Ghost-Teachers And Fake Wages Ruin Africa’s Education, Says Report

By Ray Mwareya:

Nigeria had about 8,000 allegations of ghost teachers collecting salaries, or fake schools drawing funds from state coffers in the first half of 2016 alone. In South Africa, some volunteer-teachers’ wages are boosted by non-existent students. This is the sobering discovery by UNESCO-supported 2017 Global Education Monitoring report.

“Education is a shared responsibility,” cautions UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova. “Accountability is the backbone to achieve a high-quality education.”

Manos Antoninis, director of the Global Education Monitoring Report (an annual publication facilitated and supported by UNESCO), says non-existent schools that siphon money from government budgets are a disturbing topic in Africa. Education corruption on the continent occurs in all aspects – from finance, service procurement to accreditation, teachers management, exams, scholarships and textbooks distribution.

Many private schools in sub-Saharan Africa are unlawful

For example, says the authors of the report, some influential private chain schools that are expanding rapidly in Africa are “problematic.” One such cited is Bridges International Academies of Kenya, a wealthy conglomerate that runs more than 500 schools in 5 countries.

“Inspections in Kenya, Uganda reported unqualified teachers, inadequate infrastructure, and unauthorized curriculums,” says the report. Courts have rightly upheld governments’ decisions to shut down some powerful for-profit schools in Kenya the authors believe.

Data collection can reverse Africa´s education corruption

The cancer of education fraud extends even to charities. Collecting finance data on education can help states hold a reverse mirror on how non-profit agencies use education cash.

A vivid example was given of South Africa, a country with one Africa´s of largest public education budget (at $US155 Million according to its finance ministry). South Africa´s Kha RI Gude (Let Us Learn) literacy program contracts with a private company for financial accounting and reporting as well as updating of students’ progress databases. “Audits in 2016 found out that volunteer teachers have allegedly been paid stipend for more students than indicated in their claims.”

Absent school information

While developed countries like Australia have school test results posted publicly online, in Tanzania it was found that online report cards are rarely accessed mainly due to the limited internet availability.

“In Kenya, 72% of parents did not know how to use literacy and numeracy information.”

Resisting inspections

Across Africa, it was found that for various reasons some teachers and trade union directly oppose external inspections to monitor classroom competence. South Africa was singled out because of its fractious history.

“In South Africa, supervisors resist (education) inspection reforms, partly from memories of apartheid (colonialism).”
In Angola, a damning assessment says, in 2015 only 45% of education inspectors had received any pieces of training when reforms began in 2016.

Vanishing teachers

Because corruption ensures accountability and saves public cash, teachers themselves must show up in class daily. According to the report, in Senegal, (one of Africa´s brightest economies) between 2007 to 2014, on average, students received 108 of 188 official annual school days.

“Most reasons for absenteeism were beyond teacher control.” Ensuring that education attendance is adhered to is critical, say the authors, because “only 40% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have at least nine years of compulsory education.”

South Sudan has Africa´s lowest education finance score

In conclusion, it was found out that sub-Saharan Africa has the world´s biggest number of out-of-school children although the continent received 26% of all global education aid finance in 2015.

In Africa, South Sudan sits poorly. Against a global median education expenditure rate of 4.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), South Sudan only spends about 1.5% of its budget resources on education. Its catastrophic civil war could be a factor. As the report notes – “challenging situations like conflict settings makes it difficult to track education expenditure.”

Ray Mwareya is Africa Humanitarian Correspondent for the Global South Development Magazine and 2016 Winner of the UN Correspondents Association Media Prize.

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