Ministry of Education slammed for spending Sh4.5 billion on CBC classrooms

Ongoing construction of Competency Based Curriculum classrooms at DEB Secondary School

Ongoing construction of Competency Based Curriculum classrooms at DEB Secondary School in Elburgon, Nakuru County, in late September last year. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

MPs have slammed the Ministry of Education for spending Sh4.5 billion for the construction of 10,000 Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) classrooms, which were built illegally and whose intended use remains questionable.

The CBC classrooms were built in secondary schools and were to be used by learners joining junior secondary school in Grade Seven.

However, the government later issued a directive that Grade Seven students should be housed in primary schools.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly on Thursday, August 24, Early Learning and Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang struggled to explain whether the taxpayer was getting value for money.

"The most prudent thing was to ensure that we get classrooms for learners as they move from primary schools in Grade Six to Grade Seven in junior secondary schools," Dr Kipsang told the PAC.

The committee, chaired by nominated MP John Mbadi, was examining Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu's report for the 2021/22 financial year.

Dr Kipsang's response prompted Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo to question whether the expenditure on the CBC classrooms, whose budget included reallocations from other departments, had been approved by Parliament as required by law, even though Dr Kipsang indicated that the construction was within the budget.

Mr Mbadi and his Kibwezi West colleague Mwengi Mutuse sought to know how the project was budgeted for after the audit report revealed that the expenditure exceeded the Sh2.7 billion allocation by Sh1.8 billion.

"You went ahead and engaged contractors without a budget. You spent public money without the approval of the National Assembly," said Mr Mbadi.

But Dr Kipsang defended the expenditure, saying, the National Treasury approved Sh4 billion for the construction of the CBC classes, of which Sh2 billion was allocated in the 2021/22 supplementary budget I.

The balance of Sh2 billion was to be provided under Supplementary Budget II for the 2021/22 financial year, which "National Treasury did not provide", forcing the PS to reallocate Sh692 million earmarked for the provision of locally manufactured desks for primary schools, bringing the total budget to Sh4.14 billion.

This, according to the PS, resulted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signing agreements with contractors for the construction of the classrooms, a procurement process that was questioned by the auditors.

The auditors also questioned the expenditure of Sh709,398 used to build each classroom, saying, it was not clear how the cost was arrived at "taking into account the terrain and topographical layout across the country which makes it impossible to have a standard rate".

The audit also faulted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for failing to provide for audit bills of quantities, market surveys and status reports on the construction of the classrooms.

"The procurement and payments to the contractors were made outside the e-procurement system," the audit said, noting that this was in violation of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Regulations.

Regulation 49 (2) states that the conduct of e-procurement procedures for the supply of goods, works and services shall be carried out by a procuring entity using an e-procurement system integrated with the government portal.