Feature Address from Dr The Honourable Keith Rowley Prime Minister of the Republic of T&T at UTT Symposium

Feature Address:

Dr. The Honourable Keith Rowley,

Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Second Annual Research Symposium

“Research to Promote
Sustainable National Development”


20th August, 2019

Good morning,

Today, it gives me great pleasure to deliver the Feature Address at The University of Trinidad and Tobago’s Second Annual Research Symposium. Professor Kenneth Julien, Chairman of UTT’s Board of Governors, thank you for extending the invitation, so that I, along with other stakeholders and by extension the wider national community, can be made aware of the innovative research being undertaken by the only national University.

In my capacity as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I take great pride in addressing an audience comprised of UTT faculty and staff, and most importantly, students, who are the architects of tomorrow’s future. I see today’s Research Symposium as a step in the right direction for UTT, since, among other things, it will greatly assist in formalising the University’s role and impactful presence within the local, regional and international context. 

At this time, it is critical for us to examine the significant contribution that UTT is making in the areas of research, such as Climate Change and Renewable Energy; Food Security and Nutrition; Crime, Well-Being and Society -- all of which are key areas aligned to the nation’s long-term growth and prosperity.

Upon assuming office and taking up the mantle to “place the country on the road to recovery and stability”, the Government saw it fit to develop a detailed, comprehensive, wide-ranging and broad-based suite of policy initiatives, projects, programmes and measures that are set to promote human-centred, economic progress. These are contained in the Vision 2030 National Development Strategy 2016-2030.  The overarching theme of the NDS Vision 2030 - “Many Hearts, Many Voices, ONE VISION” - places people at the centre of development, as they are the drivers of our movement forward.

As the national University, the contribution of UTT to the realisation of that vision is significant and cannot be underestimated. Hence, there must be a categorical alignment of UTT-led research for the enhancement of the lives of every citizen and the benefit of national interests.

UTT -- as a premier tertiary-level institution designed to create a knowledge-based economy -- must seek to address the gaps in national development through its programme offerings and impactful research. 
This should be done through the provision of graduates, who are ready for the job market, who will be contributors to the body of existing knowledge -- and, as citizens, well-equipped to help build our institutions and add value in other key areas of development and, particularly, in the diversification of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.

According to Pillar 5, the Tertiary Education Enrolment Rate of the Global Competitiveness Index
2017 – 2018, Trinidad and Tobago received a rank of 35 out of 134 in 2018. This is certainly a laudable achievement and is a measurable indicator of the Government’s thrust to create a highly-educated citizenry, as Trinidad and Tobago seeks to establish itself as a major, regional Centre for innovation. In so doing, we shall continue to increase our level of competitiveness on the global market.

 A notable achievement such as this, was due in part to a number of strategic interventions and financial investments initiated by the Government, thus ensuring that students of higher learning are equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to operate in a rapidly changing environment.

 Ladies and gentlemen, I must applaud the strategic path of UTT, as it is demonstrating a responsiveness to our society’s needs, which is critical to meet the demands emerging in the tertiary education sector, and the 21st Century. This is inclusive of incorporating and embracing digital transformation in an era of modernity.

To the degree that current challenges keep evolving, institutions, like UTT, must also evolve to assist in providing practical solutions to these problems. Today’s Research Symposium is, therefore, not only relevant but timely. Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to this current research platform being used, in the near future, as an aid in informing and shaping the direction of national policy. 

As Prime Minister, I have chosen to apply a “data-based, scientific, holistic and evidence-driven approach to governance” and, as University researchers and academics continue their work, I believe that this approach to governance will not be lost on today’s audience. Likewise, your approach to research is built on the premise of rigorous and thorough investigation of a hypothesis supported by meticulous methodology.

Today, I am pleased, particularly as I observe that several areas identified for national development are being addressed via abstracts and poster presentations. I look forward to closely examining the posited solutions that have been identified through this Research Symposium, as I believe we have to go beyond surface dialogue to timely implementation.

In today’s global village, a country’s prosperity depends on its social capital -- its people’s ability to generate new ideas and convert knowledge into their socio-economic benefits. This can only be achieved by fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, and a relationship between the public sector, the private sector, civil society and academia. Consequently, this will have also an indelible effect on decreasing the University’s dependence on the national treasury while promoting self-sustainability.

Today’s Research Symposium, l consider as another attempt in the shaping of a better future, for us all. Although we are living in seemingly perilous times, world-wide, do not be daunted. As today’s researchers and possibly tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, you are expected to rise to these challenges, which not only require creativity and ingenuity, but also focused application.

I expect you to seek out other avenues to commercialise your research as this can be both a source of academic excellence, revenue generation, and giving this country a competitive advantage in the 21st century.

It is my expectation that from those deliberations will come a greater understanding of the game-changing trends of the 21st Century. I charge you, the participants, with helping us to decipher those trends, bringing this country, overall, to a closer understanding of such movements. From your discussions should come, a much greater benefit to us all; helping some nationals to move from a sense of survival to a world view of individual responsibility, entrepreneurship and prosperity.

I look forward to your journey to even more impactful areas of research, building on strategic knowledge, which will help our citizens to discover, create, innovate and going on-- quite ambitiously -- to fixing those areas in our human existence which could eventually touch the lives of millions.

It is my charge here today that as participants your discussions will enable the University of Trinidad and Tobago, to become, eventually, an institution, endorsed internationally as a major game-changer of the future.

Citizens in Trinidad and Tobago are faced with many questions, among which is: “What kind of future is possible in Trinidad and Tobago?”

Your discussions, I sincerely anticipate, will help us, to explore and elaborate by asking further: “Why do we want or need to change? What in us needs to be changed?  How then do we resolve, re-create, and develop further, as a people? How do we make that change? And what path or paths do we follow to get us to that better life?”

Remember, the saying that a people will only get the future, which they create…today!!

Once again I wish the leadership, management, faculty, staff and students the very best on this your Second Annual Research Symposium and I look forward to more impactful research from the University of Trinidad and Tobago. This research would most certainly contribute to the pool of data which could and must be used to influence the decision-making both in the public and private sector. We anxiously await the fruits of your deliberations and welcome your important input into national development. 

I thank you.

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