President Juan Manuel Santos today named Yaneth Giha Tovar as Colombia’s new minister of education. The position was left vacant last month when Gina Parody resigned following the failure of the administration’s peace accord at the ballot box.
Giha, a University of Los Andes-educated economist who has spend the past two years in charge of Colciencias, the nation’s science and technology research agency, will take over the ministry immediately
“It’s a pride — an honor — and it’s a huge responsibility,” said Giha. “I want to energize a topic that is a priority for the country, and for me personally, with an excellent team.”
Parody stepped down from her post days after Colombians rejected President Santos’ peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a plebiscite on October 2.
She had been a leader of the “Yes” campaign to raise support for the deal and ended up being the only cabinet member to be replaced following the humiliating result. Parody, one of the most high-profile LGBTQ voices in Colombia, had also faced hostility and personal attacks throughout the year from those who criticized her priorities as head of the education ministry.
Yaneth Giha has now taken over after the position was vacant for more than a month. “I welcome you to the cabinet so that you continue to work for education,” said President Santos.
She earned a master’s degree in war studies from King’s College in London and a specialization in conflict resolution from Javeriana University in Bogotá. In government, she has worked in the National Planning Department‘s military forces division and in the Defense Ministry as deputy minister of strategy.
“The president put a vote of confidence in me because this is one of the most important portfolios of this government,” said Giha. “Education is the center and the linchpin of much of what is being done.”