How Ministry Lost Millions To Ghost Learners And Double Payment To Public Schools
An audit has revealed that taxpayers could have lost millions of shillings in fees for non-existent students in public schools.
More money could have been lost due to double disbursement of funding to certain schools in what appears to be a collusion between Ministry of Education officials and school administrators. The audit report was recently tabled in Parliament.
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu reveals instances of inflated numbers being used to compute school allocations, as well as instances of learning institutions sharing bank accounts.
The State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education disbursed Sh638,435,316 to secondary schools in October 2020, according to the report for the fiscal year ending in June 2021.
The funds were distributed to 3,808 schools for operations and 3,810 schools for tuition.
The ministry justified the payment by claiming that some schools did not receive previous funding because their Form One admissions data in the National Education Management Information System had not been updated (Nemis).
However, there is no documentation demonstrating that the institutions did not receive the earlier disbursement.
“A sample of the schools included in the list receiving this disbursement had been included in the lists that had received their regular disbursement on time,” the report says.
It goes on to say that special needs schools received Sh684,722,561.
The report, however, reveals a 438-student discrepancy in the enrolment data used to compute the disbursement. According to the document, the disbursement for January to March 2021 was Sh98,049,371, divided into two tranches.
The first disbursement was Sh56,773,571 for 17,508 students, while the second disbursement was Sh41,275,800 for 17,946 students.
“The variance of 438 pupils has neither been explained nor reconciled,” it says.
Sh22,40,000 was allocated to 82 secondary schools in arid and semi-arid areas, with each receiving Sh270,000.
According to the ministry, the money will be used to help needy students. However, there are no documents demonstrating how the students were identified.
Auditor access to enrolment data was denied, so the true number of learners funded could not be determined.
“Subsidy to public corporations includes to 9,024 secondary schools, amounting to Sh36,739,481,231. The data on the number of students per school and county could not be verified,” the report says.
According to the report, the restriction on Nemis data is a violation of the law.
Sh57,029,236,841 was disbursed by the ministry for free day secondary education. However, none of the listed recipient schools have included acknowledgement receipts in their accounts.
Another Sh137, 084,111 was paid to 225 secondary schools whose account numbers did not match the format supported by the national banking system.
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The funding disbursement report included Sh8, 284,401 in payments to schools with identical bank account numbers.
The schools were identified as being in different sub-counties and with unique names. There were no refunds to indicate that the error had been corrected.
Another Sh2, 690,020 was disbursed to 12 primary schools that shared the same bank account numbers in the NEMIS system. According to the report, this suggests that there may have been duplication in disbursement.
Disbursement guidelines include a requirement that the school maintain a uniquely identifiable bank account in a reputable bank.
The report also called into question transfers totaling Sh394,686,400 and Sh70,200,000 to 32 primary teachers training colleges and four diploma teachers training colleges, respectively.
The colleges have not confirmed the funds, raising concerns about their legitimacy.