New Vision (Kampala)

12 October 2012

Uganda Loses Sh85 Billion Annually

Teachers are threatening to go on strike if their delayed salaries are not paid. ( Resource: Ugandan Teachers Threaten to Strike Over Pay

Government is estimated to have lost about sh400bn under free primary and secondary education last year, due to shoddy constructions on top of absenteeism of pupils, teachers and head teachers.

Losses due to absenteeism are estimated to be about sh85bn annually, and sh329bn losses are estimated to have been incurred during 2011 under construction projects in schools.

The report which was submitted to President Yoweri Museveni last week by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, revealed that sh13bn is wasted in capitation for pupils, who never attend class, sh54bn on teachers and sh20bn on head teachers- who abscond from duty.

According to the report of the 570 schools sampled, 21% of the children were absent on the day of the survey.

"Absentee pupils (as opposed to drop-outs) were identified during the head count and of the total enrolment of 333,598 pupils in a (sampled out area), a total of 263,093 were present while 70,505 were absent. The Commission observed that the 21% absenteeism is representative of the national absenteeism rate.

The Commission assumed that with the national UPE enrolment figure of 7.17m pupils (by then, an estimated capitation grant is wasted annually on absent pupils, equivalent to sh13bn.

More so, 25% of the teachers were found absent. On assumption that 120,876 teachers are the workforce on the payroll, it would mean that 20,219 teacher were not working. This means that sh54bn was being wasted annually, according to the report.

It was also found out that 37% of headteachers were absent, and with 11,000 UPE schools, it meant that on an average monthly salary of sh550,000, the wastage accumulated to sh20bn in a year.

The Commission also recommended that, "The education ministry's Permanent Secretary, the Commissioner of Basic Education and Assistant Commissioner for Pre-primary and Primary Education be investigated." The PS and Commissioners are being accused of diverting UPE funds to private and community schools, contrary to the policy of funding Government schools.

The Commission wants the PS and the Commissioners to be investigated on some on the funds sent to schools, under the Emergency Construction and Rehabilitation project, Presidential pledges and Community support.

The PS Francis Xavier Lubanga explains that some of the funds, like the case of St. Gyavira Mwererwe Nursery, were done with approval of Parliament.

He adds that for some of the other cases mentioned like St. Steven Nursery and Primary and Cissy Mukanga Primary, and Bishop Maraka Memorial; funds were transferred following the Presidential pledges and the Private-Public-Partnership policy.

The judicial Commission of inquiry however, says that the award of the contract was illegal and did not follow the right procedure.

The Contracts Committee of the ministry, with a representative of the Solicitor General awarded a contract to M/S Kavule Investments Ltd, to supply and deliver chemicals and regents and a contract was later formed and signed.

Lubanga also adds that that the payment structure of 60% and 40% was fully applied in the M/S Kavule Investments Ltd, secured by a Bank guarantee issued by Mercantile Bank. "This means that Government did not lose funds in this case," he explains.

"Therefore, the contract signed was valid in law," Lubanga adds. The Auditor General confirmed the structure of the Conditions of the Contract. "In a Special Audit, the Auditor General noted that that the structure was followed and accordingly disapproves the Commission's finding," Lubanga adds.

Meanwhile, the Commission also unearthed ghosts in schools, created most especially by headteachers. The ghosts were identified by comparing the official enrolment given by the school administrators with results of headcounts. The Commission found a variance of about 21.6% of the enrolled students, and these are suspected to be ghosts.

The ghosts were also found unevenly distributed among classes. Ghosts are more pronounced in Primary One and lowest Primary Seven.

It was also noted that there is a sophisticated pattern of fraud in terms of false salary arrears' claims, higher salaries than those set on scales and false salaries paid to teachers' accounts, with the Public Service and the Computer Services section of the ministry of finance as principal architects.

There are also instances of ghost schools. The Commission found an incident of schools which had been declared closed because of the closure of internally displaced people's camps in Moyo, still on the ministry of Public Service's Tuition Establishment Register for primary schools.

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