Saturday, September 19, 2020

MoE corruption investigations stall as system collapses

Investigations into corrupt practices at the Ministry of Education’s Department of Student Placement and Welfare are said to have hit a snag after the system that contains information on student loans, the Student Loans Management System (SLMS), allegedly broke down.

As a result the twenty eight officials of the DSPW who were interdicted over allegations of corruption are still in the dark as to what the future holds for them, long after the MoE promised that it will communicate with them.

The officers were interdicted three weeks ago amid allegations of corruption, with promises that they will be contacted in two weeks, after investigations have been carried out.
One of the junior officers who were interdicted told Sunday Standard that they have started feeling very insecure about their future employment prospects as the MoE does not communicate with them.

The officer also said that they suspect that the reason for the delay might be that the investigations which the Department wanted to carry out were stalled after the SLMS collapsed.
Without the SLMS, he said, the MoE cannot carry out any investigations. He further said that government stands to lose millions in unpaid students loans as the collapse of the SLMS means that loan repayments cannot be followed.

The junior officer further told Sunday Standard that the MoE’s investigations are flawed in that they only target junior officers, who really do not hold any clout as they normally act on instructions issued by their superiors.

He said that senior officers at MoE should also be investigated, particularly because the SLMS is layered, such that it cannot be operated by a junior officer without the assistance or authorization of his or her superior.

“There are certain transactions that junior officers can perform, and accessibility improves with seniority. It is therefore wrong for junior officers to be targeted while seniors are let loose because corruption should ideally rise as you go up the ladder” he said.

He also said that the investigations are discriminative in that foreign based officers are never investigated.
” We have never heard of officers based abroad being investigated, yet they too disburse money to students in the countries where they are based” he said.
He also said that foreign based officers never return unused funds to government, which makes them wonder if they always deplete their budget.

The officer further expressed worries that their continued interdiction will negatively affect students seeking funding to tertiary schools this year.
Last year other officers were interdicted on similar allegations of misappropriation of funds, but they were finally reinstated and even promoted.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.