TSC suspends four as teachers’ salary racket is revealed

TSC chief executive officer Gabriel Lengoiboni and chairperson Salome Gichura at the secondary school headteachers' meeting in Mombasa on June 26, 2014. Thousands of primary and secondary school teachers recruited in August will have to wait longer to get their appointment letters as the TSC concludes their vetting. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA |

What you need to know:

  • In total, 20 teachers had benefited from the shady promotions that cost the commission Sh2 million by the time the teachers’ employer detected them.
  • The report of June 26 asks the human resource director to set up a strong payroll reconciliation unit to prevent a repeat of the malpractice.

The Teachers Service Commission has interdicted four of its officials and called in police detectives after it unearthed a payroll scandal in which the staff irregularly promoted teachers before demanding a cut from their new salaries.

In one of the most shocking payroll frauds, the officials manipulated the payroll system and connived with teachers, whom they moved to superior grades, enabling them to receive hefty pay increases, according to documents the Nation has seen.

The benefiting teachers then shared part of the extra money they received as a result of the irregularly earned higher pay with the TSC staff who helped them to land the “promotions”.

In total, 20 teachers had benefited from the shady promotions, which had cost the commission Sh2 million by the time the teachers’ employer detected them.

Speaking to the Nation by telephone, TSC Secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni said that the staff and teachers involved in the malpractice had already been interdicted and will face the law.

“We have also reported to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Safaricom to help us identify who the numbers that received the money belong to.

ACT IS CRIMINAL

“The act is criminal and brings to question the integrity of the teachers, because it means they did not do any interview, which is a requirement before a promotion is approved,” the TSC boss said.

He asked any teacher with information on any TSC staff carrying out the practice to come out and name them.

“Teachers should report any staff at headquarters who is involved in the unprofessional conduct so that stern action can be taken against them.”

A team formed to investigate the scam between June and July recommended a further in-depth payroll audit to determine the authenticity of all teachers’ promotions, “change of salary scale points and re-designations”.

The report of June 26 asks the human resource director to set up a strong payroll reconciliation unit to prevent a repeat of the malpractice.

The TSC has since moved to regularise the grades and initiated recovery of the cash, although a team formed to investigate the issue recommended interdiction.

EXPLOITED VULNERABILITY

The committee said the affected teachers bore the greatest responsibility in recruiting, concealing and benefiting from the irregular promotions.

The team’s report said the scheme’s perpetrators exploited the vulnerability created by upgrading of A-level P1 teachers, who were moved to higher grades in 2010.

They found that victims were mostly long-serving headteachers who did not benefit from the promotions.

Teachers who were introduced to the scheme earlier recruited others.

“The teachers were given specific instructions through anonymous calls or text messages on how they were required to remit half of the salary increment after the promotions were effected,” the report says.

A preliminary analysis of the M-Pesa accounts obtained from the affected teachers indicated that the remittances ranged between Sh12,000 and Sh14,500.

The money was sent on a monthly basis to three specific mobile phone lines.

The investigators found that promotions were effected on the payroll using the passwords of four secretariat staff.

“Our investigations to date have been unable to establish whether these individuals are the ones who effected the promotions or the reversals,” the report says.

Investigators were unanimous, however, that the four secretariat staff were negligent in the manner they handled their passwords.

BEHIND THE FRAUD

The team could also not identify the owners of the mobile numbers receiving the money even after counter-checking the details with the payroll records.

But the report said the commission had written to police seeking help to obtain statements and registration details for the mobile numbers.

Identifying the owners will help the TSC identify the secretariat staff behind the fraud, the report says.

BACKGROUND: TYPES OF PROMOTION FOR TEACHERS

Common cadre

  • These are promotions effected after completion of three years, subject to satisfactory performance and does not require one to be interviewed.
  • Graduate teachers who enter the service at Job Group K will be promoted to Job Group L.
  • Likewise, Trained Diploma and Approved Teachers (ATS III - I) who enter the service at Job Group J will be promoted to K and L after serving three successful years in each grade.
  • For technical teachers and lecturers, the head of institution is required to submit a performance report.

Advertised posts

  • These are promotions effected after advertisement of vacant posts.
  • Applicants attend interviews by TSC panels.
  • They are conducted to move teachers to job group M and above.