Communities in Malawi’s northern district of Nkhata Bay are up in arms against the country’s Ministry of Education following a K314 million (US$762 136) school project which was earmarked for the district and despite being approved in 2010, the project has not yet started.
The communities suspect that funds for the construction project at St. Augustine Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) might have been misappropriated or the project was just used as a political campaign gimmick by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which was in government then.
Communities surrounding the school claim that government, through the African Development Fund (Malawi/ADF Education V Project) was supposed to construct various facilities including a laboratory, a library and a reading room, a staff house and bring water services, solar power installation, and classroom equipment.
But none of these have taken shape.
“What we saw out of the whole project is the delivery of school desks, computers, photocopier, printer and laboratory equipment in 2013,” said one community memeber in an interview when Nyasa Times crew visited the school with the District Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Committee.
The visit was led by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Mzuzu Diocese which has also raised an alarm over the ‘ghost’ project.
Officials at the school disclosed that several officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Lilongwe visited the school to, among other things, monitor infrastructure construction, yet there was no infrastructure under construction.
The officials also said that between 2010 and 2011, construction machinery (Grader) was brought to the school, but it was withdrawn within two days.
The same years officials from the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) also visited the school to prepare for install electricity on the supposedly ‘constructed’ structures, according to information from the school’s records.
According to an advert from the Ministry of Education that appeared in The Daily Times, the country’s widely circulating daily, of December 5 2011, which bidders were called to construct, complete and maintain a laboratory, library and reading room, a staff house, water services, solar power installation and associated external works.
These works were supposed to be done in nine secondary schools in selected districts, including Chadabwa (Lilongwe), Katewe, Katsekaminga (Dedza), Kambale (Neno), Muhasuwa (Chiradzulu), Mpinji (Thyolo), Mkumaniza (Chikwawa) and Masenjere (Nsanje).
District Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Committee chairperson John Chunda said the information they have shows that funds for the project were released, but they might have been misappropriated since there are no structures on the ground.
Acting education division manager (EDM) in the North Pauper Mkandawire confirmed of the supposed project but said his office has never been consulted on it as he said it was being supervised by officials from the ministry’s headquarters.
Director of education planning in the Ministry of Education Victor Lungu confirmed that the school was among 30 secondary schools nationwide earmarked in the project.
He, however, said the project which was under Malawi/ADF Education V Project was phased out in 2012.
“The project was initiated to upgrade about 30 secondary schools nationwide and each school’s allocation was $800 000 (about K314 million). By the end of the project we were only able to work on 18 schools,” saids Lungu.
He dismissed fears of misappropriation of funds for the project saying the 12 were left out because of lack of funds.
Lungu could not explain why there was a deficit when the project had a budget for 30 schools.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :