Mzimba — The recent Public Expenditure Tracking Survey report of March, 2017 has exposed discrepancies in the way School Improvement Grant funds are managed in primary schools across Mzimba District.
The Public Expenditure Tracking Survey was conducted by Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) in partnership with Mzimba District Education Network (Mziden) to check on the utilization of funds given direct to schools under school improvement grant.
Speaking in an interview Tuesday, Mziden chairperson, Teckson Amadu said the report indicates that schools are not getting enough funds compared to the base-rate each school is supposed to get.
Amadu said, for example, the report shows that out of 301 schools that received the grant, only 238 got exact amount while 63 received less than the K600, 000 which is the base rate amount.
Schools such as Kavitowo, Chaleza, Mphongo and Kalowa in Mphongo and Kaphuta zones received less than the base rate amount and that, in total, the deficit for the four schools amounts to K846, 700.00.
"As CSEC and Mziden, we thought of conducting the survey following reports of mismanagement of the school funds.
"We have found out gaps in transparency and accountability where, for example, school management committees are not involved in the school improvement plan and, as a result, the implementation is compromised on the ground," Amadu said.
He said the report shows that head teachers manipulate every role of the school governance structures such as in the planning and implementation of the whole process.
However, Mzimba South District Education Manager, Fanwell Chiwowa blamed the criteria for selecting school management committee members. He said most of them cannot read and write hence fail to follow issues.
"Literacy levels remain the challenge affecting the implementation of the grant because some members cannot participate in the formulation of the school improvement plan; hence they just point out at mistakes," Chiwowa said.
He said the shortfall in the base-rate is as a result of the delay of funding from the treasury and depends on how government raises its funds.
"We are forced to disburse the funds to the schools in tranches to make sure each school gets at least a certain amount depending on the amount of money we have received from the Treasury," Chiwowa said.
He further quashed the survey saying it does not give a true reflection of what is on the ground.