University of Guyana (UG) students will benefit from new classrooms, sports facilities and upgraded science and technology facilities once the 2015/2016 academic-year commences, says UG Vice Chancellor (VC) Jacob Opadeyi.
Among these developments are enhancements to the university’s Natural Sciences and Technology Faculties which are being funded by the US$10 million loan made available by the World Bank in 2011.
A check of the university’s Turkeyen campus this past week revealed that a lot of work has already been done to both faculties, as well as the building which houses the university’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES). In the case of SEES, the old structure was almost completely leveled and a new structure has taken its place.
During an interview with Demerara Waves Online News, Opadeyi was unable to say how much of the US$10 million has been spent to date, nor what percentage of this phase works have been completed.
“I wouldn’t be able to say how much money has been spent. All I will say is that all the construction work is going as schedule, as planned, the contractors have been giving us good service…we expect it to be finished by the end of August,” the VC said.
With just about two weeks remaining before the university’s August 31st re-opening, the contractors carrying out these works will be hard-pressed to meet the deadline. Failure to complete the work before the semester starts at the end of the month will mean that students from the mentioned faculties will have to make alternative classroom arrangements.
These works should have commenced in 2012 but a lapse in the signing of relevant documents by then Finance Minister, Ashni Singh, stalled commencement of the work.
Opadeyi also shared that the university has undertaken to construct several multipurpose classrooms in the space just behind the Education Lecture Theatre (ELT), as well as a basketball court and a tennis court near the Technology Faculty. Both projects are being carried out with the use of funds garnered via the collection of the $50,000 facilities fee which commenced at the beginning of the 2014/2015 academic year. Opadeyi said the structure is to consist of one large classroom which can be partitioned into two smaller classrooms, as well as a single 50*50 classroom.
University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) President, Joshua Griffith, was not immediately available to comment on how the developments will impact the institution’s students, but one of his predecessors, former UGSS President and current final-year Communications student, Sherod Duncan, was.
Duncan told this news outlet that he believes the developments to be good, but at the same time lamented what he believes was a lack of consultation by the administration with students on how and where some of the projects are being implemented. He questioned the wisdom in placing the basketball and tennis courts where they have been placed, arguing that activity on the facilities has the propensity to affect the work of the Student Loan Agency as well as classes taking place in the Technology Faculty.
Regarding the construction of the building to house extra classes, Duncan said “putting down a building there affect that aesthetics of the area,” and questioned why the university is not looking to build on top of the buildings which already exist as opposed to building additional buildings.
Duncan says that it is important that UG look to preserve the green spaces located all across the campus. He also believes that maintaining several individual buildings is costing the university money it cannot afford to spend.
While he noted that it is the responsibility of the UGSS to represent the interest of students on such matters, Duncan question the effectiveness of such representation given that the vast majority of the student populace of the university is unaware of the ongoing work.
According to Opadeyi, the classrooms, all of which will be smart classrooms, are supposed to be ready by August 31st. “When the building is completed classes can be moved there. The classrooms will service the entire university. All classrooms will be smart classrooms, with the capabilities to have video classes,” says Opadeyi.