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K5 billion Covid expenditure impresses taskforce

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By Samuel Kalimira & Yohane Symon

The Presidential Taskforce on Covid has said it is impressed with how the education cluster has used K5 billion meant for pandemic response activities.

Co-chairperson for the committee Wilson Chalamira Nkhoma said the decision to directly fund the education cluster’s Covid response activities had helped minimise incidences of funds mismanagement.

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Nkhoma made the remarks on Wednesday after inspecting projects implemented using Covid response funds in the Northern Region.

Taskforce members inspected a classroom block built at Ngazi Primary School and a borehole drilled at Kwakupokera Community Day Secondary School

He said the education cluster has constructed 342 classroom blocks out of the 383 planned classroom blocks across the country, representing 89 percent success rate.

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Nkhoma said the cluster has also drilled 442 boreholes out of the 502 proposed boreholes.

On recruitment, he said 3,270 teachers were hired for 14 months, the majority of whom have been fully employed by councils.

“What was happening is that the funds were deposited directly in schools’ accounts and this meant committees in schools were handling the funds to either construct a classroom block or drill a borehole. No one from Capital Hill or from education headquarters had a hand in management of the funds, thereby reducing cases of mismanagement of the funds,” Nkhoma said.

Public Accounts Committee of Parliament member Emmanuel Chambulanyina Jere was equally impressed but asked school committees that have not completed constructing the remaining classroom blocks to ensure they work with speed.

In another development, Parliament’s Committee on Health has said it is impressed with how the Ministry of Education used the K5 billion set aside for Covid response.

The funds were allocated through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, which released about K17.1 billion to government departments and agencies.

Deputy Committee Chairperson Eurita Valeta told stakeholders, during a tour of schools in Mangochi District, that the committee was impressed with the quality of a classroom block which was built at St August 3 Primary School in Mangochi.

“We still have challenges in terms space in most schools, which is defeating the purpose of social distance as a preventive measure. But, overall, we are happy with how the Ministry of Education used the Covid response funds,” she said.

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