionately about dealing with the matter expeditiously that he will make a case for it through his representatives on the UG Council.
He recalled that Kissoon was on a contract with the University of Guyana, but the contract was abruptly terminated on January 18, 2012.
This was in spite of the fact that Kissoon’s contract had five months remaining, at the end of which, he would have reached the age of retirement.
The University said that it merely ended the contract earlier. The contract stipulated that it could be terminated and three months’ salary paid in lieu of notice.
Despite several efforts by Kissoon, University officials did not tell the lecturer why his contract was terminated prematurely.
Following a complaint lodged last year with the Office of the Ombudsman, UG was notified that the newspaper columnist’s contract termination breached UG’s regulations and that he should be compensated.
Ombudsman Winston Moore, in a letter dated December 22, last, to now retired Registrar, Vincent Alexander, stated, “This office has been advised that Mr. Kissoon was wrongfully dismissed, his dismissal being in breach
of Statute 25 of the University of Guyana Statutes which provides for notice and a hearing, as pre-conditions for dismissal. In the circumstances, Mr. Kissoon is entitled to compensation from the university.”
Since the Ombudsman made this pronouncement on January 6, last, no action has been taken by the institution to compensate Kissoon.
Taking this into consideration, Roopnaraine said, “This really is an unacceptable state of affairs and it should not be encouraged any longer. I don’t want to give the impression however, that UG is one of the schools that I can just exert my influence on and have my decisions or plans implemented. It does not work like that.
“The University of Guyana is an independent institution and everything for it is dealt with through the Council. I, of course, can exercise some influence, if I have a case to make on a matter, through my extremely competent and experienced representatives. Those two persons are my Technical Advisor on Tertiary Education, Mr. Vincent Alexander and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Miss Delma Nedd.”
Roopnaraine said he firmly believes that the UG Council needs to “adhere to the findings or recommendations of the Ombudsman’s report.”
“The Ombudsman’s findings should not be taken in a casual manner and I will be pushing for this. I do believe that it is important for the Freddie Kissoon matter to be dealt and through my representatives on the Council I will be making a strong case for it.”
The recent comments of Presidential Advisor on Sustainable Development, Dr. Clive Thomas, were also in sync with that of the Minister of Education.
Dr. Thomas said that action should not be delayed any longer with regard to the Ombudsman’s findings on the Kissoon case.
The economist had emphasized that any democratic government practicing good governance would take the reports as an indication of the type of action that needs to be undertaken.
“Look at what happened with Freddie and UG. The Institution should not have hesitated for one minute in ensuring justice is served. UG has a responsibility to ensure that action is taken on the Ombudsman’s report. And the Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine should use that influence to ensure that the ruling of the Ombudsman is upheld. Arjoon and others should also get justice.
“It is imperative that we pay attention and act expeditiously when the Ombudsman’s office highlights when injustices have occurred. The powerful principle upon which his office was established was to be the protector of the citizen’s rights.
“We have to ensure that his recommendations are enforced at all times and in whatever ways we can. We cannot appear to equivocate in the face of the rulings; otherwise, what is the real purpose of his office and having him there?”
Thomas emphasized that it is important for the findings and recommendations of Moore’s reports to be dealt with, as further procrastination would only serve to undermine efforts for good governance at various levels.
The Presidential Advisor said that the Ombudsman’s office is one that should be respected. Failure to act on his findings represents “total disregard for the people, for his office as well as the importance of ensuring justice is served.”
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