Sh4b set aside for CBC classrooms missing

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has flagged approximately Sh4 billion allocated for the construction of Competency-Based Curriculum classrooms during President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration as missing.

In her National Government expenditure report for the 2022/23 financial year, Gathungu also raised concerns about the pricing of classroom construction and what she termed as poor workmanship.

The irregularities came to light after the Auditor General scrutinised the school infrastructural programme, which aimed to ensure the construction of 10,000 CBC classrooms for a 100 per cent transition to secondary schools.

She questioned the pricing of the classroom construction, seeking clarification on how the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education arrived at Sh709,398 as the standard cost of a single classroom nationwide. This was especially concerning as bills of quantities and results of market surveys were not provided for audit.

The report also highlights that the terrain and topographical layout of schools across the country varied, making it impossible to establish a standard rate.

"Furthermore, management did not provide explanations regarding the specific procurement method used and how the various suppliers were identified.

"Similarly, there was no evidence that the prices had been adjusted for inflation to reflect the current market rate for the acquisition of construction materials. The standard amount of Sh709,398 allocated was not sufficient for the construction of a classroom of the required standard,” the report stated.

“In these circumstances, the value for money for the construction of CBC classrooms, amounting to Sh3,997,687,865, could not be confirmed,” it added.

Gathungu also raised issues with the quality of workmanship of the classrooms, noting that physical verification was done for a sample of 215 secondary schools in 27 counties, funding for the construction of CBC classrooms, and interviews with the management of the schools revealed that the classrooms were constructed within two weeks, which was not sufficient to allow for concrete curing.

The report said the potential strength and durability of concrete were not fully developed. The short construction duration and insufficient funding resulted in poor quality of the constructed classrooms.

“As of the time of the audit, the sampled schools had poorly constructed classrooms, with floor cracks and deep holes. The floor in some of the classrooms had completely come off, exposing the soil beneath. As a result, students had to learn in classes that had a lot of dust, exposing them to health hazards,” the report added.

Gathungu further disclosed that the existing classrooms in most of the sampled schools had a ceiling and tiles or terrazzo on the floor. However, physical verification revealed that in some sampled schools, the management utilized their own funding to ensure they constructed classrooms that matched the standard of the existing ones.

Additionally, the audit revealed that 30 out of the 215 sampled classrooms were not in use at the time of the audit. "Interviews with school management indicated that the schools had adequate classes for their student population. In some instances, the classrooms had been converted into stores," it further read.

Moreover, the audit report looked into the capitation of students in Junior Secondary Schools, where it emerged that 7,340 learners did not receive capitation amounting to Sh110.1 million due to data inaccuracies.

The report faulted the State Department for not ensuring the data used for JSS capitation was verified by the respective sub-county offices before the disbursement of funds, leading to some learners missing out on funding.

“...187 out of the sampled 312 Junior Secondary Schools had students that did not receive capitation. The actual enrollment of the 187 Junior Secondary Schools was 29,653 learners,” states the report.

The Auditor General said field verification carried out in 312 sampled JSS in 27 counties to compare actual student population with NEMIS data used by the State Department to allocate capitation, revealed that capitation for Grade 7 learners in 125 of the sampled schools was accurate.

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