Graduates told to look out for vulnerable

As this year’s graduating class of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies looks ahead to building their careers, they have been advised to look out for the most vulnerable members of society.

The recommendation came from UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne in his address to the graduation ceremony at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex yesterday; he also told the students that throughout his career he has upheld the values of concern for society’s most vulnerable members.

“One of the oldest roles of universities and one to which they have steadfastly held down through the years is articulating, legitimising, and transmitting some important social values. One of those values that has been important to me and all institutions with which I have been involved is that of equity and a concern for the welfare of the most vulnerable,” Sir George said.

UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne addressing the graduation ceremony

The field of health care is one career path which allows professionals to care for the vulnerable.

Sir George, a medical doctor, noted that the majority of practitioners in most health disciplines in the Caribbean have been trained by the UWI, and in the past five years the institution produced over 5,000 medical doctors.

He also raised concerns over the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean, particularly Type 2 diabetes, which is very common in Barbados.

He pointed out that one area that is particularly troubling is the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in Barbados and the Caribbean.

Sir George said that research has shown that 50 million pre-schoolers across the world were overweight or obese and that school aged children were getting progressively fatter.

“It is no exaggeration to say that obesity represents the major public health problem of our time,” he noted.

Sir George said that research done by Dr Pamela Gaskin of Cave Hill’s Faculty of Medical Sciences shows that one third of children ages 9-11 are overweight and that the problem is evident in pre-schoolers.

Earlier the Chancellor disclosed that a total of 1 792 students were graduating today, with 1 437 receiving first degrees and 355 at the post graduate level.

Citing further statistics, Sir George said the majority of the graduates, 55 per cent, were in the social sciences followed by those from the Faculty of Law.

According to him 119 students achieved first class honours; the majority of the postgraduates were at the Master’s level, while ten candidates graduated with PhDs and 12 with doctorates in medicine.

He announced that student enrolment at the Cave Hill campus stands at 5,793 which represents a decline of 16.5 per cent from the previous year, noting that the university continues to face serious financial challenges.  (NC)

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