Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Sir Hilary should not have apologised — UWI lecturer

Published:Tuesday | October 18, 2016 | 10:00 AMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

Dr Christopher Ogunsalu, the outspoken Montego Bay-based 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 Nigeria-born 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."