500 ghost schools in govt database
By Yasiin Mugerwa
Posted Tuesday, June 14 2011 at 00:00
Officials in the Ministry of Education will have to explain how 500 non-existent schools were planted in the institution’s data base, a finding unearthed by the Auditor General. The ghost primary schools, whose specific details have been withheld to avoid jeopardizing ongoing investigations, were discovered by AG John Muwanga in March this year.
The “inconsistency” in the data base was discovered as the AG reviewed expenditure details worth Shs800 million meant for the procurement of printing services for the teaching and learning materials meant for P.4 and P.5 under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme.
Mr Muwanga wants MPs to investigate the possibility that officials in the ministry inflated the number of schools to benefit from the project—in the process spending Shs67.6 million on phantom textbooks.
Case of books
“By June 23 2010, all goods had reportedly been delivered to the National Curriculum Development Centre. However, evidence of receipt of the materials by the beneficiary schools had not been availed for audit verification by the time of writing this report in March 2011.”
Even though the AG’s investigations found 12,313 schools in the ministry’s database, officials reportedly added extra non-existent 500 schools—and later raised the number of benefiting schools to 17,000.
According to the Auditor General, an addendum that substantially altered the requisition details was advertised on October 16, 2009. However, the bid submission date remained October 26, 2009 —implying that the law on bidding that requires that the adverts run for at least 26 working days—was not adhered to.
“There were several inconsistencies noted in the dates of several correspondences on procurement file,” Mr Muwanga said. “Although the procurement unit requested for the approval of the evaluation committee on December 4, 2009, the same unit claimed to have written to the approved members on November 5, 2009, with the expected reporting date of November 11, 2009.”
But in a written response, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Xavier Lubanga, stated that the requisition by the user (NCDC) was slightly more than the database numbers to cater for any loses in the transit and handling at school level. However, without evidence to corroborate the schools numbers, Mr Muwanga rejected the explanation and demanded that MPs investigate the matter.
The AG also noted that although M/s New Vision and M/s Picfare had made partial deliveries by February 10, 2010, this was before the firms had entered into contract with the ministry, which was done on February 22, 2010.
The revelation comes after Daily Monitor last year reported that government was paying more than Shs20b annually for quack teachers in salaries. Ministry officials are thought to be part of racket where appointment letters are shared among several teachers.