– Minister Baksh
The non-appointment of senior officers within the education system will in no way affect the progression of programmes that have been implemented, according to Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh.
Baksh was at the time responding to a question about the non-appointment of Acting Chief Education Officer, Ms Geneveive Whyte-Nedd.
According to Baksh, he has not been in receipt of any correspondence from the Public Service Commission which is responsible for dealing with Whyte-Nedd’s appointment. “I have always stated that the constitutional body responsible for appointment of people within the public service is the Public Service Commission, not the Minister. The Minister does not appoint persons. I can’t take on the responsibility of the PSC, not only for the CEO, but for any public service position within the Ministry,” Baksh stressed.
He pointed out that it is not only the appointment of Whyte-Nedd that is being delayed, adding that such situations occur from time to time.
In recognition of the fact that such occurrences are possible, Baksh noted, “I can’t sit back and wait. I have to devise strategies, action plans and programmes that I have already outlined to ensure that the work of the Ministry goes on.” And according to him, this move is essential to ensure that the sector gets the outcomes in terms of meeting the goals and objectives of the strategic plan.
Meanwhile, no new information has been forthcoming as it relates to Whyte-Nedd’s appointment which has been pending for a number of years. In addition, concerns have been raised as to whether she will be appointed in order to receive the full benefits of the substantive position before she retires.
This state-of-affair has drawn much attention from the union fraternity, which has in various forms exhibited its concern. President of the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), Gillian Burton, in the company of other union members had earlier this year staged a picket exercise outside the Education Ministry in this regard.
According to Patricia Went, Industrial Relations Officer within the Guyana Public Service Union, which represents Whyte-Nedd, the senior officer stands to lose a considerable amount of financial benefits if she is not appointed before retirement.
Went disclosed the obvious fact that once the Acting Officer is not appointed as the substantive Chief Education Officer, she will not be able to benefit from the pension and gratuity of the substantive position.
Whyte-Nedd, Went revealed, had acted in the capacity of Chief Education Officer three times between the period 2000 and 2004 and continued acting in that capacity when the position became vacant in September 2005. And it was in 2005 that Whyte-Nedd opted to apply for the position but yet was not appointed, Went recounted.
The GPSU as a result wrote to the PSC but no response was forthcoming at that time, according to Went. In fact she related that several letters were inked to both the Education Ministry and the PSC with regards to the non-appointment.
As a result, “at a (GPSU) General Council meeting, we moved a motion to write to President Bharrat Jagdeo about our concerns about persons who were acting in the Public Sector… at that time too the Head of Custom and the Commissioner of Police were acting,” Went divulged.
According to her, last year the Minister of Education in response to a letter about Whyte-Nedd’s non-appointment had stated that the matter was being addressed, while the PSC in a separate response noted that the matter was engaging the attention of the Commission.
“I really cannot say why she has not been appointed because she is qualified for the position,” Went commented.
Among Whyte-Nedd’s academic credentials are a Masters’ degree in Education, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, a Certificate in Management and Supervisory Practices, a Certificate in Nursery Education, a Class One Grade One Trained Teachers Certificate. Whyte-Nedd has over the years held the positions of District Education Supervisor, Regional Education Officer, and Assistant Chief Education Officer.
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