The newly created Department of Education under the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) will usurp some of the responsibilities previously designated to the Office of the Minister of Education in order to lessen the workload of Nicolette Henry.
Henry – after serving as junior Education Minister with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport since this administration assumed office – was recently promoted to the helm of the ministry following the reassignment of Dr. Rupert Roopnarine to head the newly created Ministry of Public Service under the MoTP.
Observers have since questioned the aptness of Henry to manage the country’s largest budgeted Ministry in light of several blunders she made as junior education minister.
When questioned about this however, the State Minister Joseph Harmon told reports during a post cabinet press briefing today (June 16, 2017) that the President, David Granger has expressed full confidence in Minister Henry to govern the education sector.
He also noted that some of her responsibilities will be transferred to the Department of Education to ensure she is not overburdened.
The Department will be staffed with experts and technical officers to oversee innovation and reform in the education sector as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry which was launched into the education sector.
“So the functions of the Office of the Minister of Education, some of those functions would have been removed and will be dealt with by a special group of persons,” Harmon explained.
However, Henry will still be responsible for managing the sectors of culture, youth and sport as the government has no immediate plans to fill the vacancy.
According to Harmon, “as it stands right now, Minister Henry is performing the functions of the Minister of Education and that is the functions she will perform until such time that the President in his deliberate judgment considers that there are some other arrangements that need to be put in place.”
Meanwhile, there will be a meeting at State House tomorrow (June 17, 2017) to address concerns by the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) over the lack of consultations regarding the transfer of Dr Roopnarine – a move which many consider a demotion.
Dr Roopnarine – an executive of the political party – had explained to reporters yesterday (June 15, 2017) why the WPA was not consulted.
“The place for that really is the APNU Executive, and the APNU Executive has not been meeting as regularly as it should because it is at the APNU Executive that the WPA makes it input,” he outlined.
Dr Roopnarine had also expressed that while education is his forte, he does not view his reassignment as a demotion.
“I think I would feel more comfortable if I had more of a sense of what (the new role) entails… I always knew what education entails. So this is a new challenge and I am looking forward to looking at its contours and it definitions and so on and working with it,” the scholar stated.
According to the seasoned politician, he still remains a member of Cabinet and the National Assembly and therefore in a position to continue serving his country.
He also dismissed speculations that the condition of his health formed the premise of his transfer, noting that he is in good health.
Dr Roopnarine had also expressed confidence in Minister Henry to take charge of the education sector, noting that he will always be available to lend assistance.