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Changing the Trajectory of the Caribbean

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, July 25, 2016

The Honourable Dr Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago describes The UWI as “The star in the crown of Caribbean nations that has kept the dream of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) alive.” Dr Rowley, a graduate of UWI Mona, was speaking at a ceremony at the campus on July 20, 2016, where he was inducted into Prime Minister’s Park. The park honours UWI graduates who are or have been heads of government. He reminded the gathering, “It is the responsibility of all of us who have had the privilege of studying at The UWI, to ensure it continues to serve generations to come.”

Comparing the past and the present, he continued, “In 2016, the demands on the University are much greater than any time before. The expectation of our people in the age of communication, is far greater than in my day. Today, every child with a cell phone in hand can rise to his or her highest potential if they do not allow irresponsibility and a sense of entitlement to replace hard work. We in turn, have a responsibility to make the resources available to the up and coming ones. In this period of independence and CARICOM we must ensure the dream continues.”

The induction was among a schedule of activities from July 17-20, during Dr Rowley’s first official visit to Jamaica as Prime Minister. He also met UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and members of the regional University’s executive management team, followed by students from Trinidad and Tobago studying at Mona, and was also given a tour of Mona’s facilities including its Faculty of Medical Sciences.

During the exchange with Vice-Chancellor Beckles and the executive management team, Dr Rowley clearly defined his expectation that The UWI should continue to ensure its relevance in the Caribbean context and called on the University “To supply the governments of the region with a steady stream of scientific data to make informed decisions.” He emphasised that government decision-making that was based on data would achieve the right outcomes.

This official visit of Dr Rowley to Jamaica was aimed at advancing diplomatic relations between the two largest CARICOM nations. He noted that there was great fragmentation taking place across the region with each island establishing institutions within their country that could benefit from a collective approach and as a result, “The Caribbean regional identity is being lost.” He suggested that The UWI model could serve as a template for other areas of inter-regional cooperation.

During an afternoon town-hall address at The UWI Regional Headquarters, Vice-Chancellor Beckles commended Dr Rowley for coming to Jamaica personally to meet with public and private sector officials on issues such as perceived trade imbalances, the denial of entry of some Jamaicans into Trinidad and Tobago and the resulting threatened “trade war.”

He avowed, “Prime Minister Rowley has behaved perfectly consistent with the fine education received at The UWI. In the midst of a quarrel, he rose above it and came back to Jamaica and engaged the private sector and state with the message that “Whatever our disagreement, we are one indivisible family.” Two of the youngest serving Prime Ministers in the Caribbean - the Honourable Andrew Holness of Jamaica and the Honourable Dr Keith Rowley, of Trinidad and Tobago - have risen to the heights of statesmanship. We are here in what I am sure historians in the future will call the ‘Holness-Rowley summit’ that will change the trajectory of the Caribbean.”

During his town hall remarks, Dr Rowley sought to ease the worry among students about the possible cuts to the government’s funding of tertiary level education. He expressed, “I want to thank you students for being so excited about your future and to give you the assurance that our Chancellor and our Vice-Chancellor and our PVCs, our teachers and the taxpayers of the region have promised you a bright future and that future could be delivered to you if only you grasp it with both hands.”


The full recording of Dr Rowley’s Town Hall address at on The UWI TV YouTube channel:


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