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Ministry to boost FPE cash accountability

EDUCATION
By By Augustine Oduor | June 28th 2012

 

Radical proposals have been made to enhance accountability of free education funds.

Students will be required to sign for their school fees and get receipts immediately the cash is sent to schools.

Director for Secondary and Tertiary Education, Robert Masese, made the revelation on Wednesday, to secondary school head teachers gathering in Mombasa.

Class teachers on the other hand will be required to prepare a form list and sign against it in a radical shift to enhance accountability in schools.

The school accountant will then receive the entire school list and prepare receipts for all students to show that the intended persons received the monies sent.

Masese said the circular to this effect would be released soon to all the heads. Sources at the ministry told The Standard that the circular has been sent to education PS George Godia’s office for approval.

The announcement, however, sparked sharp reactions from the 6,000 teachers terming it a tedious and unnecessary exercise that may not be practical at all.

But Masese maintained that the method proposed is the standard practice of accountability across the world. The proposal comes barely weeks after the Ministry of Education and that of Finance announced major audit on free education cash in all public schools.

Finance minister Njeru Githae said there could be ‘ghost’ learners as some school heads could be furnishing the ministry with wrong statistics of learners in their institutions for funding. He also said some head teachers could be involved in a major syndicate to siphon funds meant for textbooks.

Crackdown

As a result, Mr Githae and his Education counterpart Mutula Kilonzo announced that a major crackdown has already been launched in all schools. “We are setting up modalities of reporting and continuous audit to ensure resources benefit the intended beneficiaries,” said Kilonzo.

The announcement by Masese to the head teachers is the latest move by the ministry to tighten loopholes that may be used to siphon education funds.

The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association National Chairman Cleopas Tirop said the ministry is free to conduct an audit in all the schools to ascertain the funds are well utilised. The Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) National Chairman Joseph Karuga did not rule out possibility of some school heads “not doing the right thing”.

In a move to ensure each school is sent cash in line with the number of pupils enrolled, Kilonzo said each school will be required to file quarterly returns of learners’ enrolment to enable the Government disburse funds through capitation.

“This cash is not meant for teachers. It is capitation which means it is sent per child,” he said.

Githae expressed fears that some school heads do not buy books with the cash sent to them.

The minister also expressed concern over the growing theft of books in schools.

“There must be a syndicate in all these. These books are not bought. Why is it that after sending the cash to schools we all of a sudden hear of break-ins to steal books,” he asked.

Githae said it may be a waste to send cash for textbooks annually if they are not properly utilised.

Book publishers have claimed that schools owe them debts of up to Sh8 billion in arrears.

The Kenya Booksellers and Stationery Association also said the schools owe them some Sh4 billion.

“We want the Ministry of Education to send its auditors to schools to conduct thorough verification if books are surely delivered. Auditing of papers should go hand in hand with physical count for goods supplied,” said the association’s national chairman John Mbugua.

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