Wednesday 27th April, 2005



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2005 initiatives of UTT

The University of T&T (UTT) is about to formally launch its academic programme for 2005/2006. It is therefore an opportune time to review what distinguishes this centre of learning from other universities.

The UTT has embarked on a number of important initiatives for 2005. This is in keeping with its intent of “being an entrepreneurial university designed to discover and develop entrepreneurs, commercialise research and development, and spawn companies for wealth generation and sustainable job creation towards the equitable enhancement of the quality of life of all individuals, families and communities of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean.”

The results of these actions will establish the foundation for growth that will allow UTT to support the development of the country and region for many years to come.

The UTT is utilising the model of an integrated partnership among government, the private sector and the national community. It is planned that this partnership will be significantly enhanced during this year through continuing dialogue, and the establishment of clear plans for the involvement and contribution of all stakeholders.

These will include specific interventions by the private sector partners in such activities as the establishment of centres of research, staff development, curriculum development for new programmes, and providing specialised expertise as required for specific projects.

UTT plans to focus on programmes of teaching and research that are industry-oriented rather than discipline-oriented. This is a major departure from traditional university structures, and as a result the available pool of resources will provide greater flexibility to support a wide range of programmes.

In addition, UTT will be reaching out to students beyond the traditional targets for entry, by providing bridging and transition programmes to facilitate students to achieve the desired standards of academic qualification.

In striving for and maintaining high standards of academic excellence, UTT will be responsive to the changing needs of the society in T&T and the region.

Fundamental to the pursuit of excellence and producing graduates who are well recognised around the world, UTT has already established a number of partnerships with highly recognised institutions such as:

University of Texas at Austin (petroleum and energy programmes), Cambridge University (manufacturing), TATA Infotech (information technology), Southampton Institute (maritime), Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (diploma and applied programmes), Institute of Graduate Studies in Energy (ISE), Spain (graduate programmes), University of Houston (applied engineering), and UWI.

These alliances will provide a “jump-start” for UTT and bring levels of quality and accreditation that would normally require many years to achieve. They also provide models of excellence and standards of performance to which UTT already aspires.

Major initiatives during 2005 will include the design of the main UTT campus to be constructed at the new Wallerfield Technology Park. UTT will be a very significant entity in this industrial estate, and is expected to interact closely with all other tenants, providing expertise, facilitating research, and spawning new companies from its own developmental activity.

The establishment of this campus is a major undertaking for the country, and it is expected that architectural and engineering designs will be substantially completed during 2005 to allow construction to be finished in time for commencement of teaching activity in September 2007.

While this activity is taking place, designs are already completed for an interim administration and teaching campus, located at O’Meara Estate, along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

This new facility, located on a 30-acre site, will be completed in time for classes in September 2005, and will serve as an interim campus until the main complex at Wallerfield is ready.

The O’Meara campus will subsequently be used for a Technical Institute and Skills Training Centre to service the highly populated north-east region of Trinidad. New UTT programmes in manufacturing, information technology and energy are to be offered at O’Meara.

Similarly, the design of a new UTT maritime campus to be located at Chaguaramas is well in progress, for completion of this facility this year.

Renovations to the ground floor of the Chaguaramas Convention Centre are underway. This will serve as a temporary facility allowing some maritime training to take place, particularly for seminars and short courses, while the new campus is being constructed.

The UTT maritime campus will provide training to diploma and degree levels to seafaring personnel as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). This is an international legal requirement for all personnel who work aboard ships, including sailors, officers, captains and engineers.

T&T has been deficient in this area for many years, and has not capitalised on the opportunities available for employment on our own vessels as well as those of the international merchant shipping industry.

UTT is hoping to fill this void by providing internationally recognised training, in partnership with Southampton Institute/Warsash Maritime Centre of the UK .

These are some of the priority projects of the UTT currently in progress. There are several other parallel initiatives that will provide the necessary infrastructure and create the excitement of building a new world class institution that will be accessible to our entire population and play a key role in the transformation of our economy and society.

You will read more about these initiatives in future columns.

Inescapable Gillian, Fuad

By Errol S Pilgrim

Mr Panday could not have dealt the PNM a better hand of political cards; better even than if Mr Manning had himself stacked the cards in his party’s favour. For it would seem that the wily old fox has finally outfoxed himself by falling prey to an inherent weakness that involves opening his mouth precipitately.

“Politics has its own morality” has indeed become a phrase whose dire implications the ruling party, already in election mode, will no doubt not allow Mr Panday and the country to forget right up to 2006 and what may well turn out to be the tamest elections ever this side of the Third World.

The relative mildness of the 2006 polls is assured if the fracture in the UNC is not healed. And the indications are that this latest rupture could cause Mr Panday a serious headache, so far just fractionally less severe than the one the quarrel with Messrs Maharaj, Sudama and Maraj engendered and which culminated in the UNC losing a significant election.

Mr Panday’s malodorous mouthing-off of his Johnny-come-lately political underling, Gillian Lucky, becomes even more offensively revealing for the mere reason that the words were not meant for public consumption. They were not supposed to be heard beyond the closed doors of the Rienzi Complex.

They were directed at the party ultra-faithful in caucus who were expected to exercise their usual tolerance and restraint to the accustomed rantings of their ageing but seemingly indomitable boss.

But the truth is out and the country can now make better sense of Mr Panday’s modus operandi in and out of office. “Politics has its own morality” is like saying the end justifies the means. Political power is the objective and how you get there is not what matters, even if it means “sleeping with the devil.”

Even if it means making a mountain out of a mere molehill of a parliamentary teacup brawl and tying up the already tied-up courts in nonsense litigation.

In law it is called “public mischief,” but in this country that means nothing to parliamentarians who have always been thought to be above the law.

“Politics has its own morality” is like saying it is okay to steal and lie and commit all manner of sin so long as you’re not caught and so long as the quest for political power is not compromised.

“Politics has its own morality” means all is fair in politics. It means pursuing a programme of water for all cannot be morally compromised by any facilitating activity, no matter how corrupt, so long as the laudable goal is held before a thirsty and consequently gullible public.

It means bypassing tenders procedures and making hash of established rules and regulations. It means naked duplicity, moving from a political position that was in the country’s interest while in office but has suddenly become bad for the country out of office. It means giving one’s word behind closed doors but disavowing that word in an open forum.

Personal integrity

“Politics has its own morality” envisages its adherents eschewing integrity wherever it appears to compromise the objective of political power, which is the reason why Mr Panday’s acknowledgement of the “feeding frenzy” that attended the scandal-ridden Piarco Airport Terminal project did not precipitate any corrective action by him.

So the conclusion to be drawn from his headline-snatching utterance is that Mr Panday was merely being honest with himself.

The same cannot be said for Ms Lucky. In fact, her decision to opt for an oxymoron she calls an “independent UNC” suggests that while purporting to stand for a nobler something she, too, believes that “politics has its own morality.” In her case, it’s a morality that says you can have your cake and eat it.

The fact is the personal integrity, in support of which Ms Lucky claims to have taken issue with Mr Panday’s position, would have dictated that she make a clean breast of things. Resign from party and Parliament and take your chances in a by-election. Show the Rupert Griffiths and the Carson Charleses that you’re made of sterner stuff than they. That you possess the testicular fortitude they lacked. Not have one foot in and one foot out.

So Ms Lucky’s “integrity” requires closer scrutiny. Were it the integrity that gives birth to noble actions it would have reminded her that it was as a candidate for the UNC and not something called “independent UNC” that the Pointe-a-Pierre electors decided to put her in office. And she would have walked.

But as her antics indicate, she, too, has become an irredeemable addict of Mr Panday’s politics of expediency within which is concealed the morality he talks about that is indigenous only to politics. And it is exactly that “political morality” that tells Ms Lucky it is okay to continue to enjoy the perks, power and privileges of a parliamentary position that caters to no other incarnation but that of UNC representative for Pointe-a-Pierre.

It is a position that does not—or is not supposed to—recognise something called independent UNC representative for Pointe-a-Pierre.

The same can be said about her comrade-in-arms from San Juan, Fuad Khan, a good doctor but a confused and confusing politician.

His action and that of the lady Lucky can best be described in local parlance as a big mamaguy, though their actions do indeed speak volumes for the verity of Mr Panday’s adopted dictum where he and they are concerned: politics does indeed have its own morality.

But having said all that, this latest fissure in the UNC’s armament bespeaks a ferment that has long been eating away at this country’s politics from which nobody, be they PNM-or UNC-oriented, can take comfort.




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