The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) Tanzania: Report Reveals Loss of Sh150 Billion School Funds Send to a Friend Over Sh150 billion in primary schools development funding across the country was misused or misappropriated in 2008 alone, it has been revealed.The funds included Sh71.2 billion budgeted for in the 2007/8 financial year, but which never reached the intended beneficiaries, according to an official report.The Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (Pets) shows that up to Sh47 billion is being pocketed every year in suspect payments to ghost workers and absentee teachers in the education sector. The report, considered the most comprehensive education sector tracking survey commissioned to date, was handed over to the government last April. The Citizen has obtained a copy of the report whose findings give interesting insights into how poorly managed public financing systems contribute to lowering education standards in the country. The government commissioned the survey for primary and secondary education in Tanzania Mainland to establish whether the expansion of education infrastructure and enrolment has been matched with a proportional increase in resource allocation. It further wanted to ascertain that the resources have reached service delivery providers, particularly schools, and to what extent expansion plans have been implemented without sacrificing the quality of education as measured by students' performance. The Education and Vocational Training, Finance and Economic Affairs, the Prime Minister's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) and Community Development, Gender and Children ministries and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) took part in the exercise. Representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) and donors also participated. According to the findings, while the government has raised the education budget over the years from Sh701.1 billion in 2005/6 to Sh1.43 trillion in 2008/9 and Sh2.045 trillion in 2010/11, resources for primary education have been falling. The allocation was 55.8 per cent five years ago, but fell to 46.6 per cent in 2008. Money used for the construction of classrooms, teachers' houses, toilets and other infrastructure has also been dwindling steadily. While allocations averaged Sh109 billion per year during the first phase of the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) from 2002-2006, it is down to Sh14 billion during the second phase of PEDP running from 2007-2011. The consequences are immediate and far-reaching. According to statistics, whereas 10,771 classrooms were built seven years ago, just 1,263 were constructed in 2008. This is despite the fact that the classroom-pupil ration at 1:78 for the same year is twice the national target of 1:40. A local public advocacy organisation, Uwazi, warns that this trend is likely to dash hopes for quality education. "For each additional shilling, a proportionate or higher share would need to be allocated to primary education to build a strong foundation," says Uwazi in a review of the Pets. Ironically, it argued, despite the rising allocations, the primary school leaving exam pass rate fell to less than 50 per cent last year. The same could be said of the secondary school pass rate for the same year that reached an all-time low of 15 per cent. Pilfering of education resources, misallocations and late deliveries as well as under-utilisation and embezzlement of funds are some of the major glaring shortcomings highlighted by the Pets study. The survey established, for example, that while Sh544.2 billion was allocated to councils in capital and recurrent grants for education during the fiscal year 2008, the actual amount reported to have been received was Sh473 billion, living a gaping hole of Sh71.2 billion. But even more worrying is the fact that a significant sum of the money that finally reached local councils was either diverted or arrived too late and was thus returned to the Treasury almost immediately. For example, the Pets review established that 66 of the 131 authorities that were studied diverted roughly Sh28.9 billion of education grants to other activities in the 2007/8 financial year. Together with Sh11.8 billion that was unspent, it means that a total of Sh40.7 billion never reached the sector as approved by Parliament. The report noted that capitation grant leakages alone amounted to Sh6.2 billion. A common feature for both primary and secondary schools in the study was that those in cities and other urban areas enjoyed better infrastructure, received a bigger share of education funds and were well staffed with qualified teachers. According to Pets, there were cases where schools in urban areas spent funds meant to pay teachers in rural schools. Schools in Dar es Salaam spent an average of Sh58,176 per pupil compared to Sh59,870 in other urban centres, while rural ones spent Sh49,394. The pupil-teacher ratios were 40, 44 and 62, while school pass rates were 74, 67 and 53, respectively. In 2008, the government allocated 1,271 new teachers to schools in rural areas. Only 35 per cent (or 444) of these reported to their stations. But while Dar es Salaam was allocated 182 teachers, it hired 441 teachers and more resources than initially planned went into pay these additional teachers. "This suggests that the key to achieving equality in resources between rural an urban areas lies in addressing reasons why councils cannot retain teachers. More money in budget allocation alone does not change inequality. Specific measures like incentive schemes for teachers serving rural and remote councils may go a long way in correcting this situation," says Uwazi. Other than shortages, teacher absenteeism is a chronic hindrance. Teacher absence was recorded in 56 per cent of the schools in the sample, and in some schools as many as 70 per cent of the teachers were not present when the data was collected. Remarkably, the reason for absence of many teachers was unknown to the school administrations. The incidence of teacher absence is highest in rural schools and most of the teachers who were absent (89 per cent) were teachers on government payroll. Data discrepancies are common, with lack of consolidated information on funds transfer and expenditure. It was not surprising to find that records for the grant system despite the fact that the programme has run since 2002. The Pets found that 41 per cent of schools reported amounts received of capitation grant that were very different (less) compared to what councils said they had disbursed.