Over 2200 Guyanese benefited from UWI programmes under GOAL – Pres Ali

…urges more to be done to make regional institution attractive

President Dr Irfaan Ali has lauded the current partnership between the Guyana Government and the University of the West Indies, disclosing that over 2000 Guyanese students have graduated from UWI programmes under the GOAL Scholarship initiative and another 650-plus students are currently enrolled.
The Head of State made these remarks while speaking at the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) 27th Annual Gala, where he was presented with the Legacy Award Class of 2024 on Thursday evening in New York City for his “leadership and vision”.
President Ali said UWI plays a major role in Guyana’s drive to provide access to tertiary educational opportunities to its citizens.
Under the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) – a free scholarship initiative introduced by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government in 2021, over 30,000 Guyanese students, 75 per cent of whom are females, have benefited from some 345 programmes being offered by 19 universities across the world, including UWI.

President Dr Irfaan Ali addressing the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies’ 27th Annual Gala in New York

“In the last three years, 2229 [GOAL] graduates came for the University of West Indies programmes, including 119 postgraduate programmes and now currently, we have 659 students enrolled for University of West Indies programmes. This is testimony to the partnership [between Guyana and UWI],” the President noted.
According to the Guyanese Leader, this collaboration is further evident in upcoming plans to establish a UWI School of Medicine at the state-of-the-art teaching hospital being constructed in New Amsterdam, Berbice.
“As Guyana tries to build a world-class education healthcare system, we have decided to incorporate a medical school with the first Level-Five hospital that we will build and that medical school will be the University of West Indies Medical School,” Ali told the gathering at the event.
Back in February, President Ali had disclosed that the UWI School of Medicine had approached the Guyana Government to be an education partner at the teaching hospital. One week later, he announced that those talks had wrapped up.
In January, the sod was turned for the new US$161 million hospital at New Amsterdam.
The Guyanese leader had noted that the presence of a UWI-recognised School of Medicine in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) opens up the possibility of attracting students from neighbouring Suriname and other Caribbean nations.
In addition to the UWI School of Medicine, the Guyana Government is also working on securing degree accreditation from the regional institute for its new nursing school that is also being constructed in Region Six.
The Guyanese Leader noted that UWI has been doing tremendous work and sufficient recognition was not given to the institution. He also lobbied for efforts to be undertaken to make the regional university more attractive to students across the Caribbean.
“Too often we find ourselves quoting reports that are extra-regional when those very studies and reports are available in the University of West Indies and in the work that they do. I believe that we must value more who we are. We must value more what we produce. We must value more and utilise more what we own and we own University of the West Indies.
“And I believe that we in the Region need to find more innovative ways in which we can help the University of West Indies by incentivising studying there through the taxation system, through support to the corporate sector, write-offs, bringing in more of the Education Fund as deductibles. These are things that I think would help to stimulate more entry into University of West Indies and more support for West Indian students,” President Ali stated.
Meanwhile, during Thursday night’s award ceremony, the Guyanese Head of State was lauded for his “commitment to nation building” and as a “champion” for regional cooperation by Guyana-born American actress CCH Pounder.
President Ali received his Legacy Award from UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, AFUWI’s Board Director Dr Ron Chase, and CCH Pounder.
In his acceptance speech, the Guyanese Head of State spoke of the strong Caribbean identity and assured that the “prosperity of Guyana must and will lead to the prosperity of the Region”. (G8)