While former Minister within the Education Ministry, Nicolette Henry, has been promoted to acting Education Minister, some of her functions will be taken away, as Government intends to create a Department of Education.This was made known by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during a recent post-Cabinet press conference. Harmon stressed that President David Granger had confidence in Henry to discharge her duty, but added that Henry’s recent promotion would come with some changes at the ministry.According to Harmon, a Department of Education will be created, and it will formulate policies to reform and improve education in Guyana. Traditionally considered one of the roles of the Education Minister, this department will be under the supervision of the Ministry of the Presidency.Education Minister (ag) Nicolette Henry“What that does is that it takes away the responsibility for driving innovation and reforms, and puts it under the handling of an expert and technical set of persons who will be identified for that purpose,” Harmon said. “So some of the functions of the Minister of Education would have been removed and will be dealt with by a special group of persons.“The President has expressed confidence in the Minister to perform in the capacity she has been asked to perform. As it stands, Minister Henry is performing the functions of the Education Minister, and that is the function she will perform until the President, in his deliberate judgement, decides that another arrangement has to be put in place,” Harmon said.Minister of State Joseph HarmonMeanwhile, Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Thursday tabled the first financial paper for 2017, which seeks another $604 billion from the treasury. In Financial Paper No 1/2007, as presented by the Finance Minister, provisions were made for the financing of the new Department of Innovation and Education Reform, housed in the Ministry of the Presidency.The Financial Paper outlines the additional spending on this department. One of the glaring increases for this department is the more-than 700 per cent increase in employment cost for its contracted employees — up from an originally voted provision of $899,000 to more than $6.3M.This department is also slated to receive, under Capital Expenditure, in excess of $3M for the provision of furniture and equipment.On June 13, the death anniversary of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) founder Dr Walter Rodney, Government had announced that former Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine would be removed and transferred to the Public Service Ministry.The appointment of Dr Roopnaraine took effect from June 15. A government release had stated that Roopnaraine will keep his place as a member of Cabinet and a Member of Parliament.Speaking on the issue, Harmon had said that President David Granger has full confidence in the ability of ministers and in Roopnaraine. He said that Roopnaraine’s transfer followed a discussion the former Education Minister had with Granger.This will not be the first time the coalition Government has created systems in order to help ministers who were facing criticism to run their Ministry. Last month, Harmon had announced that a Ministerial Council of Legal Advisors would assist Attorney General Basil Williams in the discharge of his duties.Harmon had disclosed that the functions of the Council would include providing legal analysis and advice on the development of the local justice sector, Government’s legislative agenda and litigation matters; providing input into legal policy design, and engaging stakeholders with interest in the justice sector, where appropriate.BlundersDuring her stint as Junior Minister, Henry had been involved in a number of blunders. One of the most questionable incidents under her tenure was the Department of Culture’s failure to provide seats for the Parliamentary Opposition during the 2015 Independence celebrations.As is customary, invitations were extended to the Opposition to take part in the celebrations. When members of the parliamentary opposition arrived, however, it was to find that no seating accommodation had been provided for them.The PPP had reportedly been assured beforehand that seating would be provided, and as such left after a lengthy wait.Henry came under renewed scrutiny when, during her department’s March 2017 Phagwah celebrations, she continuously referred to the event as “Diwali” and “the Festival of Lights” while reading from a speech. It was only after prompting from the crowd that the Minister corrected herself, but she then repeated the mistake. Diwali is celebrated in the Month of October.It was subsequently reported in sections of the media that two senior officials in the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture were suspended over the Minister’s slip-up. Another had reportedly opted to leave the job.