PRINCIPALS ON THE SPOT

Magoha's shocker to principals as EACC, DPP to probe schools' cash

There is concern that principals wield much power, but there are far too few checks and balances.

In Summary

• The proposals recommend institutions with questionable quality assurance reports, and complaints by stakeholders be investigated.  

• Investigated case files will then be forwarded to the Office of the DPP to determine whether he will open a criminal file on the matter.

Education CS Prof George Magoha
THIS IS THE POINT: Education CS Prof George Magoha
Image: FILE

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha now wants the EACC and DPP to be involved in investigating cash use in schools. 

In new plicy proposals, Magoha wants the ministry's Directorate of School Audits and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to work together to unearth any shoddy dealings by principals. 

Audited institutions that exhibit adverse quality reports will then be subjected to investigations by the EACC.

Investigated case files will then be forwarded to the Office of the DPP to determine whether he will open criminal files on them.

The CS also wants the ministry to conduct quality assurance on schools every three years.

The proposals are contained in a 51-page National Education Quality Assurance and Standards Framework for Basic Education Institutions that seeks to revamp the quality assurance in schools.

The framework comes four months after the CS made major changes in the Quality Assurance Directorate blaming officers for sleeping on their job.

The then Director of Quality Assurance Pius Mutisya was replaced with Mary Gaturu in an acting capacity.

The proposals are CS Magoha's latest move to crack the whip on rogue school heads and could complicate things for principals found with questionable financial records.

It is the second of the kind in less than a month after he ordered expenditure audits of the 28,000 public schools on fees paid by parents and the annual subsidy by the state.

“Investigation assessment is prompted by adverse reports, complaints from stakeholders and incidences within the school,” the framework reads.

Although the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association ties quality problems to poor funding, the CS says principals have escalated the situation with poor spending and misplaced priorities.

For example, the CS questions how some school heads use up to Sh3 million to construct one classroom.

The spotlight now shifts to principals and their management style with concerns that some wield much power, but there are far too few checks and balances.

Lenient action

Previous complaints of mismanagement in schools have often ended with principals interdicted, demoted and in worst cases fired but spared criminal charges.

Last year, a delocalisation policy adopted by the Teachers Service Commission led to the transfer of at least 7,000 school heads from stations they had served for over seven years. 

The process unearthed possible misappropriation of funds.

Allegations had been raised against St Mary’s Egoji Girls, Nyamira Girls and Kapsabet Girls.

It prompted TSC to call on the Education ministry to investigate headteachers whose institutions had audit queries.

Nothing substantive is yet to come out of the investigations.

A report by the Auditor General in April found that a former principal of Pangani Girls High School and members of the board of management purchased a faulty generator for Sh2 million.

The Parliament's Public Accounts Committee yesterday called on the EACC to open investigations into the matter.

The committee also asked the ministry to ensure rent arrears amounting to Sh4.1 million are recovered from teachers at Nairobi School, Mang’u High, Jamhuri High, Alliance Boys, Dagoretti High and Kenya High.

“Failure to pay rent in time by teachers and other staff who are paid house allowance amounts to improper enrichment contrary to the provisions of the Public Officer Ethics Act,” the committee said.

Alliance High School is in trouble over Sh7.3 million paid to two consultancy firms owned by former students for the construction of student’s main hostel, wall and gate.

Secondary schools still grapple with financial crises occasioned by debts owed to various suppliers due to challenges in state funding. 

(edited by O. Owino)