The Zambia National Education Coalition is sad to learn that over K19.5 million meant for the provision of quality education for our children was mismanaged by the Ministry of General Education (MoGE). This explains the current weak state of public financial controls in our government as a whole and in the Ministry of General Education in particular. At a time when the share of the Ministry of General Education budget is experiencing a drastic reduction, it is inconceivable that the Ministry can be associated with the mismanagement of so much money. It is common knowledge that the education sector is currently facing serious problems including the poor supply of key education inputs such as teaching and learning materials, desks, teachers, classroom infrastructure, teachers’ houses, laboratories, water sanitation facilities and equipment. The situation is even worse for our children in community schools, who rely on untrained teachers that are working under very difficult conditions. As a result, we are experiencing an increase in the number of out of school children resulting from the failure by our poor parents to bridge the funding gaps perpetrated by a few selfish individuals.
We therefore agree with the statement by the Acting Minister of General Education, Hon. Vincent Mwale, who in his address to Parliament on 10th October 2018 promised the nation that the K19.5 million will be recovered from the salaries and benefits of the 80 members of staff involved. Furthermore, we demand that the law should be applied fairly to the erring officers to ensure that they receive the due punishment in order to deter prospective offenders.
In order to avoid the recurrence of such huge financial losses, we recommend that government decentralizes the Ministry of General Education’s budget management to the district level. We are aware that the Ministry of General Education is among the few ministries whose funds are still being administered from the Headquarters in Lusaka. We therefore call upon government to decentralize the management of funds as the centralized system is causing a lot of inefficiencies in the management of finances. The centralization of funds has also resulted in late disbursements to Provincial and District offices thereby affecting the delivery of quality education.
Finally, we demand to know what happened to the members of staff who were suspended in 2017 after being implicated in the Auditor General’s Report of 2016.