Governors deny “misusing” education funds

Governors deny “misusing” education funds
Vice President for Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi (photo credit: courtesy)

The Vice President for the Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi, has accused some governors of rechanneling money meant for education in the states to other programs.

“The transferred money to the states for education are diverted by some governors to different fields and for this; I am telling the governors this is unacceptable and I urge you to stop this kind of activities by now,” Abdelbagi appealed, as he address the fifth governors’ forum in Juba on Monday.

The Governor of Eastern Equatoria State, Louis Lobong Lojore, concurred with  Abdelbagi, saying a similar complaint had also been raised by a director in the ministry of health.

“One of the directors in the ministry of health also made the same complaint that there has been the diversion of conditional grants that go to various institutions, particularly health.

“It might be true that such a thing is happening in other places, but not in Eastern Equatoria State,’’ Lobong said.

 He added: ‘‘When there is such a thing [happens], we add more from our local revenue to reach the grass-root because this is what we need,” Lobong said.

Lobong added that it was the organisation that had signed an agreement with the Ministry of General Education that ought to manage the money meant to benefit girls in the states, not the local governments.

“There is already an organisation that has signed an agreement with the national ministry of general education, and this organisation takes money to various schools, and the girls take this money directly from these people, not even from the headteachers,” he explained.

He defended his colleagues by saying that the money is not being managed by the state authorities.

“Whether every single girl gets it or not [is unknown]. But I know that we are not touching it. We even do not know how much because it goes directly to the girls in particular schools, so we do not know.”

Doubting assertions

Lobong advised the national ministries to report misuse of funds allocated for programs in the states to the individual governors to resolve the matter.

He doubted whether some governors divert cash transfers to implement projects in their states.

According to Lobong, if such happens, it may be due to misunderstandings or paymasters in those institutions that sometimes do it.

 “This is spoiling the names of the states, spoiling the names of governors [whether it is true] or not.” There may be one state now, but it has been written as if there are all governors. This is already making donors fear giving money to the states. So, for me, this is blackmailing and it might be in some counties, not even all,” Lobong stressed.

Governor Sarah Cleto of Western Bar-el-Gazal State said when a letter was sent to her state about the misappropriation of the cash transfer for education, she summoned her state minister of education to clarify how the cash for schoolgirls had been spent.

“What triggered more of my attention was the letter that we received from the national government that the governor is diverting the cash transfers for other interests. So, I summoned my minister of education to ensure that this should not happen in our states, ” Cleto said.

She added: “He [minister] was very clear that all the allocations went to different schools and counties as well, and at the time the director of schools from Raja was in Wau, I met with him to ensure that he got the exact amount that went to Raja,” she added.

Schools not vacated

Meanwhile, Abdelbaggi lamented that some schools in the states were still being illegally occupied while others had been converted into markets.

“We have witnessed across the country the illegal occupation of school properties and the conversion of school premises [into markets].

“I would like to take this opportunity to call on the governors to implement the earlier directive by the national cabinet ordering the recovery of the school assets used for commercial activities,” Abdelbagi said.

“Conducive learning environments must be referred to in some of the affected schools nationwide.”