The University of Guyana (UG) is set to achieve a greater level of resonance following the installation of its ninth Chancellor, renowned educator, Dr Eon Nigel Harris.The George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT), of the Turkeyen Campus, was home to pomp and ceremony Wednesday evening when President David Granger, Ministers of the Government, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of other local, regional and international institutions gathered to witness the inauguration of Professor Harris, who colleagues said has a remarkable record of service as a researcher, administrator and an accomplished university leader.Harris has occupied the seat of Chancellor, replacing Dr Compton Bourne, whose two-year term ended back in 2011. He recently demitted office as Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), after serving for some 11 years.Principal and Pro Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Professor Clement Sankat said UG has inherited a “remarkable human being”, who has been instrumental in transforming the status quo at UWI, expanding the scope of tertiary education throughout the Caribbean.“It is his leadership which saw an unprecedented enrolment in the University of the West Indies, from 29,000 students to 50,000 students; serving all 17 countries of the University…he was the Vice Chancellor who established the fourth campus and the newest campus, so that the University could better serve the needs of the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean and to also engage in online and distance education.”Professor Harris was very earnest in his plea for support from all stakeholders and interested partners to work together to raise the standard of Guyana’s premier tertiary institution.He said while UG has been able to prosper over the last 50 years, it is important that Guyanese reflect on the developments and advancements around the world.He spoke of the astounding global events that have transformed the world, noting that Guyana and its university need to come up to standardHe said that while Guyana should not shy away from celebrating its achievements, the most optimistic must see that progress has been insufficient and that considerable work needs to be done to change the prospects.According to Dr Harris, given the profound changes in the world, it is imperative that all understand the need to participate in the global revolution. And the University must be a critical participant in the change. And it must be done between two narratives of Guyana, one where the World Bank had recorded the country as having low income, low life expectancy, with poor schooling and the other, from an infomercial published by Forbes Magazine, which spoke of the country’s magnificent natural resources.“It is for us to decide which Guyana we want – one that is the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere with relatively low life expectancy and average income compared to our neighbours, or one that celebrates and sustainably capitalises on our vast forests and biodiversities.”He said the change can only occur if university academics and administrators, Private Sector representatives and leaders of Government create a vibrant alliance to transform the institution.Dr Harris, while as Vice Chancellor of the University of UWI, held many other leadership posts. He served as Chairman of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and was elected Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Dear Editor,The Guyana Peace Council (GPC) salutes United Nations ‘International Day of Democracy 2017.’This year’s observation is being held under the theme ‘Democracy and Conflict Prevention’.International Day of Democracy is being observed by fighters for democracy, peace and social progress all over the world.In 1997, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) adopted a Universal Declaration on Democracy.Subsequently, in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe September 15 as ‘International Day of Democracy’ – with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy.The preamble of the resolution affirmed that: “…while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy, and democracy does not belong to any country or region…”The resolution further states: “…democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life…”Under the leadership of former President Cheddi Jagan, founder of the GPC, the Council played a supportive role to the Guyanese people’s struggle for the restoration of democracy in 1992 through free and fair elections.Prior to the 1992 elections, the GPC organised several fora on a number of national and international issues, to raise the people’s awareness on the importance of democracy, what it involves, the challenges it faces, as well as the opportunities it offers.As President of the Guyana Peace Council and a member of the Presidium of the World Peace Council (WPC), Cheddi Jagan took the cries of the Guyanese people to the international arena, making leaders and the peoples of many countries aware of the struggle in his country for the restoration of democracy, racial and working class unity, peace and social progress.His tireless efforts in this endeavour won the admiration and support of many world leaders, including the leadership of the WPC, which endorsed his request that June 15 be declared International Day of Solidarity with the People of Guyana.As we in the GPC join in lending support to, and solidarity with, our fellow fighters for democracy and peace around the world, we are cognisant of our own struggles that lie ahead against a creeping dictatorship and authoritarian rule in Guyana with the return to government of a disguised and discredited People’s National Congress (PNC).As it has done in the past, and in keeping with this year’s theme, ‘Democracy and Conflict Prevention’, the GPC stands ready to work with all local stakeholders who have declared in favour of working hard to help strengthen our democratic institutions for peace and stability, for effective and inclusive democratic governance, for respect for human rights, and for the rule of law in Guyana.As we mark this significant occasion, we in the GPC call upon all Guyanese who stand in support of these noble ideals to join with the GPC to collectively and courageously struggle for the realisation of this worthy cause.Further, we appeal for the support of our brothers and sisters around the world with whom we are joined in a common struggle for democracy, peace and social progress.Long Live International Day of Democracy!Guyana Peace Council