Former Jamaican prime ministers make special appeals for UWI alumni to give back
Former prime ministers P.J. Patterson and Bruce Golding have made special appeals to all University of the West Indies (UWI) past students and members of the private sector to give back to the institution.
The former heads of government also encouraged individuals to use their networks and contacts to influence a constant flow of funds to the university.
Patterson and Golding were speaking with The Gleaner during the UWI-hosted launch of Global Giving Week, under the theme 'Emancipate, Educate, Donate', at the institution's regional office on Mona Road in St Andrew, last Friday evening.
Global Giving Week is an annual programme that was created to assist the university in raising money and other resources to fund research, drive regional development, and educate and prepare leaders for the future.
Patterson and Golding, both UWI past students, were joined at the launch by other successful UWI alumni from across the region - including other former CARICOM leaders and governors general.
"We have to realise more than ever that we can no longer rely on our primary commodities and our mineral resources for our survival," Patterson told The Gleaner.
"In the days of technology, in the days where the creative industry is one of the dominant sectors in the world economy, where we are showing our prowess in culture, in entertainment, in sports, our universities have to be geared to hone those skills and that's going to take money."
He added: "The university needs a steady stream of donations. We can't depend on governments alone and the taxes that are collected. We have to give something back to make our society great. We have a broad outreach. We have to get everybody to contribute something and to commit themselves to enabling our people with their creative talents to realise their full potential. If we don't, it means that we're going to be condemned to living in a society and bequeathing to our children the lack of capacity to compete in the world around us."
Golding said: "The university is assigned to do many things with very limited resources. The governments that support the university are under all sorts of fiscal stress."
He added: "The ability of the university to mobilise resources is vital to its survival. In a different kind of situation, they would probably do that through fees. We can't do that here because if we do that, you would virtually pull the ladder on a lot of potentially successful people who wouldn't be able to get a university degree."
According to Golding, the UWI is one of thousands of existing universities that are out there in the world 'hustling', and he believes that more should be done on the part of alumni and corporate Jamaica to fill certain gaps.
"I know we have tried; perhaps we have to try a little harder - if we could engage them because many of them are doing tremendously well in all parts of the world and they have the kind of network and contacts that could perhaps make a real impact on the flow of funds to the university," he said.
During Friday's launch, Jamaica Money Market Brokers made a donation of US$1 million.
Other donors included Patterson; graduates from the Barbados University College of the West Indies; Dave Cameron, president of the West Indies Cricket Board; and 10-year-old Alex Sharp, son of Jacqueline Sharp, UWI graduate and CEO at Scotiabank Group Jamaica Ltd.