Abuse of fees, levies cited
Auditors deployed countrywide
Tafadzwa Ndlovu Herald Reporter
Government has deployed hundreds of auditors to almost all schools countrywide amid reports that headmasters and School Development Committees have embezzled millions of dollars meant for fees and levies.
The audits, which started 10 days ago, will cover over 80 percent of the 8 179 schools in the country, of which 5 805 are primary schools, while 2 374 are secondary schools.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora announced the audits at the official handover of refurbished classroom blocks by the Zimbabwe National Army at Harare High School last Friday.
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He said most headmasters and SDCs had appointed themselves as procurement officers for the schools with the aim of abusing funds.
Minister Dokora said parents were willing to cooperate with schools in paying fees and levies, but headmasters and SDCs were not transparent.
“We want that 82 percent of the schools should be audited this year so that we enhance the levy collection process because we must account for what we get from the parents even if it is $1,” he said.
“When there is transparency, parents are quick to note that there is and they will cooperate. So, we have deployed hundreds of our auditors across the country.
“They (auditors) have been in the field for more than 10 days already, but most of the schools were not aware of the audits.”
Minister Dokora said headmasters and SDCs abusing funds were tarnishing the image of the education sector.
“It is very rare that I get invited to witness a fine piece of work like what has been demonstrated here at Harare High School where there is a drive for development.
“Where we go very often there would have been a problem where you are called for a meeting on allegations of misuse of school funds either by the headmaster who would have appointed himself as the procurement chairperson and the overall approval authority for the school or the SDC chairperson and his committee.”
Minister Dokora said there was need for proper accounting of money that would have been used to ensure that no one abuses fees. The audits are expected to expose the massive abuse of the funds, leading to the prosecution
of those who will be found on the wrong side of the law.
Most school heads and SDCs have been discovered not to follow normal procedures when buying certain products.
Some of them loot funds by generating invoices with inflated prices of goods and learning materials they buy, while in some cases the school administrators use fake quotations.
Others work jointly with suppliers who pay them the difference after schools make their payments and some of the companies that schools purport to be dealing with are briefcase firms.
The National Association of Primary School Heads once called for school heads to undergo financial management courses to improve their capacity to handle school funds.
This was envisaged to curb the increasing cases of abuse of funds at most schools.
At Harare High School, Minister Dokora applauded the efforts by ZNA to create a conducive environment for learners, saying the refurbishment of the school blocks will go a long way in improving the education sector.
Under its community service programme, 30 ZNA artisans refurbished buildings at the school, including repairing of collapsed ceilings, flooring classrooms and attended to boreholes, all within five months.
Speaking at the same occasion, ZNA Chief of Staff Major General Sibusiso Moyo said it was the duty of the army to bring national security and develop the community.
“Education is important and our children are the future, so we should safeguard it,” he said. “The army is involved in various areas.
“When this school approached us we saw it fit to help them with our artisans for free. They just supplied us with the equipment needed and the work was done within a short space of time.”
Harare High School headmistress Mrs Priscilla Satande thanked the ZNA for the assistance.