Education Dept shoots down ghost pupils claim

2016-03-29 11:01
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - The provincial government has shot down allegations by an opposition party that KwaZulu-Natal schools currently have well over two million ghost pupils.

Asked to comment on a slating report by Inkatha Freedom Party provincial education spokesperson Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the report “cannot be correct”.

In a media statement released earlier this week by the IFP, Madlopha-Mthethwa said after insisting on being given identity numbers for pupils across the province, findings revealed that about 11 000 pupils are registered at more than one school at the same time.

Madlopha-Mthethwa also alleged that the number of “ghost” pupils in the province could be as high as 2,6 million.

The term “ghost” pupils describes the practice of principals illegally inflating the numbers of pupils in their schools in order to gain extra funding from the government.

“This is a damning indictment not only on the school principals involved, but also on the KZN Department of Education and its senior officials,” Madlopha-Mthethwa said.

“Head counts for both pupils and teachers have been ongoing since 2010 but still there are ‘ghosts’ that are draining the resources of the department.”

Mlotshwa said it “cannot be correct” that there are 2,6 million ghost pupils in the province, when 2,6 million is almost the total number of pupils at government schools in the province.

“In 2014, we discovered that there were 1 700 ghost pupils in the province and that was corrected through the process of a headcount,” Mlotshwa said.

However, adamant about their statistics, Madlopha-Mthethwa said principals should be held accountable.

“They (principals) should not be allowed to get away lightly for fraudulent activities, such as falsifying pupil and teacher numbers, thereby placing a financial strain on the education budget,” said Madlopha-Mthethwa.

“In this financial year, the DOE received over R45 billion, which is the largest slice of the provincial budget. It is not surprising that the department is unable to provide suitable toilets and adequate classrooms at many schools across the province when its finances are being drained by ‘ghosts’ in the system.”

“There must be severe repercussions for the looting of state resources if we are to succeed in getting rid of the cancer of corruption that has become rampant in most state departments,” said Madlopha-Mthethwa.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  education  |  school

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