Auditor General flags dropout rate among Elimu Scholarship beneficiaries

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu noted poor academic performance of Elimu scholarship beneficiaries.  [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The dropout rate of beneficiaries of Elimu scholarship continues to increase, a recent audit by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has revealed.

Gathungu in the National Government Ministries, Department, and Agencies 2022/2023 Financial Year report raised concern over the increased rate of school non-attendance by a section of beneficiaries.

Gathungu noted that a review of the Foundation’s annual report for the 2022 academic year revealed non-attendance of 290 and 106 for cohort 1 and cohort 2.

She attributed the non-attendance to student expulsions, pregnancies, indiscipline, suspensions, dropouts and deaths.

“No evidence was provided of any corrective measures for the first five cases. Further, the current status of the students who are out of school due to medical or psycho-social reasons, pregnancy, indiscipline, and suspension cases was not provided for audit review,” read the audit in part.

The report further reveals the poor academic performance of beneficiaries of Elimu scholarship.

The auditor said a review of the annual Elimu scholarship report by the Foundation for the 2022 academic year revealed that 1,349 students and 3,151 students of cohorts one and two performed below average.

Field verification in sampled schools, the auditor said, revealed dissatisfaction of teachers with the performance of some beneficiaries, a situation the teachers attributed to failure to tie continued sponsorship of scholars to performance.

Gathungu revealed that teachers who were interviewed cited the lack of full involvement of parents or guardians in the well-being and academic progress of the students.

She said the value of over Sh1 billion payments for the fund may not have been achieved.

“The value for money on the expenditure of Sh1, 638,196,216 in respect of other grants and transfers and or payments for the Elimu Scholarship Fund may not have been achieved,” she said.

The audit also raised concern over the failure to meet Elimu Scholar's mentorship target.

A review of the Foundation’s annual report submitted for payment of consultancy fees revealed that out of the 18,000 enrolled learners, only 14,425 underwent mentorship sessions whereas 3,575 did not attend any mentorship sessions for the academic year ended December 2022.

The Auditor General noted that the report submitted to them indicated that the Foundation had conducted only 1,398 out of the agreed target of 2,147 mentorship sessions of Best Me Clubs (BMCs) across the target schools as per the binding contract.

She noted that no explanation was provided as to why the set targets of mentorship programmes could not be met in addition to the failure to provide any mitigation measures.

The State Department for Basic Education, as per the audit,  enrolled 9,000 cohort one Elimu scholars in 2021 and 9,000 cohort two in 2022. Fees and social support stipends were not paid to 219 scholars.

“Review of the Foundation’s 2022-2023 annual reports submitted to the Ministry on Elimu beneficiaries revealed that out of the 18,000 scholars enrolled in the programme for cohort 1 and cohort 2, fees and social support stipends were paid for a total of 17,781 scholars. No explanation was given for why 219 scholars were left out,” read the audit in part.

Gathungu raised concern over additional levies charged on the students by some schools.

“Field visits to sampled schools and review of the annual reports on the implementation status of the program submitted by the Foundation revealed that some schools charged the learners additional levies majorly for development, Parent Teacher Association (PTA), motivation and remedial activities which were not in line with the Project guidelines,” she said.

The report further revealed a delay in the completion of the construction of classrooms, laboratories, and sanitation facilities in 25 targeted counties.

The State Department signed an agreement on April 26, 2022, with 25 contractors for the construction of classrooms, laboratories, and sanitation facilities in 25 targeted counties at a total cost of Sh6,324,559,856. The projects’ completion dates were estimated to be between October 9, 2022, and December 11, 2022, depending on the quantity of work.

A review of status and progress reports revealed that as of June 30, 2023, a total of Sh4,040,163,268 of the contract sum had been certified and paid to the contractors.

However, the average percentage of work done was 63.7 per cent, with none of the contractors having reached practical completion of their projects approximately six months after the expected completion date.

The audit report revealed that a status report indicated that 16 classrooms, 35 laboratories, five water projects, and 388 sanitation blocks had not commenced as of June 30, 2023.

“Field verification exercise carried out in sampled counties revealed stalled projects with most of the contractors not on site for over a year and major defects like cracked walls in most of the projects and shallow pits for the sanitation projects,” read the report.

Poor workmanship in the construction of CBC classrooms.

The audit revealed that the construction of sampled 215 secondary schools in 27 counties was done within two weeks, which was not sufficient to allow concrete curing.

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

Sampled schools, it was noted, 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, forcing students to learn in classes had a lot of dust, and exposing them to health hazards.

In addition, 30 out of the 215 sampled classrooms were not in use at the time of the audit, with the schools’ management indicating that they had adequate classes for their student population.

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