LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The late School Improvement Grants (SIG) disbursement is said to be compromising quality delivery of education in primary schools across the country.

It’s therefore necessitated by poor implementation of decentralization policy where bureaucracy is at par when disbursing resources.

This is what Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC)’s 2017 Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) with focus on School Improvement Grant (SIG) has revealed.

The study aimed at tracking the implementation of the 2016/17 SIG in Mzuzu, Chikwawa, Machinga, Ntcheu and Mchinji.

The study has established that SIG financing is grossly inadequate with the provision falling consistently below the recommended 64% of the education budget.

In the 2016/17 financial year, the allocation to councils for education sector was MK 9.1 billion. Of this budget, SIG got MK 4.2 billion (same as 2015/16 FY) representing 46.2% share a drop by 8% of the 2015/16 allocation.

Again, the SIG provision in 2013/14 and 2014/15 SIG was 49.4% and 67% respectively of the council budget which is contrary to Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) guidelines for resource allocation to SIG.

Only during 2014/15 FY that councils managed to allocate over the recommended 64% of funds to SIG. In the districts, the pattern was similarly unimpressive: Mzuzu (30%); Chikwawa (50%); Machinga (47%): Ntcheu (48%); and Mchinji (51).

The report also has revealed other challenges impeding quality delivery of education including Inadequate funds lack of transparency and accountability in schools as schools failed to report and failure by schools to implement activities

In view of these findings, the study has made recommendations including treasury to seriously consider increasing council allocations in general and education budget at council level in particular bearing in mind that most of the ground work is done at the districts.

“The councils should also ensure that they conform to the 64% share of education resources at council level as proposed by the MoEST.

Treasury should disburse funds much earlier than was the case to allow schools implement their planned activities with ease since the school calendar starts between July & September. Additionally, it should also stick to the proposed cash-flows,” recommends CSEC study.

CSEC board chairperson Moses Busher told The Maravi Post that the study will be used to hold government accountable on the management of the SIG and to inform future decisions on the implementation of the same.

Echoing on the same, Parliamentary committee on education chairperson Dr, Elias Chakwera lauded CSEC for the finding saying a blue print for lawmakers to provide legal framework formulation insights.

Chakwera observed that decentralization policy is not making any strides due to incompetency of local councils in handling finances.

He therefore assured CSEC that the committee will seriously look into the findings for possible action towards school development funds implementation.

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