The Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has repeated its calls to the authorities to bring to book culprits suspected of abusing school funds in primary and secondary schools across the country.
The organisation is assuring the authorities that it will not stop siding with the voiceless citizens in ensuring that those involved in the malpractice are arrested and prosecuted in a court of law to set a lesson to the would be offenders saying the malpractice is leaving schools poor and poorer.
In view of this, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has issued a strong warning to headteachers and management committees to stop collection of development fund in both primary and secondary schools.
The Minister responsible, Bright Msaka, was quoted in the press that government and development partners do provide funds to schools but the money is entering into people’s pockets.
CSEC’s Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Peter Mike Kayenda, expressed concern over no developments in schools beside the schools receiving funds for the implementation of small projects.
Kayenda said it is the wish of government and development partners to see to it that every Kwacha and Tambala meant for schools’ development is being utilised to the maximum benefit of the learners.
He said it is sad to learn that some clever headteachers are conniving with management committees to abuse the funds meant for their school’s developments saying this malpractice is derailing all efforts of ensuring that teaching and learning is efficient and effective in the mind of learners.
However, even though the Minister of Education ordered a stop in Development Fund collections, some schools have defied this directive and are still sending back learners whose parents have failed to pay development fund.
At one of the previous District executive council committee meeting in Dowa, the former Director of Primary Education (DOPE), Joseph Chafukila advised headteachers and management committees in the district to punish parents who fail to pay development fund for their children other than learners saying learners are being denied access to education when education is free for all.
But media investigations on the other side have revealed that most of the teachers are not aware that in addition to School Improvement Grant (SIG), government and development partners have introduced another fund – Teaching and learning materials fund – to carter for teaching and learning resources only.
Some headteachers and management committees are doing everything possible to give the teachers blind eyes over the existence of this fund making them buying exercise books and pens for school records while the fund is there for the same purpose.
CSEC’s Executive Director, Benedicto Kondowe is on record having accused the authorities of choosing to remain silent while funds are being abused in schools.
Kondowe argued that the fact that the authorities are failing to act swiftly in arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators of school fund abuses means that government is not serious in its fight to end corruption in schools.
From 2006, headteachers and management committees have been abusing the school funds which were coming as Direct Support to Schools (DSS) but now called School Improvement Grant (SIG) and no culprit has been booked to this day.