Sir Hi­lary should not have apol­o­gised – UWI lec­turer

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Adrian Frater News Ed­i­tor

DR CHRISTO­PHER Ogun­salu, the out­spo­ken Montego Bay­based Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies (UWI) lec­turer, says Sir Hi­lary Beck­les, the uni­ver­sity’s vice-chan­cel­lor, made a big mis­take last week when he apol­o­gised for an ear­lier dec­la­ra­tion by Wil­liam Iton, the uni­ver­sity’s regis­trar, that the uni­ver­sity is not answerable to the Ja­maican Par­lia­ment.

“Mr Iton, as the over-all ad­min­is­tra­tor, must pro­tect the in­ter­est of the Mona cam­pus and pre­vent po­lit­i­cal in­fil­tra­tion ... . If this (po­lit­i­cal in­fil­tra­tion) is to hap­pen, it will spread like wild­fire,” said Ogun­salu, a Nige­ri­aborn nat­u­ralised Ja­maican.

“As a uni­ver­sity that was set up by the Royal Char­ter in 1962, the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies, a public au­ton­o­mous uni­ver­sity, which is serv­ing 17 coun­tries in the English-speak­ing Caribbean, is not to be con­trolled by the Par­lia­ment of each of these in­di­vid­ual coun­tries, de­spite the fact that they con­trib­ute money for the ed­u­ca­tion of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity,” con­tin­ues Ogun­salu. “If this were to hap­pen, the UWI will be speak­ing 17 ed­u­ca­tional lan­guages.”

In a let­ter signed by Iton last week, the UWI re­jected a re­quest to ap­pear be­fore Par­lia­ment’s Public Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee (PAAC), telling the PAAC to get what­ever in­for­ma­tion it was seek­ing about how the uni­ver­sity uses gov­ern­ment funds from rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the uni­ver­sity’s fi­nance com­mit­tee.

How­ever, a day later, Beck­les apol­o­gised on be­half of the uni­ver­sity, say­ing the let­ter was “mis­un­der­stood” and that the uni­ver­sity “is keen and will­ing to ap­pear be­fore the PAAC”.

COME TO GRAD­U­A­TION

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ogun­salu, “If the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Par­lia­ment that sits on the fi­nan­cial com­mit­tee of the uni­ver­sity can­not in­form the Par­lia­ment as to what the uni­ver­sity does with the lit­tle fund­ing it is get­ting from the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­maica, then Mr Iton should be bold enough to tell the en­tire Par­lia­ment to come to the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies this Oc­to­ber and see the thou­sands of grad­u­ates that we are push­ing into a com­mu­nity that was ini­tially des­tined for a to­tal doom.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ogun­salu, Iton is a very care­ful and sea­soned uni­ver­sity ad­min­is­tra­tor with a good le­gal ed­u­ca­tional back­ground, which makes him uniquely qual­i­fied to make de­ci­sions that are in the best in­ter­est of the in­sti­tu­tion.

“He (Iton) was the cam­pus regis­trar at the UWI St Au­gus­tine cam­pus, where he wit­nessed how the Par­lia­ment of Trinidad and Tobago dug into the af­fairs of UWI at that cam­pus, to the detri­ment of and em­bar­rass­ment of that uni­ver­sity,” said Ogun­salu. “The fact that you give money to UWI does not mean that you can com­mand a set of aca­demics and in­tel­lec­tu­als to come and re­port to you. If they do this, it means that the ed­u­ca­tion that they have ac­quired and that they are giv­ing to oth­ers have no street value.”

Ogun­salu said that in­stead of seek­ing to con­trol the uni­ver­sity, the Gov­ern­ment should in­stead try to use the in­sti­tu­tion to train more Ja­maicans so that there will be less hands avail­able to do the bid­ding of crim­i­nals.

“I want to use this op­por­tu­nity to po­litely ask this same Par­lia­ment to pump much more money into the UWI Open Cam­pus and Montego Bay Cam­pus to al­low an ex­ten­sion of both into the free zone work­ing com­mu­nity of al­most 6,000 work­ing men and women who have for many years not utilised their five to six Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil (sub­jects) but have now gone into the busi­ness of feed­ing scam­mers (lot­tery) with in­for­ma­tion that al­lows the trade to prop­a­gate,” said Ogun­salu. “... only ed­u­ca­tion can stop this crime in Montego Bay, and be­cause UWI re­mains the citadel of aca­demic ex­cel­lence, only UWI can prop­erly utilise its aca­demic re­sources to stop this crime. Good ed­u­ca­tion at uni­ver­sity level is what will stop crime ... not po­lice.”

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