Schools chief Mary Rodrigues is leaving the Ministry of Education after being appointed to lead a new unit responsible for making cuts across the civil service.
Ms. Rodrigues will be in charge of putting the findings of Ernst and Young’s report on the “rationalization” of public services into action.
The move is a permanent switch for Ms. Rodrigues, who has led a period of reform in Cayman’s school system since taking the job in 2009.
Her deputy, Christen Suckoo, will take over as acting chief officer in the Ministry of Education, Labor and Gender Affairs for at least six months while a recruitment process takes place, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said on Wednesday morning.
The EY report was being presented to Mr. Manderson – the head of the civil service – by the consultants later on Wednesday, prior to its public release.
He said the project, which is expected to see some government services sold off or privatized, is critical to the future of the civil service.
He said he had persuaded Ms. Rodrigues to lead a four-person team charged with ensuring the report’s recommendations were acted on quickly and effectively.
“One of the criticisms of civil servants and of government in the past is that we are really good at getting reports but we are not so good at implementing those reports. I am keen to ensure that does not happen under my watch,” he said.
Speaking at a conference for teachers at Mary Miller Hall to launch the new school year, Mr. Manderson said it is essential to cut the cost of government.
“The report will determine what services we should stop doing; what we can combine, amalgamate or sell off to the private sector.
“We are doing this because government has made it very clear to us that our personnel costs are too high. We have a vision of a civil service that is leaner but better paid.
“If we are going to ask the government to pay us better – and we are – we should ensure that we are only doing the work that government needs us to do. Do we need to be in the garbage collection business, do we need to do all the other things that we do?
“We really need to focus in on all the key functions of the government.”
Speaking prior to the announcement, Ms. Rodrigues gave a presentation to teachers highlighting the improvements in exam results across the school system.
She said, “This is a very exciting time in the history of our education system. For the past several years we have been engaged in a very ambitious reform agenda.”
She said the secondary education system had been restructured, long-standing issues in teaching literacy and numeracy had been addressed and a new national curriculum implemented for “early years” alongside the re-introduction of reception classes for young children.
She said exam results have been on a consistent upward curve since 2007, from 25 percent of students achieving five high level passes to nearly 70 percent last year.