Johannesburg - Principals are the main culprits of corruption in schools, with embezzlement of school funds the most common illegal practice.
This is according to a report by Corruption Watch, a civil society watchdog that receives reports from the public.
“Corruption in the education sector comprises corruption in more than just schools, it also involves corruption in provincial education departments, higher education institutions and further education institutions,” the report reads.
Between January and December last year, Corruption Watch received 68 reports of corruption in the education sector, with Gauteng heading the list with 13 reports, followed by Mpumalanga with 12.
This means that this type of corruption accounts for 11 percent of all reports received by Corruption Watch.
“We plan to launch a big campaign on schools corruption this year and we are soliciting more reports in this area,” said Corruption Watch spokeswoman Bongi Mlangeni.
Recently reported cases of corruption in schools:
* February 11: Fourteen employees of the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department, including six principals, are fired for benefiting from meals intended for poor pupils. Officials are found to either be helping themselves to the food or benefiting from kickbacks in the awarding of the contracts.
* February 22, 2012: The principal of Kiasha Park Primary School in Lenasia South is investigated after arriving at work seemingly drunk. Further allegations are made that teachers used teaching time to hold meetings while pupils played outside.
* March 1, 2012: Fons Luminis Secondary School in Diepkloof is probed for mismanagement while its principal, Lempe Motumi, has a pending case of fraud hanging over him.
* Hillcrest Primary School in Malvern is also probed around this time for allegations of financial mismanagement and poor school management.
* March 1, 2012: Sandringham High School principal Logan Naidoo is investigated over financial misconduct, including soliciting donations as bribes and blackmail. He is still being investigated.
* August 29, 2012: Teachers at Sanddrift Primary School near Brits in North West plan a strike against the principal’s management of the school. They claim he never visits classrooms, fails to support teachers and has poor management skills.
The Corruption Watch report says: “Contrary to the general trends in corruption reporting, only 21 percent of reports come from Gauteng, from where 40 percent of all corruption reports were received.”
Embezzlement of funds by principals was the most commonly reported form of corruption, although there were a few cases where it was done by members of the school governing body.
“School governing bodies and principals are reported to be the main culprits of corrupt activities, and use their position of power to abuse both funds and resources that should be allocated in a manner that furthers the right of children to an education,” the report says.
Most often, the funds are allocated by the provincial education department for specific projects, which are never completed and so the principals cannot account for where the money has gone. Embezzlement accounts for almost 40 percent of school-related corruption, followed by corruption in the procurement process at 16 percent.
Often, contracts are granted to family or friends of public officials and, according to Corruption Watch, it is assumed that the conflict of interest is not declared.
Again, principals are implicated in the procurement process in some way in most reports.
Mismanagement by school governing bodies is the third most commonly reported form of corruption, which includes a lack of financial statements, a lack of basic equipment and underqualified people being appointed to critical positions.