Since kicking off our schools campaign in January this year, the number of complaints about corruption in schools has increased dramatically. In March we recorded a total of 68 tip-offs, but by the end of July, this figure had passed the 200-mark.
See our infographic explaining the trends here.
The complaints indicate that principals and school governing bodies are at the centre of the misconduct reported, which involves maladministration, financial mismanagement, and other forms of corruption.
Corruption Watch’s schools campaigns aims at strengthening the voice and ability of parents to hold school leadership to account.
In analysing our schools data, were are seeing that the most prevalent type of corruption involves the abuse of school funds and resources by both school governing body members and principals. An example of this is:
“We experienced a very serious fraud in our school, XXX Primary. it was done by the most highly profiled comrade, the principal. We have numerous scenarios which need your level of expertise to investigate. These are some of that which we can share with you: the principal hired a borehole drilling machine/company. it bored two holes, one at school and the other at his house. The cheque paid to the company was fat and this rose suspicion that the two holes were paid by one school-cheque … The school photo camera and its printer, estimated to be worth an amount of R6000, vanished from his office, and on top of that he did not allow the SGB to open a case of burglary with the police.”
In looking at the tip-offs per province, Gauteng was the source of 62 complaints or 30.85% of the total number received. This is in keeping with the general corruption-reporting trends we’re picking up. The province to get the second highest number of schools complaints was Mpumalanga, which is slightly above the average for this province. KwaZulu-Natal got the third highest number of complaints, followed by Free State, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Western Cape respectively.
When assessing the breakdown between urban and rural areas, we can see that more schools tip-offs come from small towns than metro areas, although the discrepancy is slight: 26.19% from metros and 29.76% from small towns. The difference is from unknown locations and provincial capitals.
Corruption in procurement processes is the second most prevalent type of misconduct we see in schools tip-offs. These activities usually involve some form of a conflict of interest on the part of staff members at schools, most of whom are principals.
We’re seeing that procurement contracts for school supplies, maintenance work, building or renovations to school property are given to family and friends of school heads, and it is assumed that this is not declared to the governing body.
Many of the complaints we get detail how governing bodies are not holding principals accountable for contracts that the school enters into, or that they are unaware that procurement processes are being abused by principals. For example:
“The principal buys the favour of the SGB by giving tenders for paving and building structures at the school to the chairperson and splitting the money with the chairperson.”
Nepotism is also rife among our schools complaints, particularly that which involves hiring friends and family, or school officials receiving payment in return for appointing someone to a certain position. In most cases the complaint is that hiring procedures were not followed or manipulated in some way. For example:
“There’s corruption happening in the XXX Department of Education. Mrs. XX was appointed in the pose level 2 without following proper procedures. She never applied for the post, she was just appointed by the head of the department who is Mr. XXX. Mrs. XXX was a lecturer ina collage at Regensburg where she met Mr. XXX. In 2010 Mrs. XXX was moved to level 1, we went to the department to complain but they never came back to us. When we complain they stopped paying Mrs. XXX a salary of level 1 and pay her a salary of level 2.”
We are calling on parents, teachers, and principals to report cases of corruption to us. The leads we receive will enable us to identify hotspots of corruption and confront the relevant authorities about corruption as the public is experiencing it.