Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves will shed the foreign affairs portfolio to take up ministerial responsibility for post-secondary education.
He told an ongoing press conference, in Kingstown, that Senator Keisal Peters, who has been minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since November 2020, will be promoted to full minister.
Peters will also be responsible for foreign trade, regional integration and the diaspora unit.
“She has done well as Minister of State,” he said, of Peters, adding that the requisite instruments have been prepared and will be sent to the Governor General later this week or early next week.
“… there are one or two administrative things I have to put in place under the relevant constitutional provision,” Gonsalves said, as he reported on his official visit to Taiwan.
He noted, however, that the government cannot have a foreign policy without the prime minister being involved.
The prime minister said that there will be increased Taiwan scholarships and training programmes for Vincentians and exchange of students.
He said there are ongoing discussions involving Kingstown’s ambassador to Taipei, Andrea Bowman.
Gonsalves said that he will be doing his part in Kingstown, interacting with Taiwan’s representatives in the Vincentian capital.
The prime minister said that he sometimes hear people say that the Community College cannot continue certain courses because the lecturer has migrated and the college cannot get a replacement.
“… the kinds of relations we have, once I know in reasonable advance, I could get persons, whether it is from Cuba, Taiwan, Jamaica or whatever country,” the prime minister said.
“We shouldn’t be having any of that kind of a thing. That’s if you want to operate in a differ level,” he said, adding that the country has to continue to train people, even as he noted that some people will stay and others would go.
Gonsalves said he is going to take a special interest in post-secondary education, beyond what he has been taking over the last 21 years.
He noted that Minister of Education Curtis King, last month, piloted in Parliament amendments to the relevant laws, paving the way for a new ministerial head for post-secondary education.
“As you would notice, this government doesn’t function other than through careful thought, so I went and did that, because I know what we are going to be doing and we have been planning it all the time so that things move in a logical sequence,” the prime minister said.
He said he had discussions on Monday with leading officials in the Ministry of Education and the director of the Community College.
Gonsalves said that King wanted to focus more centrally on early childhood, primary, and secondary education.
He said the minister — a retired educator — has a special interest in special education, technical and vocational education at technical institutes and technical centres, and adult and continuing education.
“We have separate discussion on that, but I said that about the enhanced involvement in a number of things relating to post secondary and tertiary education,” the prime minister said.
Gonsalves had spoken about splitting the education ministry on July 26, when he appeared on his party’s radio station, Star FM.
“What we are going to do, certain matters, we are going to take out of the Ministry of Education and we are going to have post-secondary education that is to say the Community College in its four divisions and university, tertiary education, those are going to be allocated to a different minister,” he said than.
“They don’t know who minister that yet, but you will hear it shortly. The instruments have been prepared to go to the governor general and I don’t know whether I will do it before the convention or after the convention,” he said, referring to the ULP’s 25th convention, which took place on July 31.