PRESIDENT David Granger has issued a call for the reformation of the Education system in the Caribbean to ensure that regional graduates are equipped to advance the region’s industries and businesses in the globally competitive market.Speaking at the ceremonial topping-off and deed handover ceremony of the new state-of-the-art Debe-Penal campus in southern Trinidad of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, the Guyanese Head of State urged Regional leaders and senior tertiary education officials to recognise that the Region “must be innovative and focus on long-term value creation, not short-term profit-making.”
“Higher education in the Caribbean must be reconfigured to support greater innovativeness in architecture, agriculture, culture, manufacturing, medicine, engineering, the sciences and business,” President Granger told the gathering.
President Granger, an alumnus of the UWI campus in St Augustine, Trinidad, said, “Higher education should contribute to the competitiveness of our enterprises and make the Caribbean a zone of prosperity.”
As a former student exposed to the multiculturalism of the Caribbean, the President acknowledged his Caribbean roots while urging the Region’s people to look beyond what divides them and “develop the capacity to conceptualise a collective future made possible by a transformative education system.”
The President said education stands at the center of regional integration, and in this regard, he said, “Caribbean states and peoples must cooperate with each other, not compete with each other, in order to achieve our common goals.”
Mr Granger, exercising his vast knowledge of history, explained that education was previously used to preserve the elite class, but in contemporary Caribbean, “education is the vehicle to achieve the good life.”
“Higher education in the Caribbean,” the Guyanese Head of State continued, “functions best when inequality is removed, when access is improved, and when an increasing number of persons can be better prepared to be citizens of the 21st century society.”
The President noted the goals of UWI and higher education in building an economy greater than the one inherited from former colonial masters, building cohesive societies, and establishing more inclusive political systems with citizen empowerment at the local and national levels.
Speaking to circumstances at home in Guyana, the President outlined what he called the “four horsemen of the Guyana apocalypse.” Those horsemen, according to Mr Granger, are crime, disease, ignorance, and poverty, which could all be tamed and eradicated by encouraging higher education.
“Higher education has a pivotal role in unshackling us from these four horsemen and in opening opportunities to access the good life. Investments in education therefore are investments in the good life,” Mr Granger continued.
Outside of the opening of the south Trinidad campus, President Granger also met with Trinidadian officials including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine, and Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie. (Derwayne Wills)