By Patience Nyangove
THE Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has concluded a forensic audit report aimed at exposing ghost teachers on its payroll, who have been paid millions of dollars in monthly salaries, Education, Arts and Culture, Permanent Secretary, Sanet Steenkamp, has revealed.
The education ministry launched a forensic audit last year, after it stumbled on information that several Kunene taxi drivers were part of a well-organised, illicit syndicate that had been fleecing government. Confidente is informed that some of the ghost teachers were being paid an average salary of N$15 000 a month.
So desperate had the situation become, that the education ministry requested assistance from the Ministry of Finance, to embark on a countrywide manual payroll audit and verification exercise at all public schools, to establish the extent of the scam.
The education ministry forks out N$9.6 billion annually for teachers’ salaries.
Steenkamp told Confidente that the ministry was currently busy analysing the submitted regional forensic audit reports.
“The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture conducted the verification of the payroll (payroll audit) in 2016. The payroll verification was done by the respective regional directorates of education, arts and culture in November 2016. It was conducted by a team led by an inspector of education and included human resource practitioners and accountants,” Steenkamp said.
“The regional reports (of the payroll verification exercise) are being submitted to the head office. So far, most regions have submitted the reports and other regions are expected to submit their reports by the end of this week.
“In the meantime, the ministry has begun analysing the submitted reports, region by region. Once the summarising and analysis process of the reports has been completed, the ministry will produce a consolidated report on the findings, to inform the ministry and stakeholders accordingly.”
Steenkamp added that the payroll audit was one of the steps it has taken to address challenges facing the ministry.
“Therefore, the payroll audit is the step that the ministry has taken to address the issue of ghost teachers. The consolidated report on the findings will certainly guide and provide recommendations on the way forward.”
A 2015 assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) revealed that the education ministry was paying full salaries to about 6 000 ghost teachers.
After the regrading exercise, which was carried out by the public service, a teacher with a degree earns about N$17 000 a month – a rate which meant that government could be losing more than N$100 million every month, through ghost teacher salaries.
The ministry said last year that the move to embark on a payroll audit was a strategic executive decision, introduced in the country’s 14 education regional directorates, to understand the magnitude of over-expenditure, in terms of salaries.
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