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Education Minister adopts title of ‘Doctor’, but is yet to be conferred with PhD

The Ministry of the Presidency website profile of Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education.

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, has accepted the title of ‘Doctor’, although she is yet to complete her PhD, which is being funded by taxpayers’ dollars.

The Ministry of the Presidency website has listed the Cabinet post of Education Minister as ‘Dr. Nicolette Henry’.

In the academic world, such practice is frowned upon and is seen as a dishonest representation of one’s qualifications.

“My current status is that I am a doctor of scholar and that has been the case for a few years now. When that changes you will be duly notified,” Henry told Kaieteur News.

The Minister explained that everyone knows that she is a doctoral scholar registered at a Laureate University in the United States.

Asked why the Ministry of the President would list her as Dr. Henry, she replied, ‘It wouldn’t be wrong or right to use it’. It is the Minister’s view that in academics, once someone is a doctoral scholar, it is accepted that they are referred to as a doctor.

Henry was among a list of Ministers and Government affiliates who were receiving scholarship funds directly from Government. In late 2016, it was disclosed that the Minister’s studies had racked up $3.3M for a doctorate in public health.

The Minister was told that it is not acceptable to use the title before being conferred.

She said, “I would want to wait after I would have been so conferred to use it appropriately.”

It appears that there was some indication that Henry had already obtained her PhD because in mid-2016 while she served as a Minister within the Ministry of Education with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sports, official press releases referred to her as Dr. Henry.

Several professionals advised Kaieteur News that some persons tend to use the title PhD candidate to indicate that they are awaiting conferral, which means that one is either a PhD candidate or conferred with PhD, a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities.

Henry has made a number of gaffes since becoming a Minister of Government when the Coalition came to power in 2015. In December last, the Minister told the House of Assembly that she is not a Kshatriya (Guyanese say Chatree) and so may not know when there is Diwali or Phagwah. Earlier in 2017, Henry repeatedly confused the Hindu holidays, Diwali with Phagwah.
Many found her Kshatriya reference offensive. She never apologised for using the term.