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CSEC survey exposes financial fraud in School Improvement Fund; calls for transparency

The Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) survey has exposed serious financial fraud on school Improvement funds in primary schools that is derailing quality education standards.

The funds being abused include Schools Improvement Grants(SIG) which most headteachers are said to be on forefront.

The survey comes amid numerous challenges the public education sector is facing though national budget have huge allocation year in year out.

With funding from Swedish Development Partners, the study was conducted in three districts of Dedza, Lilongwe and Ntchisi where SIG was implemented in the 2016/2017 financial year.

The survey established that out of the 132 reported planned activities in all the 3 districts over 80 (61%) of them were implemented successfully, 11 activities (8%) moderately implemented, 14 activities (11%) poorly implemented and about 25 activities were not implemented at all.

Presenting the findings this week, Humphreys Mdyetseni, Csec consultant exposed numerous challenges SIG is facing include late disbursement of funds, lack of transparancy and accountability in schools failed to report expenditure to the District Education Office (DEOs) and among others.

Mdyetseni added that there is was also lack of proper coordination between the DEO and schools in managing and executing the grant.

The consultant disclosed that most schools have no expenditure reports as evidence for their expenditure which raises concerns as regards the level of accountability and transparency.

He added that the survey found high consumption and utilization

Csec Board Chairperson Moses Busher therefore said the study was an eye opener for authorities to revive the SIG that it bears intended purposes.

Busher added that the report aimed at tracking public funds for better usage to improve primary school education.

“Therefore, the study wants to remind that the whole purpose of SIG is to improve quality education as such ministry of education should continue offering trainings to those involved in planning, budgeting and executing SIG funds to ensure that schools implement activities in line with National Education Strategy Program (NESP),” says Busher.

In his remarks, Parliamentary education committee chairperson, Dr. Elias Chakwera observed that there were a lot challenges the education sector particularly primary schools that need urgent attention from authority

Chakwera therefore called for transperancy and accountabity on SIG usage that promotes education standards in the country.

Csec survey used multi stage sampling approach to identify key respondents targeted central, districts, zonal and school level functions and 126 people were interviewed.

In terms of allocation , the base rate per school is MK60 000 for an enrollment threshold of 1 000 pupils and for any additional pupil, receives MK300.

In the 2016/17 national budget Ministry of Education Science and Technology was allocated MK146.2 billion which included both development and reccurent expenditure.

The amount was shared amongst the four programmes within the vote and out of the basic education share , MK90.3billion went to Primary Education.

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