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How education ministry paid Sh1.8 billion to ghost secondary students

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The Ministry of Education paid out a whopping Sh1.8 billion for “ghost” students in secondary schools in the 20192020 financial year, a new audit report shows.

In her latest report on the ministry, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu reveals how money was disbursed to non-essential projects including payments to publishers who did not exist.

The auditor says overpayment for non-existing students was as a result of erroneous computations of July and September, 2019 disbursements, inflation of enrolment numbers in January, 2020 and double payments to some schools.

The report says the overpayment of subsidies was to 2,610 public secondary schools in different counties.

“The subsidies balance includes an amount of Sh1,815,126,548 being overpayment of subsidies to 2,610 public secondary schools in different counties. The overpayment arose from erroneous computations of July and September, 2019 disbursements, inflation of enrolment numbers in January, 2020, and double payments to some schools,” reads the report.

Accuracy and validity

In the damning report, the auditor also reveals that another Sh26.8 million was sent to schools whose existence was in doubt.

The auditor further shows that five schools who were among the beneficiaries of the disbursements had questionable status as they did not have registration certificates, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) appointment letters and posting of principals, boards of management minutes approving opening of bank accounts and other documents required under the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education annual guidelines on disbursement of Free Day Secondary Education Funds (FDSE).

Reports the auditor; “In the circumstances, it is not possible to confirm the accuracy and validity of the reported subsidies of Sh58.7 billion for the year ended 30 June, 2020.”

Millions more were paid as rental charges for office space for various State department’s offices in the counties, which the ministry could not explain.

The auditor further questions the authenticity of Sh86 million paid for rent because valid lease agreements and approvals for the procurement of the offices were not provided for verification.

In 2018, a report by the Ministry of Education revealed how the government paid billions of shillings to “ghost” pupils under the Free Primary Education (FPE) project.

Data showed that the total enrollment of pupils in public primary schools then stood at 8.9 million.

The government pays Sh1, 420 per child per year, translating to Sh5.6 billion.

Challenges with acquiring children’s birth certificates, which is mandatory for registering learners in the new National Education Information Management System (Nemis), was also to blame for those yet to be listed, the report said.

Last year, a parliamentary report revealed the names of four publishers contracted by the ministry but whose contract details could not be availed.

The parliamentary watchdog further exposed how a rogue official stole free education cash channelled to one of the fictitious schools, Mundeku Secondary School in Kakamega County.

The school was among other “fake” schools in the ministry records, which received the allocations from the ministry.

The report indicated that the clerical officer identified a loophole in the government system for disbursing funds to schools and registered Mundeku Secondary School.

He then opened an account at Equity Bank through which he would receive the money.

The Public Accounts Committee report shows that the man fraudulently received Sh11,131,305.53. It, however, does not state how long the ‘school’ was in government records and how it avoided the attention of auditors.

Books list

Others were Belgut Kaptugen Starehe Boys in Belgut sub-county, Kericho County (152 students), Ikonge DEB in Kisii Central, Kisii County (448 students) and Dol Dol Boys in Laikipia North, Laikipia County (64 students).

A list given to publishers to supply books to schools under Secondary Quality Improvement Programme, for example, indicated that Mundeku had an enrolment of 1,188 students.

Such high enrolment numbers are usually registered in national and a few extra county schools.

Considering that the government allocates Sh22,244 per learner in secondary schools, the money lost to the rogue official could be more. The auditor put the figure at Sh27,329,598.95 before the ministry submitted the lower figure.

Failure by the ministry to fully migrate to Nemis was blamed for the theft of billions of taxpayers’ money pocketed by corrupt officials and school heads, according to the PAC report.

EDUCATION MINISTRY THEFT

• Ministry of Education could have paid out a whopping Sh1.8 billion for “ghost” students in secondary schools

• Auditor also reveals that another Sh26.8 million was sent to schools whose existence was in doubt

• A clerical officer identified a loophole in the government system for disbursing funds to schools and registered Mundeku Secondary School. He then opened an account at Equity Bank through which he would receive the money.

By PD.co.ke

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