The Ministry of Contract Workers
The recent debate about contract workers made me think about the Ministry of Education and contract workers. I did not think about contract workers in the Ministry of Education who are clerks, office assistants, cleaners and other ancillary staff. My thoughts did not linger on the super-salaries that these individuals might be getting but on the fact that these contract workers are occupying some position which ought to be given to some up and coming person so that evolution can happen in the public service, especially the Ministry of Education.
If contract workers, not support staff such as clerks, office assistants, cleaners and other ancillary staff were terminated from the Ministry of Education then the following Departments would close because these would be without staff: The Monitoring, Evaluating, Reporting and Development Unit (MERD), Inspectorate Unit, most of NCERD, the Planning Unit, the SCCP programme, the Six Year Transitional Programme, the Learning Channel, the School Board Secretariat, the Primary Top Amalgamation Programme, the Management Information Systems Unit, the Placement Unit, the Human Resources Department, some departments of CPCE, etc.
Why must so many retired persons work at the Ministry of Education? It is incomprehensible that such a large number of contract workers are working in the Ministry of Education. Indeed, this is the Ministry of Contract Workers. As such, I was not surprised to see Minister Manickchand picketing for these workers in the streets during the Budget Debate. If these workers go home, Minister Manickchand would be a Minister without a Ministry.
As I have indicated, I am not interested if these officers get a large salary or not. I don’t really care if they are ‘fat-cats’ or not. My problem is that the majority of these contract workers are past retirement. Many of them are on their 4 or 5 contract. As such, they continue to occupy positions which should be made available to younger persons so that there is some form of succession.
This is the only way in which there can be evolution in the public service. I do not buy the Ministry’s argument that suitable candidates are not available. Suitable candidates can only be found if they are given a chance. This Ministry never gives a chance.
In fact, so abysmal is the situation that the Ministry of Education has refused to place persons appointed by the Public Service Commission. I would be more than happy to provide an example! Amna Ally’s revelation that a retired secondary trained Assistant Chief Education Officer has been placed in charge of technical education is another example that the Ministry of Education is becoming a retirement home.
The Ministry of Education knows that there is a shortage of personnel and as such has crafted a farcical Cadet Programme. So preposterous is the programme that Cadets are trained at Central Ministry about its operations and then placed in the Departments of Education in the various Regions. Cadets cannot be placed in the Central Ministry because there is no place for them.
Are these retired people valuable? One can answer this question truthfully by examining two critical areas of education in Guyana: the English and Mathematics pass rate at CSEC and the declining number of students who are writing science at CSEC.
Minister Manickchand, it is these same people who have been in charge of the education system for the past twenty years. Their ideas did not work then and it will not work now. It is these same people who supervised the cataclysmic failures evident in the education sector. Their ideas did not work then and I don’t think that they are capable of providing any now.
Mohammed S. Hussain