kaieteur news  Apr 29, 2017 News

 Sometime ago calls were made for the Ministry of Human Services, now the Social Protection Ministry, to launch an investigation into allegations of an Old Age pension list fraught with ghost pensioners. However, a

similar state of affairs has now been uncovered within the Ministry of Education.
Revelations in this regard were exposed by Mr. Ed Caesar, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry [COI], appointed by Government to investigate the education system. The COI was recommended by Senior Minister of Education, Rupert Roopnaraine.
Yesterday, a preliminary report into the investigation was handed over to Minister Roopnaraine in the presence of media operatives and other officials in the Ministry of Education’s boardroom.
But ahead of handing over the report, Caesar made the starling disclosure about ghost teachers in the system, which he said was discovered during the investigation. The investigation commenced last year.
“We have seen pay sheets with names of teachers who, as far as the head teachers are concerned, don’t exist. We are seeing ghost teachers, so to speak…and recently one of the schools called and said to us another name has been added,” said Mr. Caesar of a school’s payroll.
As if the forgoing was not starling enough, Caesar revealed, “We have seen a name of a person being transferred from a school that doesn’t exist to another school. So financial management has to be addressed, and be addressed seriously, or else we will have other kinds of issues.”
Moreover, a recommendation coming out of the COI, Caesar said, “is that departments of education must monitor things like that; departments must know who are the persons on the Ministry or department payrolls.”
The Minister of Education in offering his comment on the disturbing development regarded it a police matter.
“It is high fraud and it should be dealt with. I think it is beyond the powers of the Ministry of Education, and it is something that requires the attention of the people who are trained to investigate,” said Minister Roopnaraine, as he reiterated “I do believe it is a serious offence.”
But according to Technical Adviser to the Minister, Mr. Vincent Alexander, it must be recognised that the fraudulent situation is in fact one that has arisen out of the submission of the COI report. He moreover pointed out that “the approach the Ministry will take is the approach Mr. Caesar spoke to. The Ministry will ask the departments to investigate and give us the specifics…”
According to Alexander, “We cannot make a commitment or take further action without specific information.”
Based on Caesar’s deliberation, several issues of financial mismanagement were found during the Commission’s sojourn in the Berbice River. “Our education department must keep themselves abreast of how finances are used; how grants are utilised. It is very important that they go down that road,” stressed Caesar, a former Chief Education Officer.
There were however several other troubling issues that were uncovered during the COI ranging from infrastructural shortcomings to issues with the curriculum. In fact, according to Caesar, there were reports forthcoming that suggest that the Interactive Radio Instruction [IRI] Mathematics programme might have contributed to the poor performance in Mathematics. This of course will have to be investigated by the Education Ministry.
There are, however, several good things that are happening in the sector, Caesar noted. But according to him, the purpose of the COI was to identify the shortcomings in order to have them addressed.
Caesar revealed that while a number of issues are yet to be addressed, there were some that the Commission was able to examine and cause changes to occur quickly during the inquiry. “There were head teachers in the system, education officers and so on, who were ready and willing to listen and they have made some adjustments,” Caesar revealed.
The course of the inquiry, according to Caesar, gained a great deal of input from members of the various communities throughout the country, teachers; representatives of the Guyana Teachers’ Union and the University of Guyana, among others.
There has, however, not been any input from the political opposition. But this has not been because of the lack of trying. “We spoke with the opposition leader and I called several times…I don’t think they are unwilling to…but even if its midnight we will go and meet them when they find the time,” said Caesar.
“The important thing is we want is to hear their [opposition] views as soon as possible and especially because the opposition leader has had several Ministers of Education on his team. They had to have had a vision for education, they must be seeing what is happening now and have some suggestions to make,” Caesar continued as he asserted, “Education is everybody’s business.”
He is optimistic that the opposition’s input will be forthcoming before the final report is completed. The final report, Caesar assured Minister Roopnaraine yesterday, will be completed within the next two to three weeks.