UG must play the lead role in UWI ‘partnership’

UG must play the lead role in UWI ‘partnership’

Dear Editor,

I wish to comment on the letter by Pro-fessor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of UWI and to also put a few questions to him about President Ali’s doctoral research. Professor Beckles’ letter was titled ‘Emerging relationship between UWI, Guyana can only positively affect inter-university partnership’. I would propose that in this partnership, that the University of Guyana (UG) must lead and the UWI play the supporting role.

Professor Beckles indicated that the project is a partnership with the Govern-ment of Guyana, this is really a partnership with the Government and people of Guyana. There is no way that we should  agree for our government to spend our taxpayers’ money to fund a project with UWI, and UG is not the lead institution, so that is one adjustment that ought to be made.

Chancellor Professor Eddie Greene and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin, and their team at UG, are quite capable of leading this effort. Professor Beckles also stated that ‘UWI is keen to participate in “rekindling Guyana’s economic and social development”’, I wish to state that it is the responsibility and duty of UG to position Guyana  for economic and social development, through research, education and training, so as to realize the country’s potential and UG must not abdicate this responsibility to UWI. Partnerships add value, I therefore see UWI as the added value, not the value and that must be clearly understood and determined.

Finally, I am not sure whether Professor Beckles has received this information. Dr. Vibert Cambridge in a letter that was published in the Stabroek News on November, 20, 2020, and titled ‘Ignoring of UG in UWI release seen as disrespectful’, stated that ‘Professor Opadeyi who is in some way associated with President Ali’s doctoral work at UWI, St Augustine, was recently appointed Special Projects Officer in Guyana’s Ministry of Education’.

Also, in a Stabroek News Editorial on November 22, titled ‘UWI training programme’ it stated ‘Dr Cambridge raised an issue of a different kind. Towards the end of his letter he asked whether the “engagement” with UWI was associated with Professor Jacob Opadeyi’.  Further, the editorial stated ‘The Professor is now a faculty member at UWI’s St Augustine campus, but from 2013-16 had been the Vice-Chancellor of UG’. Additionally, it was indicated “Dr Cambridge goes on to say that Professor Opadeyi had `in some way [been] associated with President Ali’s doctoral work at UWI, St Augustine’ and had recently been appointed as Special Projects Officer in our Ministry of Education”. The editorial continued “While he was Vice-Chancellor, the Professor `was awarded a US$193,000 contract for the digitization of immovable property records and the establishment of an electronic database with linkage to the sub-registries of the Deeds Registry.”’

These statements are of great interest, especially at a time when the Government of Guyana is working hard on rebuilding the integrity of the country – institutions and people. My questions to Professor Beckles are: To what extent was Professor Opadeyi associated with President Ali’s doctoral work? And is Professor Beckles aware of whether anyone or persons from UG was also associated with the President’s doctoral work?

Yours faithfully,

Audreyanna Thomas

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