President promises to rectify UG’s grim state

President David Granger has committed his Administration’s support to the University of Guyana’s Student Society (UGSS), after the student body picketed the Ministry of the Presidency last week, demanded an audience with the Head of State.
After more than a week of waiting, President Granger finally met with representatives of the student body, where he pledged to continue to address ongoing concerns.

President David Granger with some of the UGSS members on Thursday
President David Granger with some of the UGSS members on Thursday

“By the time the next academic year starts, most of these problems will be dealt with. Of course, not completely, but we would like to have some of these problems rectified. So we will try to rectify these before next semester and when the Minister of Finance is back in the country, I would like to engage him and it will be in the presence of the Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor, if he is still here, and the Minister of Education. This is a grave situation and I would never try to sweep this under the carpet,” President Granger told the students.
Among the issues raised were the lack of lecturers, lack of furniture in the classrooms, the presence of animals on campus, lack of recreational facilities, absence of practical assessments, functioning and equipped laboratories for first and second-year students, what are considered unhelpful policies of the University and the perception of lack of respect and regard for the welfare of students by the University’s administration.
President Granger said the meeting was “sobering”, adding that while he was aware and had been disturbed about the diminishing conditions at the University for several years, he had never expected that it would reach to such low levels. “What you have described here, which I do not doubt… is very grim. The standards of sanitation and even the infrastructure are unacceptably low,” he told the students.
The President noted that he envisions graduates from the University of Guyana participating in every sphere of the country’s development and as such, the challenges there must be remedied as its current described state is hardly conducive to a tertiary learning institution.
“I have emphasised the importance of science and I would certainly like to see more scientists coming out of the University, more engineers to build our highways and bridges and roads in the hinterland, more biologists, more chemists and more botanists. This country cannot develop without an efficient University of Guyana so that is my vision. My vision for the University is inseparable from my vision of the country… I will certainly work on this. I have already engaged the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor. I will work with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education to bring relief,” he said.
Meanwhile, UGSS President Joshua Griffith, in an invited comment, said the discussion with the Head of State was frank and open and focused mainly on the issues that have been affecting students at the campus. He noted that the commitment given by the President was heartening.
“We got the general sense that the President was surprised at the realities on the ground and he did commit to ensure resolutions in the near future for almost everything we brought to the fore. So there is some sense that things will be different very soon,” Griffith said.
He noted that the UGSS was appreciative of the engagement with the President even while he acknowledged that there is work to be done by the students themselves.
Earlier this month, students began what they said would have been a series of protest actions if ear was not given to their plea. They stood in front of the University’s Administrative Building clamouring for better quality service, among other things.