Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha is yet again on the spot over the manner in which his staff spent Sh85 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, with auditors raising questions about the accuracy of their data.
In her latest report, Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu says the Ministry of Education did not adhere to financial management regulations, making it impossible for her to authenticate the information given for auditing.
Her staff were denied access to the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) while many school principals failed to acknowledge receipt of funds. There were also suspicious school bank accounts and generally poor book-keeping.
Ms Gathungu says their failure to access Nemis made it impossible for auditors to verify and validate expenditure totalling Sh59.5 billion. This is in contravention of Section 9(e)(i) of the Public Audit Act, 2015 which grants the Auditor-General unrestricted access to “all books, records, returns, reports, electronic or otherwise and other documents”.
From the amount in question, Sh36.7 billion were subsidies to 9,024 secondary schools. However, auditors were unable to verify the number of students per school and county “at any time of disbursement”.
The ministry also disbursed over Sh57 billion in subsidies for the Free Day Secondary Education programme. Upon receipt of the funds, principals are required to upload an acknowledgement receipt in the system.
“None of the listed schools raised an acknowledgement receipt in the system. Further, the disbursement schedule included payments amounting to Sh137,084,111 made to 225 secondary schools whose bank account number format differed significantly from the format of bank accounts for banks supported by the national banking system,” states the report.
There were also no confirmation receipts from the benefiting schools.
“It was therefore not possible to confirm whether the schools bank account numbers were correctly captured and the concerned schools received the funds,” Ms Gathungu says.
The Auditor-General also flags the disbursement of Sh8,284,401 to schools that had the same bank account numbers “even though the names and sub-county of the institutions were different indicating an error in the fund’s transmission. The anomaly was not explained and no evidence of refunds was provided to indicate the correction of the error”.
Teachers Service Commission
There were errors in the ministry records as 1,933 secondary schools had been listed as having the same Teachers Service Commission identification numbers although the names were different and are in different sub-counties. In total, these schools received Sh834,403,799.
The report also shows that Sh2,690,020 was disbursed to 12 primary schools that curiously shared the same bank accounts in Nemis, implying there could have been duplication in the disbursement.
“No explanation for this discrepancy has been made,” the report states.
Ms Gathungu has also faulted the procurement and supply of 2,040 computers to 200 schools across the 47 counties. The equipment was procured at Sh199, 920,000.
The ministry used an expired framework contract while the supply was made eight months after expiry of the validity of the local purchase order that had been issued.
“The basis for identification and selection of the benefitting schools was not documented and provided for audit review. Consequently, the management is in breach of the law,” states the report.