Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 8th 2013 Contents This article is the third in a
series looking at the role
and impact on national
development of our universities
in the areas of science, engineer-
ing and technology. In this one,
the focus is on the need for
expanding and deepening the
research infrastructure and mak-
ing it more responsive to devel-
In teaching and research uni-
versities, faculty are required to
engage in research. Promotion
and indeed contract
renewal/tenure demand it. While
the pursuit of doctorates and
research-based master s degrees
have intrinsic value, research staff
and facilities are very expensive
and hence there must be some
direction and priority assigned if
the country is to reap the antici-
pated and necessary benefits
from this expenditure. The
research, then, should be relevant
to the needs of the country and
must have added value.
The Faculty of Agriculture at
the UWI did not survive as a
separate entity as its research had
minimal impact on the agricul-
tural production (what s left of it)
in T&T. Many recall with nostal-
gia and great sadness that its
predecessor was regarded as the
premier agricultural research
institution in the world.
The T&T academic staff, in the
main, are well-qualified and
competent. The record would
indicate that those who go else-
where do quite well. This then
points to systemic problems here.
The research infrastructure needs
a serious revision if this is to be
Absolutely essential to the
research venture is funding. It
has become part of the national
culture to throw money at the
problem and expect it to be
solved. It would appear that
short-term memories and an
inability or unwillingness to learn
are also part of the national psy-
che. It is therefore essential that
the approach taken to funding
research be different. The fund
must be subjected to rigorous
monitoring and evaluation,
preferably by an independent
authority, if value for money is to
Research is most effective and
productive when done in teams.
Building the critical mass to pro-
duce teams requires time and
sustained effort. In universities
this happens when a faculty
member, who is an active
researcher, develops a team of
colleagues and graduate students.
Such a team is normally based in
or around a lab and would be in
a position to reach out to indus-
try and government to engage in
advising and producing solutions
to developmental problems and
issues, and creating new potential
products and services.
Successful universities ensure
that such research infrastructure
is supported through succession
planning, staff hiring and funding
or access to it. A casual glance at
this, at both UWI and UTT,
would make clear how far along
the road we need to travel.
At UWI, there have been sever-
al quite active and productive
research groupings that have dis-
appeared when the lead faculty
retired or resigned. One acknowl-
edges that new areas may
emerge, like nanotechnology for
instance, and hence new facilities
and staff need be developed. But
this does not mean that the
existing ones disappear. Rather,
they evolve and hence the exist-
ing researchers update and
upgrade themselves to be current.
UTT was set up with the
intent of producing commercially
viable research output as it was
perceived by all and sundry that
UWI was not fulfilling its poten-
tial. Its cost to the treasury was
and continues to be significant.
The intention is that it should be
a driver or catalyst, at least, of
economic diversification through
innovation and entrepreneurship.
Unless it is entrepreneurship of
the retail type that is envisaged,
then a robust research infrastruc-
ture must be developed.
Further the National Innovation
System that is being envisaged
would only impact if, in addition
to the venture capital and busi-
ness incubation elements,
emphasis is placed on research in
science, engineering and technol-
ogy as it is the enabler of inno-
vation and entrepreneurship.
Monday, July 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
D PUBLIC NOTICE
The Diego Martin Regional Corporation hereby advises its Burgesses of
1) The increase in Burial Fees- $200.00 per burial with immediate effect.
This is as a result of the increased cost of interment
2) Cesspit emptying services will be available in the Region with effect
from July 8, 2013
Single family unit - $400.00 per service
Other property - $500.00 per service
Burgesses are advised that the service (at 2 above) can be accessed via
the Public Health Department located at 2 - 3 Orchid Drive, Petit Valley.
Tel No: 632-
Please be guided accordingly.
Chief Executive Officer
Diego Martin Regional Corporation.
- Far from where,
Jawaharlal Nehru, a former
prime minister of India, looked
Harold McMillan straight in the
eye, scratched his head, and posed
a simple question to the British
Prime Minister: "Far from where?"
Mr Mac had thoroughly enjoyed
his visit to India and confided to
the great man that India was an
exquisite place, only "it is so far."
To me, the pandit's question rep-
resents the smoothest six ever hit.
Yet I have a picture in my mind
of Nehru responding instead: "Very
true, but not as far as England,"
leaving the ol' Mac dazed and
dumbfounded and scratching
head, whereupon Nehru would say
simply: "My point exactly" and
change the subject.
So, when Dr Moonilal enquires
whether Dr Rowley could spell the
names of Mr Avinash Singh, Dr
Rowley can enquire whether Dr
Moonilal can spell Auchenskeoh (a
location in the constituency of To-
Dr Moonilal would be sure to be
dazed and dumbfounded and to
scratch his head.
Dr Rowley could then say: "My
point exactly," and move on to a
less scandalous topic.
Yellow or green
at the polls
We sat in class debating the sig-
nificance of the outcome of the Ch-
aguanas West by-election and it
was amazing and entertaining to
see the political views expressed.
A victory for the UNC candidate
Khadijah Ameen reinforces the old
political philosophy that a crapaud
can win in a party's safe seat.
The tribal politics that have
plagued our country since inde-
pendence will have remained.
It also signals that the UNC
seems to be convinced that, when
facing a strong male figure, the
best opposition is a woman, as we
saw in the general elections.
The question is, will it work a
second time around?
A victory for Jack Warner as an
independent, or with his own polit-
ical party, signals a shift in the po-
litical tribalism which has resulted
in a pattern of voting based on
It also suggests that the popula-
tion is becoming more politically
sophisticated and is moving to-
wards representation as opposed
to party loyalty only.
It also infers that the electorate
is more concerned with perceived
performance than perceived cor-
ruption as alleged with the Fifa
issue and the Flying Squad allega-
tions against Mr Warner.
This would therefore have no
short-term remedy but can have
many negative repercussions.
A win for the PNM candidate
Avinash Singh is a far reach if we
go based on the 2010 polls where
Mr Warner got 18,767 votes.
Singh would need an additional
8,000-plus votes added to the per-
formance of the last PNM candi-
date in 2010 to win if there is a
split in votes down the middle for
Mr Warner and Ms Ameen.
That is a mammoth task but, if
victorious, the population would
have experienced something they
never expected which is the switch
of a safe seat.
This Chaguanas West by-elec-
tion is one that has tremendous
I look forward to the day when
other politicians like St Joseph MP
Herbert Volney and Cumuto/Man-
zanilla MP Colin Partap would re-
offer themselves to the electorate
They may also have to go green
or independent, who knows.
SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
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