September 21, 2022

UG leads the way

Dear Editor,

Despite funding issues, difficulties with in-person teaching attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the challenge of providing education to an ever-growing number of students, the University of Guyana has made significant progress over the years under the tenure of the current VC Dr. Paloma Mohamed. It may be fair to say that the University has not made the kind of rapid progress it has undergone in the past two years since its founding some 59 years ago. In the Diaspora and in Guyana, alumni as well as students of UG expressed that the foundation they received at UG put them in a good position to do extremely well.

Although there have been some shortcomings at UG from time to time, some of which have been reported in the press, the successes achieved have been many. All Guyanese should be proud of this noble institution and offer their support. UG is moving towards delivering education in a hybrid format – a combination of face-to-face and online. The university today reaches more students than ever before, especially through online instruction, increasing access for thousands of students. It should be noted that at the height of the pandemic, UG was one of the first educational institutions in the region to go online to ensure continuity of learning.

Many students who were in their second year and needed two more years to complete their studies would not have been able to graduate if the institution had not taken decisive and quick action to bring its programs online. The resume should be commended for leading the way in making sure all of this gets done. UG has designed and is currently fully implementing an inclusion policy. An inclusion unit now operates to ensure the policy is not just on paper but serves the purpose for which it is intended. This is unprecedented for UG and for any university in the region. Additionally, UG launched a university press and began publishing materials. Many experts and other scholars will have the opportunity to have their work published.

As a Guyanese who writes a lot on various subjects including the diaspora, I am also very interested in collaborating with the UG Press to publish some of my work there. Given my decades of experience as an editor, publisher and media columnist, I would like to contribute to this endeavor when possible. It is also important to note that based on available statistics, UG has a higher enrollment rate as well as graduates in various specialized courses. And over the past few months, UG has launched several new master’s and doctoral programs. These offers will continue to be expanded for the benefit of students from Guyana and the region.

Guyana is now an oil economy and UG has led the way by designing programs that will build the country’s human resource capacity. In a relatively short period of time, UG established the Energy Diplomacy Institute and several new programs are being rolled out to meet the needs of the sector. All of this will help realize President Ali’s vision of creating a highly skilled workforce to serve both traditional and emerging sectors. Most recently, the university launched the “International Center of Excellence in Educator Innovation, Learning and Development” to increase the number of teachers receiving specialized training across the country. This is a first for the university, allowing teachers to train without leaving their region or location since it is done entirely online.

It should also be noted that UG is expanding its reach in learning by offering distance education with the expansion of IDCE centers. University leadership has announced that the university is currently focused on achieving the goals set out in the 2040 Master Plan. I am particularly excited about the one that relates to achieving one graduate per household. Wouldn’t it be great for all of Guyana if this goal were achieved? UG is the only state-funded degree-granting institution in the country. It is forward-thinking and has produced graduates who have accomplished great things. Graduates are recognized worldwide. A recent example is Pfizer scientist Vidia Roopchand, who was involved in the discovery of the Covid vaccine. He put Guyana on the map.

Several others are also doing great things all bringing accolades to the university as well as the country as a whole. Again, I say that not everything is perfect at the University, but I am optimistic that based on what is happening at the moment, the institute is in good hands. The university has come a long way and is getting high marks and its image is gradually changing. The university must expand its branches and reach to educate everyone. Two decades ago, a group championed the need for a UG campus on the Corentyne to meet the needs of the marginalized in Berbice.

The government has agreed to open a campus in Tain, Port Mourant. We advocated for the creation of a similar campus on the Essequibo coast and in other areas to allow easier access to a university education for Essequibians and others. In addition, there should be awareness raising activities on adult education. The whole country and all Guyanese must rally around the institution to ensure that the flag of this noble institution flies high and that it expands.

Sincerely,

Dr Vishnu Bisram