– As 42 schools reportedly have one teacher each
By: Jerromie S. Walters
A General Auditing Commission’s compliance audit report has unearthed that 42 (forty-two) schools in Sinoe County were identified as being understaffed during the period of the audit.
According to the GAC report, the 42 schools were observed to have only one teacher each.
Considering the fact that those schools are unstaffed, it poses serious academic threats to kids and young folks in the area, thus denying them access to education.
Following its findings, the GAC believes that failure to adequately staff academic institutions may impair the quality of education offered to students.
The Commission has recommended that the Ministry of Education establish the actual number of instructors assigned at the schools identified through physical verification, examination of employment records, and evaluation of services being performed.
Also, they want the government to ensure that all schools are adequately staffed with the requisite number of qualified instructors to improve the quality of education for students.
In a response to the Commission’s report, the Ministry of Education noted that many rural facilities are usually abandoned by employees who are most often recruited from Monrovia.
“This is a historical challenge that is mainly affecting the health and educational facilities.”
The ministry assures that it is working in close collaboration with the Civil Service Agency (CSA) and the Ministry of Finance to employ more than 1500 teachers while ensuring that teachers who abandon assignments have their accounts blocked or removed from the payroll.
“These employments were done within this current 2022 budget year before the submission of this audit report,” they maintained.
According to Section 3.4.1 of the Standing Order for Civil Servants (SOCS) 2012, “All vacancies in the classified service shall be filled by original or provisional appointment, promotion, reemployment, transfer, or demotion.”
Educational experts are surprised by the findings of the report, as they believe it doesn’t paint a good picture of Liberia’s educational sector, especially in such a modern era.
At the same time, the GAC report uncovered that under the administrative and financial supervision of Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweh, Director General James Thompson, and Janga Kowo, huge regularities were observed with the implementation of the salary harmonization process at several government ministries and agencies, with about three thousand nine hundred seventy (3,970) employees, representing 5.9% of civil servants across 80 ministries and agencies, earning above the harmonized pay-grade expected salaries.
The GAC audit also revealed that nine thousand two hundred eighty-seven (9,287) employees represented 13.7% of employees.Records on the Alternative Temporary Automated Payroll Systems (ATAPS) were not available for physical verification.
“Three thousand nine hundred seventy (3,970) employees, representing 5.9% of civil servants across 80 ministries and agencies, earned above the harmonized pay-grade expected salaries.” The total monthly difference in excess salary payments amounted to US$581,439,15.
Conspicously, thirty-two thousand Seven Hundred Fifty-Nine (32,759) employees representing 48.7% of civil servants across 90 entities of government earned below the harmonized pay-grade expectedsalaries.
“The total monthly difference was US$5,710,026.97.”Twenty-Five Thousand One Hundred Sixty-Two (25,162) employees, representing 37.4% of civil servants in government across 97 ministries and agencies, did not have pay grades.
Also, sixty-six thousand, six hundred ninety-one (66,691) records, constituting 99.1% of the payroll data on ATAPS from across 66 entities, were found to contain exceptions or irregularities.
“There were net variances amounting to USD54, 317.21, and LRD2, 854,559.52 between the net payroll per amount in ATAPS and bank payment advice across two ministries for the months of July 2021 to December 2021.”During the audit, the GAC observed that the total number of employees of the Government of Liberia recorded in the ATAPS database totaled 67,299 (sixty-seven thousand two hundred and nine).ninety-nine) from across 103 entities.
However, the outcome of the physical verification revealed that a total of 9,287 (nine thousand two hundred eighty-seven) employees, representing 13.8% of the total, did not turn out for the head count exercise and therefore were not physically verified.
Furthermore, the GAC confirmed that it received communications from heads of ministries and agencies providing an official excuse of absence for a total of 81 (eighty-one) employees from 13 (thirteen) entities who did not turn out for the physical verification or head count exercise due to various reasons.
With this, the Commission believes that illegitimate individuals or personnel may have been paid for services not performed or that payments may have been made to ghost employees, thereby leading to fraud, waste, and abuse.misappropriation.
With detailed findings on the salary harmonization, the GAC audit report reveals that it observed that the pay-grade harmonization initiative of theThe government was not comprehensively implemented across all entities, which resulted in employees earning below and/or above the established pay grades while there were no pay grades established for other employees.
“Failure to ensure the harmonized pay grade is comprehensively and consistently applied across all institutions of government may lead to discretionary determination of salary, which may lead to misappropriation and misapplication of government funds,” the GAC advised.