Sun | Dec 8, 2019

UWI must produce more PhDs, says professor

Published:Thursday | October 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

An Antigua-born academic says it is critical for the University of the West Indies (UWI) to graduate more PhDs to teach students at degree-granting colleges that are emerging throughout the Caribbean.

Professor Paget Henry, a lecturer in sociology and Africana studies at Brown University in the United States, made this observation during his contribution to 'Freedom and Power in The Caribbean: The Work of Gordon K. Lewis', a symposium held September 30-October 2 at the UWI's Mona campus.

"It is crucial for the UWI to produce PhDs, particularly in the areas of Caribbean history, sociology, political science, economics, literature and the arts," Henry told The Gleaner. "We can import technical information but we cannot import self-knowledge," he added. "This self-knowledge can only come from artists and scholars trained at the UWI."

Henry used the situation in Antigua and Barbuda as an example. He said 300 of the 1,000 students who graduate annually from high schools in that country are qualified to enter the UWI but not all of them can be accommodated.

Not enough qualified lecturers

The two major political parties in that country support building a university there to meet these demands, but are concerned that not enough qualified lecturers are around to teach degree prospects.

"I think that Caribbean countries are just beginning to recognise the magnitude of the problems they have on their hands," Henry said.

According to the UWI's Campus Registrar department, 169 people have earned doctorates from the university in the last 10 years.

Henry warned that Caribbean students would continue to look overseas to earn degrees if the matter is not addressed urgently. Citing a 2008 World Bank report, he said the region already has the highest emigration rate in the world.

Northern Caribbean University and the University College of the Caribbean have joined the UWI and University of Technology as degree-granting alternatives in Jamaica. The Mico University College (formerly Mico Teachers' College) was granted degree status in 2006.

Henry left Antigua for the US with his family in 1964. A graduate of Cornell University, he has taught at Brown University for more than 30 years.

The Gordon K. Lewis symposium was staged by the UWI's Centre for Caribbean Thought. It examined the work of Lewis, a Wales-born academic who taught for many years at the University of Puerto Rico.

Lewis, who wrote the books Puerto Rico: Freedom and Power in the Caribbean and Growth of the Modern West Indies, died in 1991.

'It is crucial for the UWI to produce PhDs, particularly in the areas of Caribbean history, sociology, political science, economics, literature and the arts.We can import technical information but we cannot import self-knowledge. This self-knowledge can only come from artists and scholars trained at the UWI.'