Georgetown, Guyana (October 29, 2019) – President David Granger, this morning, presented a cheque valued $2.5M to the Principal of Queen’s College (QC), Mrs. Jackie Ralph to assist in the enhancement of the school’s Science and Technology programmes, at the school’s 175th General Assembly.
The President handed over the cheque as part of the National Endowment for Science and Technology’s (NEST) contribution to boost the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
In his address to the past and present students of the school, President Granger said the College has been a leader in all forms of education, particularly in Science and Technology education.
“The nation looks to the College to continue to generate the skills necessary for economic transformation. The College can be the Caribbean’s foremost college of Science and Technology. The College’s 175th anniversary is an occasion to recall not only its glorious past, but also to envisage a much brighter future. The College must be forward-looking,” the President said.
President Granger said the College, in the next 25 years, can reach the apex of academic accomplishment. “It can set the standard for other schools, particularly in the field of Science and Technology education. This will not happen by accident,” he said.
“The College’s future plans should be carefully crafted and conscientiously executed. Provision should be made, now, for introducing incentives for students who wish to pursue Science education; attracting and retaining Science teachers; continuously upgrading of its laboratories; ensuring financial security and developing competencies in the field of Science and Technology education,” the Head of State said.
The President, who is a former student of the school has demonstrated its capability to lead, noting that it has earned recognition and respect and it deserves the resources to continue to be an exemplar of educational excellence.
“The College provided a platform for its students to pursue higher scientific education. It benefitted from qualified teachers and principals who guided it to the summit of scholastic supremacy. The College pioneered the promotion of Science education from the turn of the 20th century. It is suited to do the same during and beyond the Decade of Development: 2020-2029. The nation reposes its confidence in QC to generate, once again, the scientific élite to drive Guyana’s future growth,” President Granger said.
The President reminded that Guyana is on the threshold of a transformational stage of development. He told the students that Guyana will be different from its current state when they leave school in five or six years.
“Guyana plans to become a gentler, a more ‘genial’ state in which everyone would enjoy a good quality of life. It will expend the expected revenue from petroleum production to eliminate extreme poverty and inequality, enhance economic growth, extend public infrastructure and deliver better public services, especially public education, to the population,” the President said.
President Granger said that in addition to becoming a ‘green’ state, which will see emphasis being placed on the protection of the environment, the preservation of biodiversity and the promotion of the generation of energy from renewable sources, Guyana will also become a ‘digital state’ placing increased emphasis on information communications technology.
The President emphasised that education is at the heart of the Government’s plan to prepare succeeding generations for the transformational changes, to ensure that College graduates enjoy the best opportunities available and to develop an internationally competitive economy.
“Guyana is not an island unto itself. It must compete with other countries in a constantly changing and rapidly developing world if it is to sell its products and to seek investments. Science and technology are at the centre of those changes,” Head of State said noting that studies suggest that the rate of automation will continue to increase by 2030.
President Granger said studies have indicated that there will be an increasing need for engineers, information technology specialists and other scientists to drive economic growth.
“The world is experiencing its fourth industrial revolution. The first witnessed the use of water and steam energy to mechanize production; the second involved the acceleration of production through the use of electricity; the third witnessed the widespread diffusion of digital and electronic technology; and the fourth is witnessing the wider, deeper and speedier integration of technologies – physical, biological and informational. Many small states, including Guyana, are faced, still, with the challenge of the third industrial revolution of reducing the digital divide and of advancing into the fourth industrial age. Guyana must not allow itself to be handicapped. We must move ahead or we’ll be left behind,” the Head of State said while emphasising the importance of Science and Technology education in mastering the skills needed to establish knowledge-based industries and for modernisation.
The Head of State said too that Science and Technology education is essential to acquiring the skills necessary for social, economic and industrial transformation and which will play a more transformative role in making Guyana internationally competitive; fundamental to scientific innovation and will allow for the development of a more technologically competent workforce which is needed for making Guyana internationally competitive.
President Granger said Science education played a historically functional role, rather than transformational role in Guyana’s economy. It did produce doctors, engineers and other scientists, many of whom went off to work in society. Many worked in the bauxite, the timber and sugar industries.
“Guyana still needs and will continue to need new skills to populate occupations in the ‘green’ environment, in the petroleum sector and in digital economic sectors in the evolving state. Guyana will need an ‘A-to-Z’ corps of scientists – from agronomists, architects, biologists, botanists, chemists, doctors, engineers, environmentalists, geneticists, geologists, hydrologists, information systems specialists, and physicists to zoologists – for transformational national development,” President Granger said.
The President has announced that a ‘Decade of Development’ will be launched next year and as part of that decade education will be accorded the highest priority.
“The national University will be developed into a world-class, tertiary educational institution, offering the finest science and technology education. I have announced that free university education, in accordance with the Constitution, will be restored. No qualified Guyanese student will be required to pay for education at our public university,” he said.
The ‘Decade’ will emphasize Science and Technology education in every secondary school. The President said this emphasis, however, will not diminish attention in the humanities and social sciences as the country will continue to need accountants, attorneys, bankers, economists, linguists and managers.
“The ‘Decade’ will place higher priority on creating a corps of science scholars who will become the future captains of the country’s industries,” the President said noting that focus will be on the four ‘Is’ – of science and technology education: Infrastructure, Investment, Institutions, Information Communications Technology.
Meanwhile, QC’s Principal said the school is ready to rise to the challenges and make the best of opportunities available to it.
“We will remain aware of challenges of our time and capitalise on our strengths to set a fine example in teaching, learning and research thereby scaling new heights in nurturing talents, transferring knowledge and the advancement of new innovations,” Mrs. Ralph said.
Former Prime Minister, Mr. Hamilton Green and Col. (Ret’d) Desmond Roberts, officials of the Ministry of Education, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr. Alfred Granger and President of Queen’s College Old Students Association, Dr. Arron Fraser were among those at the anniversary celebration.