University of the West Indies Going to Guyana

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has been invited by the recently elected President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, to help drive forward Guyana’s human resource development strategy.

Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, held a virtual meeting with Dr. Ali on Thursday, November 5, 2020 in which they discussed a strategy for the country’s future described as “exciting, sustainable, and on the cutting edge of Caribbean governance.”

The UWI is currently negotiating an agreement with the government of Guyana to help to train up to 20,000 nationals over the next five years, through The UWI Open Campus. 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.

The diversity and richness of The UWI’s academic programmes, which has been carefully curated over decades, is well suited to help support the people of Guyana during this phase of their development.

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. In response, Vice-Chancellor Beckles has assured the President that The UWI sees Guyana as part of its environment. In fact, some decades ago, Guyana was once a contributing member of The UWI, but opted to take a different path for philosophical and ideological reasons.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles is 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. He says, “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.”

The UWI is greatly honoured to be part of Guyana’s roadmap to development. A meeting is being planned between The UWI and relevant ministers of the Government of Guyana shortly. Vice-Chancellor Beckles is confident that the Council of The UWI will endorse this worthwhile and much-needed project. He has already spoken with The UWI’s Chancellor, Mr. Robert Bermudez, who agrees that it must and should be undertaken.
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.

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.

In the words of Vice-Chancellor Beckles, 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. The UWI’s role in propelling the people of the region along a progressive path to prosperity has never been more important.