I AM gravely concerned about the state of school governance and management of school funds in the Port Elizabeth district.
In 2009 The Herald wrote a number of stories about corruption and fraud of millions of rand concerning Greenwood Primary School. Earlier this year The Herald wrote a comprehensive story of alleged misappropriation of funds at Morningside High School ("Hawks probe R1m 'missing' school funds", August 8).
On October 4, The Herald wrote that Kwazakhele High School was in the state of anarchy with a malfunctioning school governing body (SGB) ("Chaos at high school").
As a political activist of the '80s, I am very concerned about the high rate of the following issues in our schools:
- Abuse of power by school governing bodies, such as increasing school fees and re-registration fees without proper consultation with school stakeholders, more especially parents; employment of SGB staff and teachers; lack of accountability for school funds (audited financial statements); admission and registration criteria, etc;
- The role of education development officers, and various managers and directors. The Department of Basic Education is the custodian of basic education, but the department is failing to monitor and oversee the smooth running of the schools and SGB operation.
- Supply management or procurement of goods;
- School feeding scheme implementation;
- Lack of oversight in learning and teaching;
- The department failing to respond on time to complaints of teachers, parents and pupils;
- Corruption, fraud and bribery in the school. I am very concerned about the high rate of corruption in the selling of question papers and exchanging of marks for sex with teachers, and bribery.
There is alleged misappropriation of funds in former Model C schools and misuse of assets like school buses, sewing machines and computers. Why are the public finance management acts not implemented in our school ?
Most of our schools don't have yearly audited financial statements. Who monitors the SGB doing business, if the department doesn't monitor or fulfil a proper oversight role to the SGBs?
Why doesn't the department have an internal auditing team to assist the SGBs on financial management? An audit team could also do forensic investigations of theft, fraud, maladministration and misappropriation of school and feeding scheme funds;
- Why are teachers involved in the financial affairs of the school when their core function is to teach the pupils?
- Does the department have a turnaround plan to combat this corruption in our schools?
SGBs are mostly corrupt and malfunctioning, and cause chaos with poor leadership from principals, and lack of an oversight role by officials and politicians. Therefore it is imperative for the department to implement or revisit the original role of SGBs and the capacity of members in schools to uphold the rights of all pupils, parents and teachers to a better education and promote corporate governance in our schools.
Stop corruption and fraud now, and involve law enforcement agencies to remove this bad syndrome affecting our future leaders academy known as school. All principals must go for security clearance like municipality managers and directors-general because they are chief accounting officers.
Xolani Tengo, Nelson Mandela Bay