George Norton takes over Culture, Youth and Sport from Nicolette Henry

Last Updated on Monday, 28 August 2017, 18:32 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry is to relinquish responsibility for the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport from September 1, 2017 and hand it over to Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton.

“I believe that I have provided the leadership and policy direction that saw us through the two years,” she said.

Henry, who has in the past been criticised for less than satisfactory planning of Guyana’s 50th anniversary celebration and mixing up Phagwah and Diwali, said  “I will no longer have ministerial responsibility for the department and I will be taking full responsibility for the Mnistry of Education.”

She made the announcement Monday afternoon at a meeting with staff members at the National Cultural Centre.

She said Dr. Norton is expected to take over responsibility for the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport and he “would provide you with the policy direction.”

She remarked, in saying farewell, that “in some instances I appreciated you more than you appreciated me.”

The Minister cautioned staff members to be respectful and desist from posting her announcement on Facebook. Instead, she urged them to await the announcement by President David Granger.

Hours later, the Ministry of the Presidency announced the change and said Dr. Norton would remain Minister of Social Cohesion and his new office would be on Main Street. Government said the ministerial changes would allow Henry to “focus on improving the quality of and access to education countrywide” and “this forms part of Government’s efforts to ensure the effective delivery of critical public services.”

Norton was quoted as saying that he was thankful for the confidence reposed in him by the President and looks forward to the new portfolio even while he continues to focus on building social cohesion in Guyana. “I am very excited about this. There is no doubt about my interest in Sports and I have been exposed to the various cultures across the country. In my role as Minister of Social Cohesion, I have been privileged to work with all the groups across the country and so I have an understanding of what is needed already. I have always been vocal about youth opportunities and… I certainly see the youth population as being the agents of change, who can make social cohesion a reality in Guyana and so I look forward to doing my best in both worlds,” he said.

Henry expects a smooth transition and she hopes the staff members  can sustain some of those initiatives she has spearheaded.
The Minister of Education, who recently succeeded Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, admitted that she did not place a lot of emphasis on sport compared to youth and culture.
She hopes that sport is used more for tourism purposes.
The little politically known Henry several months ago was in the spotlight about the management of the National Sport Commission which is headed by former Chairman of the Youth and Student Movement, the youth arm of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the largest and most influential party in tbe governing coalition.
Dr. Norton is Vice Chairman of the PNCR.