A school in the East is relying on handouts to buy chalk and other requirements because a dodgy bank account was created by some government officials to move funds meant for the school for personal use, MakanDay has established.
Madzi-A-Tuwa Day Secondary School in Chipangali district in Eastern Province, with over 300 pupils has gone for over four years without receiving grants from government through its official account.
In Zambia, grants allocated to secondary schools, flow directly from the Ministry of Finance to individual school accounts.
Former Chipangali Ward Councilor, Kennedy Shumba has told MakanDay that the account was created by some senior government officials in the Ministry of Education at provincial and district levels.
Mr Shumba who could not reveal the names said another officer from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is also involved in the scam.
The ACC was contacted this week by MakanDay but has so far not responded to requests for comment.
But the Provincial Education Officer (PEO) Brainly Malambo, who was asked if he is aware of the involvement of some of his officers in the scam told MakanDay that he is still new in the office.
"Frankly speaking I’m only less than a month as PEO there but there is a report which I saw in the office from the PS to do with one school but I am not sure if it is the same school you are talking about or not...,” he said.
Chipangali District Education Board Secretary (DEBS), Felistus Nkoloma confirmed that the school has indeed not been receiving the grants for quite some time now.
She said the matter was reported to the Ministry of Finance, through the PEO's office to rectify the problem.
Although Ms Nkoloma confirmed that the school has not been receiving funds, she however expressed ignorance about the existence of a suspicious account.
“What I am not aware is the opening of a different account where that money goes, but it is true … Madzi-A-Tuwa Secondary School is supposed to receive grants directly from Ministry of Finance in Lusaka,” she said.
But Mr Shumba, who is also board member of the school said he even wrote to the ACC to help verify the existence of the two accounts and establish how transactions have been done on the suspicious account.
Information obtained by MakanDay shows that the dodgy bank account number 030110104468014 was opened through Investrust Bank, Chipata branch.
The official bank account for the school is 030110327217012.
Mr Shumba also disclosed that Tikondane Community School in Chipangali has also not been receiving money from government since 2017.
He said for the past five years money released by the Ministry of Finance has ended up in the private account opened in the school’s name.
The school administration needs the money to complete a one by two classroom block which is used as a classroom for the spillover pupils. The only complete building at the school is a one by three classroom block which is not enough for all the pupils.
He further claimed, without providing proof, that several other schools in the province are experiencing the same problem.
“There are other schools in Chipata and Kasenengwa districts which are experiencing the same challenge,” said Mr Shumba.
According to Madzi-A-Tuwa School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairperson, Nathan Nyirenda, the school was dependent on well-wishers to run its affairs.
“This school has a lot of problems, imagine that we are the ones that used to buy chalk for the school and sponsor some of the activities at the school when others are just sitting in their officers sharing the money for the school,” lamented Mr Nyirenda.
He feared that although the school received its first grant in April this, it may not recover the money it has lost over the past six years.
Mr Nyirenda wondered why the money was deposited in the official school account in April when other schools received their grants for the first quarter in January 2022.
“We were told that your money was sitting in the wrong account and we were promised to be given all the arrears in full, but we are surprised that the money which was deposited in the original school account is only about K32,000 for the first quarter of 2022. Now, where is the other money? Who has been withdrawing money from the wrong account so that they give our school all the money”, he asked?
Mr Nyirenda further complained that senior officers at the Ministry of Education in the province have not been helpful.
“We will not rest on this matter, until our school gets the money it has not been receiving for over four years,” he said.
MakanDay reached out to some teachers at the school who explained that they have been contributing money to carry out school activities and to attend meetings.
“When a teacher or the headteacher wants to attend a meeting, we are asked to contribute from our pockets. Even with other school activities, teachers are subjected to contribute, just to make sure that the school continues to run, with the hope that they will be refunded when the money is given to the school,” explained one of the teachers.