A FARMER from Trinidad today graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a Masters of Business Administration – at the age of 69.
Ramgopaul Roop achieved academic success even though his parents Poyah and Roop Bataw could not read or write.
Ramgopaul – who had seen his three children study to degree level and beyond – fulfilled his ambition by combining full-time work on his smallholder farm under the blazing tropical sun with long nights of study, sometimes until sunrise.
His dedication paid off when he was awarded an MBA with Distinction.
He said: “This being the last chance on the last train, the only option was to sit tight and hold on.”
He added: “The past 32 months have been very challenging but stimulating. It shows there is no age limit to academic achievement and personal professional development.”
Ramgopaul – who is regional administrator of the Caribbean Agribusiness Association – studied online at Edinburgh Napier, one module per trimester.
He was supported by his wife Beena, who read and re-read drafts, and even the family dog, Coco, who had a special bed made up in Ramgopaul’s study.
The farmer completed his studies last autumn but was unable to travel from the West Indies to Edinburgh for the ceremony as it clashed with his commitments at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in the Cayman Islands, so he is receiving his degree at this summer’s graduations instead.
In the intervening months, he has used research from his MBA dissertation to help develop a policy framework for the cassava industry – a 21st century multi-purpose crop thought to have the potential to transform the economy of the Caribbean.
Soil and water management techniques on his farm which can pave the way for intensive vegetable and tree crops production were also praised as “a diversification dream” in his submission to the 2017 Global Contest on Sound Solution in Farming for Biodiversity.
Ramgopaul said: “The skills acquired in writing assignments and my dissertation are now being applied in my everyday activities.”
Ramgopaul had been introduced to the work of the university by Southpoint Education International, which supports online, distance degrees offered by Edinburgh Napier.
Mammed Bagher, Director of MBA Programmes at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Ramgopaul’s achievement is testament to our ethos of education for all, regardless of age or social background.”
He added: “Our global online suite of MBA programmes is suitable for learners who are unable to take part in the traditional classroom environment. We are continuously investing in our online staff and student community so all our learners feel very much part of the wider university network without physically being present.”