President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali, on Friday evening, reiterated his government’s commitment to refashioning the University of Guyana (UG) to better respond to the needs of a modern society.
The Head-of-State made the pronouncement, while virtually addressing the 2020 graduating class of the premier tertiary educational institution.
“My Government has made some commitments to boosting tertiary education. My Government has pledged to refashion the University of Guyana to better respond to the needs of a modern Guyana…. We will honour those obligations.”
He pointed to the importance of education in a developing country, calling it a “vital life force” of national development, while he also underscored the need for highly skilled individuals in the ‘new economy’.
TERTIARY EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT
The President said that the government has committed to improving the technological advancement of the university, and in doing so, will ensure that there is greater access to higher education by making more courses and programmes available online.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to guaranteeing free university education before the end of its term, along with the provision of 20,000 scholarships to improve the educational capacity of Guyanese. This, he said, will be supported by the creation of a Guyana Online Academy of Learning which will fall in line with the government’s intention of expanding tertiary education access.
“…We have already established partnerships with various universities and applied sciences institutions, some of these include: the Indira Gandhi Open University, the University of Applied Science in Germany, the Open University in the UK and the University of the West Indies Open Campus, to provide over 4,500 scholarships to Guyanese students commencing in July, this year.”
Guyanese have already started to transition to online learning, according to President Ali, since September last year, over 53,000 Guyanese have registered with the Commonwealth of Learning and Coursera, with almost 36,000 taking courses to upgrade or re-skill themselves in various fields.
“The transition of the Cyril Potter College of Education and the University of Guyana to online learning is taking place, and we are committed to working with these institutions in attaining their key strategic objectives as they continue to serve our populace.”
GUYANA NEEDS YOU
President Ali charged the graduates to position themselves to take full advantage of the unprecedented growth that will be realised across the sectors.
“Guyana needs you, all of you. You will be expected to become key players in our efforts to advance our national development. Education has long been universally acknowledged as a cornerstone of development. The quality of human capital has a strong association with higher national output and increased efficiency.”
The Head-of-State said that the country will look to them to be at the forefront of promoting innovation and propelling our economy to higher levels of output and attainment.
“It is vital that we utilise our collective skills and knowledge to improve our quality of life. Guyana is embarking not only on a process which will yield higher levels of growth and human development, but which will also require higher levels of education and learning.”
He stressed that a key element of the national development agenda is the growth of a knowledge-based economy, which depends on highly skilled human capital that prioritise life-long learning.
“Today’s graduation is therefore, just the end of one leg of your journey of continuous learning, for if you do not continuously upgrade and acquire fresh and relevant skills and knowledge, you will be left behind in the new economy. The new economy involves a paradigm shift in the way things are done.
“Knowledge is combined with capital and entrepreneurship in ways which are different from in the past. The new economy will be geared not simply at producing raw materials, but by applying technology to transform commodities into wealth. To compete in the modern world will not be about constraining labour costs but about catalysing innovation.”
The President said that although the convocation ceremony was celebrated virtually this year, due to the pandemic, it does not diminish the significance of the event.
“Today’s convocation is a testament to our people’s perseverance in the face of challenges. Throughout our history, our people have demonstrated the tenacity and desire to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” President Ali said, while noting that this courage and determination is exemplified by one of the graduates – Rajni Persaud, a physically-challenged student, who graduated with a Diploma in Accountancy.
“I ask you today to believe in your abilities, to be seized by that conviction that no matter what life throws at you henceforth that you will prevail.
“It has been a most challenging year for our country, and you students have faced a great deal of setbacks. But you have made it to the finish line. To the University of Guyana’s class of 2020, I applaud you and extend my heartfelt congratulations on your long-awaited and well-deserved graduation.”
The Head-of-State also presented the President’s Medal to the two valedictorians; 24-year-old Deepa Odit from the Turkeyen Campus, who completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy and attained a 3.9 GPA and 36-year-old Savitree Budram from the Tain Campus, who completed a Bachelor of Education – Administration and attained a GPA of 4.0. (Office of the President press release)