By Nqobile Tshili
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education diverted US$6 million that was meant to procure books for the implementation of the new curriculum, thereby compromising the quality of education in schools, Auditor General Mrs Mildred Chiri has said.
The ministry is implementing a new skills-based curriculum at a time some educationists have noted that the exercise was underfunded.
In her 2018 report, Mrs Chiri said diverting funds could have had adverse effects on the country’s education sector and implementation of the skills-based curriculum.
“The Ministry received funds amounting to US$6 090 000 to procure books for the Curriculum Development and Technical Services. However, the Ministry failed to buy the books, but used the funds on other purposes. I was not able to ascertain how the curriculum was implemented without the required materials. The Ministry might fail to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number 4, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life- long learning opportunities for all,” said Mrs Chiri.
She said diversion of funds also renders the budgeting process ineffective when resources are not utilised as per the budget dictates.
Mrs Chiri recommended that the Ministry should put up a mechanism to ensure that funds availed for a specific programme are utilised for that purpose. She said the Ministry should also fix its accounting books as its debt recovery system was in shambles and did not comply with Treasury stipulations.
“Revenue from Departmental Surcharges, Treasury Orders, Penalties and Fines some dating as far back as 2009 remained uncollected and the cumulative effect of such non collections prejudiced the State of a total amount of $2 455 872.
“Treasury Instruction 0501 stipulates that officers responsible for collecting debts shall take adequate steps to collect any sums due to the Government on due date and shall on no account allow a debt to become extinguished through lapse of time.
“The Ministry’s debt recovery system remained ineffective. There was no evidence that dunning processes were in place to recover the outstanding revenue,” she said
“Failure to collect revenue adversely affects service delivery within Government departments due to strained financial resources. Failure to recover outstanding revenue would lead to loss of State funds needed to boost the government’s operations.” The Chronicle