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Kailahun Stinks of Corruption

By Abu Bakarr Tarawally –from Kailahun

Normalcy has returned to Kailahun, the east forest region of Sierra Leone hosting Gbondu village in the border end to neighboring Guinea, which first recorded a confirmed case of the Ebola viral disease.

Over 11,000 persons succumbed to the virus that almost crippled the healthcare and economic systems of the three West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

For the second time after the long civil war that started in Bomaru, in the Kailahun district, the Ebola phenomena descended on the capital of Freetown through regional links. Prior to the outbreak, Kailahun was popular for its bad roads and poor networks making it hard to reach areas in terms of communication and traveling. The roads are being constructed but there still remains some perennial issues.

Abu Bakarr Tarawally interviewing Aloysius M. Gassimu D.D Kailahun Min of Education Science and Technology

Abu Bakarr Tarawally interviewing Aloysius M. Gassimu D.D Kailahun Min of Education Science and Technology

The return to normalcy has attracted a lot of attention, especially from charitable organizations who saw the need to give major boosts to education by supporting programmes in education on Radios.

Allegations of corruption continues to take the centre stage and much has not been accounted for regarding the implementation of funds meant to support the much talked about education sector in that part of the country.

Speaking to the Deputy District Education Officer, Mr. Aloysius Gassimu Moigoa regarding the allegations, which he distanced himself from. He explained that as a senior officer he has no dealings with project implementation. “I have my staffs who undertake projects implementations, after the whole exercise they put together activity report for update for our support partners”.

Asked who the signatories are to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology’s Bank account “My very self and Mr. Foday Conteh, the Inspector of schools”, Mr. Gassimu replied.

About the withdrawal of Forty One Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred Leones (Le, 41887, 400) from the Project account at the First International Bank, Account Number: 13.101-51418-01 of the District Education Office in Kailahun. The Charity Organization, “Save the Children International has provided support the Education in Emergency situation. Mr. Gassimu referred this reporter to the Finance Officer who had earlier told informed Mr. Gassimu the Principal Signatory to the District Education Office Account in Kailahun about the financial fraud.

The European Union had doled out Sixty Million Leones to purchase six motor bikes and other items. Only four bikes have been purchased and what happened to the remaining amount from of the Sixty Million Leones provided by the European Union remains unexplained. Mr. Gassimu said the Kailahun District Council did the procurement and he was not fully aware as to how they ended up presenting only four bikes instead of the six bikes stated in the contract: “I did not receive the bikes, it was Kabba the District Assistant Director of Education who signed for them and I think he needed to use them when he was transferred newly to Kailahun”, he said. “I cautioned him that unless a delivery note is handed to the ministry from the council, I was not going to receive those bikes”, Mr. Gassimu iterated.

When did the Council takes over procurements of education materials and required equipment was also asked, but Mr. Gassimu explained that, the Council had passed a resolution that all procurements for the District Government sector devolved offices to the Council have to go through to go Sole Sourcing to ensure that the Local Crowned Agent provides quality and approved materials needed.

To what extent the Local Crowned Agent(s) is transparent is the million dollar question. Relating to the bikes, XL Grand Model Bikes or a substitute model to the XL was preferably prescribed for the nature of moribund roads in Kailahun, however, IT was an inferior Victor brand bikes that were purchased.

Kailahun, which stood on clay legs in terms of development –being the first district the virus struck, was positioned to receive transistor radios and learning materials worth millions of Leones. The project was delayed due to late funding by Save the Children International, according to Mr. Gassimu; and when it was allegedly implemented, the funding NGO still awaits its activities report for profile update which the ministry of education has not provided as yet.

The Education in Emergency (EiE) project targeted 2,500 children beneficiaries in Kailahun. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Save the Children UK signed with the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, 500 households were targeted with radios and education materials. Each household has an average family seize of seven, with five children. Total indirect population beneficiaries computing 215,125 community members in Kailahun benefitted through radio broadcast. The contrast to the expectation of the partners, according to the terms of reference, is that the project was not thoroughly implemented. 24 teachers were to receive incentives for monitoring anchored programs and coordinate text messages or callers’ in-phone in programs asking questions in various subject matters taught on air.

A handful of teachers say they did not receive the prescribed incentives but this question is not again for Mr. Gassimu since he lacks knowledge of the entire implementation of the project. His guess was that, the project was successful.

The district in the past has been consistent in recording poor external public exams grades and as a result, producing less number of students meeting university requirements. The ratio to this stands below 10% percent over a period of ten years.

Education occupies the prime of all downtrends with a damning status report on the schools operating system. The scandal cuts across the allegations of not having proper schools management records system, scores of ghost teachers, abuse of office and mismanagement of funds including an existing voucher fraud roping the reputation of the District Education office, which stood in the middle of doing nothing over the time to rescue the falling standards.

According to reports, 113 schools exist in the payroll vouchers, scooping paltry sum from the national revenue purse. Vouchers analysis indicate that twenty-eight (28) teachers in various primary schools and eleven in Secondary Schools computing a total of thirty-nine, (39) are lining a total sum of nineteen million, six hundred and sixty-five thousand and one hundred Leones (Le, 19,665,100) from the payroll vouchers –the period covering October, 2014 to February 2015.

The thirty-nine according to the vouchers analysis outcome were recommended for deletion from the payroll voucher. Report says 39 names were not rendering teaching services in the schools vouchers containing their names.

Report further indicates that fifty-two (52) ghost teachers exist in the payroll vouchers. These individuals have pin-code numbers with Serial Identifications (SID) numbers making them eligible to earn salaries they are not working for.

I put Mr. Gassimu again on task to explain why he sits complacently to record such a high feat of miscalculations. He said dearth of professionals in the ministry under his jurisdiction is the actual thorn in the flesh and as such his administration is laced with complacency to monitor and have proper schools records management system.

He says the ministry of education is very slow when it comes to recruiting officials running the administration of the ministry and teaching staffs. As a result, he says the wrong types are left to do the jobs professionals should be doing.

This explanation goes to justify why the district education office in Kailahun has an over-aged retired Finance Officer and untrained and unqualified teachers doing the job of schools supervisors in the district.

On the supposed voucher fraud, Mr. Gassimu said a certain Mr. Campbell had messed up the schools vouchers –before Mr. Kabba, the district Assistant Director of Education arrived to assume the position in Kailahun. What I did was that, he said, I asked Mr. Kabba to help clean up the schools vouchers enmeshed in cobweb details, which he did and details of malfeasance began emerging but as it is, he said. I am awaiting the comprehensive report on the vouchers analysis outcome.

However, a cross section of some of the schools exposed in the syndicate includes the Roman Catholic Primary School for Girls in Pendembu with SID Number 430212. It has two substantive head teachers and a purported Senior Teacher salaries running in the school voucher.

The Roman Catholic Primary School in Gbalahun with SID Number: 430235, has three Head Teachers salaries running in the voucher. The Roman Catholic Primary School in Sakiema with SID Number: 43233, has one person signing for all teachers in the school voucher. The Roman Catholic Primary School in Baiwala with SID Number: 430206, has four teaching staff without a Head Teacher. The Roman Catholic Primary School of Nyadehun with SID Number: 430202, has one teacher who does everything without a Head Teacher. The Roman Catholic Primary School of Kailahun town with SID Number: 430217, has 26 teaching staff without a substantive Head Teacher. The Roman Catholic Primary School of Daru with SID Number: 430201, has 23 teaching staff without a substantive Head Teacher. The Methodist Primary School, Manowa with SID Number: 430237, has 6 teaching staff without a Senior Teacher or Deputy Head Master. The District Education Council (DEC) Primary School of Daru with SID Number: 430105, has 36 teaching staff with 4 substantive Head Teachers salaries running in the voucher. The District Education Council (DEC) Primary School of Gbalahun with SID Number: 430119, has 17 teaching staff in the October-February 2014/15 school payroll voucher. No return slips for unclaimed salaries. The Supreme Islamic Primary School in Daru with SID Number: 435803, has 19 teaching staff. In the October-February 2014/15 school payroll voucher three unsigned spaces exist with no return slips and deficit salaries. This school has one Head Teacher and two Deputy Head Teachers without a Senior Teacher. Tahir Ahmadiyya Primary School in Jawie-Daru with SID Number: 430501, has 13 teaching staff, three Head Teachers, no Deputy Head Teacher, and no Senior Teacher. It has a return slip for Pin-Code: 342864, Agnes B Ansumana in the October 2014 school payroll voucher.

DEC Primary School Segbwema with SID Number: 430106, has 22 teaching staff, one return slip for Pin-Code: 359330, Alieu Samuel, three substantive Head Teachers salaries running, two deputies and one Senior Teacher salary running.

From the cue of explanation stating understaffing, schools visit records show that, it has been long since Mr. Gassimu last visited schools in the Kailahun jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the geographical disposition of Kailahun is complex in terms of linking one school to the other and I must confess that it was an uphill task for me to assemble this report from various locations in Kailahun. Special thanks to the Okada boys who helped us tread various distances and Emanuel Cole of the Daily Express newspaper who traveled along with me. From the moribund roads of Kailahun, in the east region of Sierra Leone, I am Abu Bakarr Tarawally reporting this time the outcome of the downtrend nature of education here in Kailahun.

 

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