Over the next five years, some 20,000 Guyanese are expected to benefit from the tertiary level education offerings provided by The UWI Open Campus, as Guyana focusses on developing its human capital.
According to a release issued by the University of the West Indies (The UWI), negotiations currently are ongoing between The UWI and the Guyana Government, to finalise an agreement that would make this a reality.
Representatives from The UWI and relevant ministers of the Government of Guyana are expected to meet soon, to discuss further details of the education project.
The regional university has been invited by the recently elected President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, to help drive forward Guyana’s human resource development strategy. The UWI will be using its Open Campus to facilitate the request from the Guyana Government.
The agreement is the result of a virtual meeting on Thursday 5 November 2020, which took place between President Ali and Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, during which they discussed a strategy for the country’s future, described as “exciting, sustainable, and on the cutting edge of Caribbean governance.”
“This represents an opportunity not only to help build a fellow CARICOM nation’s capital infrastructure for economic, social and cultural development, but also to bring the University’s internationally recognised brand of excellence into the country,” Professor Sir Hilary Beckles observed.
The UWI Vice-Chancellor reported: “Dr. Ali has called upon The UWI to be ‘very aggressive’ in producing the business plan that will allow it to deliver. He has identified all areas of human resource development that Guyana is urgently in need of.”
“We believe the diversity and richness of The UWI’s academic programmes, which have been carefully curated over decades, is well suited to help support the people of Guyana during this phase of their development,” he added.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles admitted to being excited by this “grand invitation” to enter Guyana to assist with its rebuilding process, thus helping the people of Guyana to meet their full potential as members of one of the most dynamic states in the region.
“The collaboration between The UWI and Guyana is particularly exciting in the context of The UWI’s Triple A Strategy, which focuses on revitalising Caribbean development through the application of three areas of focus: Access, Alignment and Agility,” he said.
In his discussion with President Ali, The UWI Vice-Chancellor reportedly assured the Guyanese leader that The UWI sees Guyana as part of its environment, and noted that several decades ago, Guyana was once a contributing member of The UWI, but opted to take a different path for philosophical and ideological reasons.
“This is as exciting as anything we have done in any region in the world, because we are on the margin of one of the largest societies, one of the biggest economies and, arguably, one of the most dynamic going forward,” Vice-Chancellor Beckles said.
The UWI’s Chancellor, Robert Bermudez, reportedly also is gung-ho about the possibilities for the project, and like Professor Beckles, expects it be fully endorsed by the Council of The UWI and should be undertaken.
“The Caribbean is at a moment of convergence, a point in its collective history in which intra-regional collaboration and mutual support will be the key to successful nation-building,” Vice-Chancellor stated. “The UWI’s role in propelling the people of the region along a progressive path to prosperity has never been more important.”
He added: “At a point in Caribbean history when the region is facing significant challenges due to the global economic downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and political upheaval in countries that are major trade partners, such as the United States, the relevance of The UWI’s input and influence is even greater.”