Troupe marches into ‘permanent’ post
Acting Chief Education Officer (CEO) Dr Kasan Troupe takes over today as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth, the first settled appointment to the role since 2019 and being the sixth person in that capacity in eight years.
Education Minister Fayval Williams confirmed the appointment on Sunday.
Leighton Johnson, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, said the group does not usually comment on ministry appointments but pointed to some areas that may require immediate attention.
“We expect that, as best as possible, she will continue to try to bring stability to the Ministry of Education at this point, to ensure that all the processes in terms of policy and school governance are followed,” he told The Gleaner.
“There is always the need for additional staff within the regional offices, so we hope that, going forward, attention can be given in this area.”
Opposition Spokesman on Education, Senator Damion Crawford, said Troupe’s appointment signals an end to “the concerns that we were sharing that the ministry was lagging its feet in appointing a permanent secretary”.
But, he said the appointment is not sufficient to address some of the issues facing the education sector. Permanent secretaries are the administrative heads of ministries and preside over the implementation of policies.
“The shortcomings in the current ministry, unfortunately, are not of policy implementation. It is more policy development. And, unfortunately, the current minister has been found wanting in creative policy development,” he said. “I would hope that the minister is willing to learn from a person who has been a practitioner and listen to recommendations that she may make.”
Troupe’s ascension to the post of permanent secretary caps a decade in which she has moved from being principal of Denbigh High School in Clarendon, to regional director overseeing schools in several parishes, to being appointed acting chief education officer in September 2019.
She is replacing Maureen Dwyer who was assigned acting permanent secretary in October 2021 after Grace McLean, who was acting in the position since February 2019, was interdicted as a result of the findings of an auditor general report.
McLean, who was appointed CEO, took up the top job of permanent secretary temporarily after Dean-Roy Bernard was transferred. Her status in the ministry is now unclear following news last week she will not face a process that could have seen her pay back millions of dollars unaccounted for at the ministry.
Troupe’s appointment surprised several senior officials in the ministry, with some lamenting the short notice given to the incumbent.
Manager of the ministry’s Student Assessment Unit, Terry-Ann Thomas-Gayle, is expected to take over as CEO. But that has caused some unease, as some persons in the leadership ranks at the ministry feel a regional director or education officer should have been promoted to the post.
“Terry-Ann is brilliant. But some of us were a little taken aback that someone closer to the classroom was not pursued. But we will see,” said a senior education administrator who did not want to be named.
In a bulletin to staff on Friday, Dwyer said she received official communication the previous day that her assignment as permanent secretary will end on September 30 and she is to revert to her substantive post as chief inspector of schools and CEO of the National Educational Inspectorate as of today.
“In light of the brief notice, I use this medium to thank you all for the support you have given during the period of my assignment to the Office of the Permanent Secretary. I believe that we worked together to settle and strengthen this ministry,” she said in the notification obtained by The Gleaner.
The education ministry is in the throes of a debate and implementation surrounding the Patterson report, an assessment which flagged the poor educational outcomes among students; concerns about the impact of teacher migration; violence in schools, COVID-19-induced learning loss, among other issues. The government is also pursuing a law which will introduce a regulatory body for the teaching profession.