Once structures that have been put in place to serve a particular purpose fail to fulfil that role, there is definite need to review them or strengthen governance systems so that we do not have continued failures.
Last week we had two articles of two headmasters in Matabeleland North schools, one in Lupane and another in Tsholotsho, who are accused of embezzling school funds.
There have been others as well but what these cases seem to show us is how easy it is for headmasters to abuse school funds if they so wish.
While the schools have headmasters, bursars and school development committees, it is not clear if these roles are clearly defined and understood by all the parties.
It could be that these cases that are coming to the fore are due to the fact that the concerned schools have functional school development committees that quickly blow the whistle.
However, there could be many more schools where funds have been misappropriated but the SDCs do not have the capacity to raise the issues or have no capacity to uncover such.
It is against this background that we feel that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should carry out periodic audits and have proper induction for the School Development Committees so that they are not unnecessarily swayed by the headmasters into failure to play their role.
We are aware that headmasters are poorly paid and that the temptation to dip one’s fingers in the till could be high hence the need for the checks and balances.
The idea is not to make the school operations difficult to run but to ensure that there is transparency.
A few months ago we reported the case of another school in Matabeleland South where the head was reported to have removed school property and used it in his businesses, in addition to selling off a heavy school machine to a firm in Bulawayo.
While some of the accusations might border on malice, it becomes worrying when there is no clear paper work that shows where specific school property was removed to.
Cases of reported abuse seem to be quite prevalent in rural communities and this should be nipped in the bud.
The Government needs to close loopholes and ensure that parents are not discouraged by cases of dishonest leadership at schools.
In some rural communities, payment of fees is so poor it’s a miracle how the heads run the schools but poor payment can also be a sign of lack of faith in the running of the affairs of the schools.