Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
GOVERNMENT is paying teachers in Trust and private schools about $20 million annually when those institutions are supposed to meet their staff costs.This was revealed by Auditor-General Ms Mildred Chiri in her 2015 Civil Service Audit presented to Parliament last week. She stressed that Government must stop using taxpayers’ money to subsidise private institutions. Government, Ms Chiri said, was paying 3 000 teachers in private and Trust schools.
Ms Chiri also indicated that there was over-staffing of teachers in schools by 5 500. These are mainly relief and student teachers. “The audit established that a total of 2 888 teachers were being paid by Government while working at Trust and private schools, drawing a salary of $1 650 048 per month, which translates to $19 800 576 per annum,” said Ms Chiri.
“Trust schools levy relatively higher tuition fees than Government and mission schools and are therefore capable of paying salaries of teachers currently employed by Government.”
Masvingo Province has the highest number of Government-funded teachers (680) at private primary schools. Manicaland comes second with 419 teachers. Matabeleland North Province has the least number of Government-funded teachers at private primary schools with 32.
Manicaland has the highest number of Government-funded teachers at private secondary schools with 279 followed by Masvingo which has 229. Mashonaland West Province has the least number of Government-funded teachers at private secondary schools, with six followed by Matabeleland North with 14.
Mrs Chiri recommended that Government should stop paying the salaries. “Since Government is spending $19 800 576 per annum in payment of salaries to Trust Schools, Government should forthwith cease payment of salaries to these teachers because it is an unfair charge to public funds to subsidise a private entity.
“Notwithstanding the withdrawal of Government assistance in the payment of salaries of teachers in private schools, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should intensify and strengthen the supervision of Trust and Private Schools in line with the provisions of the Education Act (Chapter 25:04),” she said.
The audit also revealed that there was overstaffing of teachers in Government primary and secondary schools. Of the 127 091 teachers found at schools during a head count, 12 554 were students teachers while 12 371 were relief tutors.
“Total pupil enrolment for the same period stood at 3 696 779 for both primary and secondary schools. Using a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:40 for primary schools, the 2 838 235 pupils at primary schools required 70 956 teachers. “Using a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:33 for secondary schools, the 858 544 pupils at secondary schools required 26 017 teachers.
“With the above ratios, the total number of teachers required should stand at 96 973 excluding student teachers and relief teachers totaling 24 925. The overall over-staffing situation at the time of the audit for the teachers was 5 588,” said Mrs Chiri.
She said Government was paying about $33, 5 million annually due to overstaffing. She said the situation was as a result of the failure by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to put mechanisms in place to reduce the wage bill. The report recommended that the Ministry must address the overstaffing issue.
It also suggested that recruitment of temporary and relief teachers be stopped as well until the excess staff was obsorbed. The AG said the Ministry’s establishment must not exceed 102 600 teachers at any given time to avoid excess expenditure to the fiscus. She said the Ministry was expected to adhere to the stipulated teacher-pupil ratios of 1:40 and 1:33 in both primary and secondary schools, respectively.
The audit also established that there were 170 primary schools with deputy headmasters despite having less than 281 pupils. This contravenes the Ministry’s Circular 15 of 2006. The deputy headmasters were drawing about $1, 2 million annually. There were also 170 secondary schools with less than 600 pupils but with deputy headmasters.
The deputy headmasters were also drawing about $1, 2 million a year. “The commission established that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education deployed two heads per school at 32 schools and two deputy heads per school at 63 schools drawing about $1, 3 million per annum,” said Mrs Chiri.
The report also revealed that there was over-staffing of more than 700 teachers in both primary and secondary schools where there were enrolments of less than 100 pupils per school.
The over-staffing cost Government about $4, 2 million annually.