Absence of senior education ministry officials no problem
Stabroek News
October 24, 2001

Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey said yesterday that the absence of five senior education officials who have proceeded on annual leave would not affect the running of departments in the Ministry of Education.

He was responding to the lead story in yesterday's edition of the Stabroek News which said that concerns had been raised that the absence of the five would hinder the smooth running of the ministry.

In a release issued by the Guyana Information Agency (GINA), Jeffrey said that the ministry had been trying to regularise the annual leave situation, since there was a number of staff with significant amounts of leave to their credit.

GINA quoted the minister as saying that in addition to this move not having any effect on the smooth running of the ministry, "it will give other competent staff an opportunity to act in these positions thus helping them to have a better understanding of the entire operation."

Stating that no one was indispensable, he said that if for some reason the officials could not report for duty then someone else would have had to get the job done.

Jeffrey expressed surprise that the five officials going on leave for periods ranging from four months to one year would make a lead story because it was a norm for officials to be away from the office on vacation and for others to act in their positions.

He said he hoped the report on the front page of yesterday's Stabroek News was not an attempt by an individual or individuals to create fear in persons seeking services offered by the ministry. Jeffrey said that the ministry would function as normal.

Stabroek News yesterday reported that Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar; Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Administration, Romeo McAdam; Head of the Curriculum Development Unit of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Mohandatt Goolsarran; Director of NCERD, Dr Clarence Perry; Assistant Chief Education Officer (ACEO) with responsibility for secondary schools, Donna Chapman and ACEO with responsibility for primary schools Alicia Fingal had been asked to take leave due to them for periods ranging from four months to one year.

Stabroek News understands that some of the professional staff had sought leave in two different periods but this was denied.

At present, Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Development, Genevieve Whyte-Nedd, is acting as chief education officer. No one has been identified to act for McAdam.

In addition, Stabroek News understands that even before the officers were sent on leave there was a shortage of district education officers in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) and Georgetown. Also, the officers named to act for those on leave had just been appointed and lacked the institutional memory which would be needed in some key areas.