Abigail Mawonde Herald Reporter
A BID by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to force schools to meet the costs of the ongoing schools audit hit a snag after senior civil servants at district and provincial levels resisted the move.
The ministry instituted the auditing of all schools early last month following an outcry by stakeholders in the education sector over abuse of funds by authorities.
The Herald is reliably informed that Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango distributed letters to all provinces and schools informing school authorities about the audits.
Attached to the letters was a schedule showing how much each school was supposed to pay the auditors according to its enrolment and status.
“A school with an enrolment of 300 was supposed to pay $300, while a school with 500 pupils was supposed to pay $500.
“Trust (elite) schools were supposed to pay as much as $2 500,” said the source.
This raised eyebrows and senior provincial and district education officers took the ministry to task at a workshop held in Nyanga recently.
“As district education officers sought clarity over the matter during the workshop, it now remains a mystery as to the origins of the schedule as the ministry professed ignorance over its existence, raising questions as to who had generated it,” said the source.
The source said the audit was now being funded by the Better Schools Programme.
It has also emerged that the auditors, who had expected hefty incentives by way of allowances, are now highly demoralised.
“The auditors had anticipated hefty payments through allowances, but are now only getting $10 per day with accommodation provided,” said the source.
Responding to questions asked by National Assembly member for Zaka North Mr Robson Mavenyengwa pertaining to the same issue during Parliament’s sitting on Wednesday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora was evasive.
“Thank you Mr Speaker Sir for allowing me to answer this pertinent question from the Honourable Member regarding the auditors who are doing a splendid job within our schools in taking care of public funds,” he said.
“The Honourable Member is saying there is a rumour that these auditors are paid monies by the school authorities.
“This is the first time I am hearing about this and I will kindly ask him to give us details of such an incident so that as a ministry we can make a follow-up.
“As far as we are concerned, our auditors are working with provincial officials and in that way they will be sharing information with Provincial Education Directors.
“Therefore, it is up to the Provincial Education Director to provide guidance. So, if there is anything amiss which he is talking about, may the Honourable Member please give us details of such incidents so that we can make follow-ups.”
He added: “Our schools have different funds which include Better Schools Programme which will be targeted at certain aspects of education.
“It is from that fund that the auditors derive their support.
“Therefore, schools do not pay these auditors any funds because they are paid through the Better Schools Programme.”