Auditor questions Sh1billion pay to non-existent schools

Thursday, March 4th, 2021 09:39 |
Learners in class. The Auditor General has fingered the Ministry of Education for making payments for schools that are non-existent. PD/FILE

The Ministry of Education is on the spot over questionable payment of close to Sh1 billion from the Free Primary Education (FPE) kitty to non-existent primary schools.

According to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, ministry officials channeled a total of Sh919 million to various primary schools whose registration numbers could not be traced in the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) schools register.

The transfers were effected during the 2018/2019 financial year, the report notes. The questionable disbursements, according to the Auditor General, went against the ministerial guidelines on funds disbursement.

“The schools had identical registration numbers, some of which could not be traced in the NEMIS and the list of TSC registered schools. The transfer of funds was against ministerial guidelines on funds disbursements,” reads the report.

FPE Programme

The amounts in question are almost a quarter of the Sh4 billion disbursed to 24,000 public primary schools across the country under the FPE programme this financial year.

The government has also disbursed about Sh14.6 billion to secondary schools as capitation funds this year. In the report, which was tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Gathungu also raised queries over payments made to schools as grants and subsidies.

The auditor questioned the ministry’s overpayment of subsidy funds amounting to Sh105.9 million out of the Sh59.6 billion paid out as grants to 331 public secondary schools in various counties arising from inflated enrolment data.

According to Gathungu, a comparison of the disbursement schedules for the first and second terms in 2019 with schedules for Term Three of 2018 in sampled counties revealed discrepancies between data submitted by schools and numbers released by the ministry, which were used for calculations of subsidy cash to schools.

Investigating the matter

“In the circumstances, it is not possible to confirm the authenticity of the reported subsidies totalling to Sh59,633, 897, 605,” says the report.

Gathungu also takes issue with Sh269.3 million that was overpaid to 185 secondary schools in 11 counties as subsidies but based on inflated enrolment data.

In its defence, the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education had explained that the officer who handled the data entry that resulted in a variance between the enrolment data submitted by schools and that used by the department was interdicted and the matter referred to the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) for further investigation.

The auditor, however, raised concern that investigations into the matter are yet to be concluded to date. She also queries “over payment” of grants to 99 primary schools in 13 counties amounting to Sh369 million as a result of inflated enrolment data.

“The number of students used to calculate the disbursement differed with the number of students confirmed by the sub-county directors of education.

"In the circumstances, it has not been possible to confirm the validity of the expenditure of Sh25,381,569,547 on transfers to other government units,” adds the report.

On irregular payments to schools, the report shows that Sh148 million out of the Sh25.4 billion allocation to other government entities was transferred to an improperly registered special needs education institutions and post primary schools that were not properly registered.

This was in violation of the disbursement guidelines for Special Needs Education which require that grants should only be disbursed to registered special primary schools and post primary schools.

According to the report, some of the teachers who benefitted from the kitty did not have TSC numbers and others had duplicate certificates of registration. The Sh25.4 billion includes an amount of Sh127.2 million disbursed for Special Needs Education for the months of October and November 2018, whose enrolment data, according to the report, differed.

Duplicate certificates

According to the auditor, the data indicated 12,734 pupils in October when Sh94.7million was paid against 14,157 pupils in November when top-ups amounting to Sh32.6 million were made.

The report also shows that another Sh8 million was irregularly paid to low cost boarding schools out of which Sh6.6 million was paid in excess as a result of the department using inflated enrolment figures.

A balance of Sh1.5 million, the report shows, was paid to undeserving schools not in the list of low-cost boarding schools confirmed by the county directors of education.

“Further, some schools appearing in the list of LCBCS confirmed by the CDEs did not receive funding amounting to Sh8,544, 000 thus denying funds to deserving students,” reads the report.

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