Education Ministry pays Limkokwing University in excess
August 16, 2019
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Director of Internal Audit at the Ministry of Finance, Kandeh sesay, has disclosed at the Commission of Inquiry presided over by Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology had paid Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in excess of one billion eight hundred and twenty seven million Leones for unregistered students.
“The government paid excess for 108 students that were not registered with the university, amounting to one billion eight hundred and twenty seven million Leones. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science Technology to supply the government with the list of beneficiary students,” he said.
He said the internal audit department at the Ministry of Finance is responsible for assigning internal auditors to various Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs), noting that he was in charge of supervising and coordinating the activities of internal auditors that were assigned to the various MDAs.
He said he was aware of the government grant-in-aid that was offered to students at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, noting that he was instructed by the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance to undertake a review of the submission by the then ministry of education, requesting payment in respect of government scholarships.
He said they asked the ministry of education to submit memorandum of agreement, document to show the amount, names and number of students that were awarded the scholarships, payment and all other relevant documents.
He said at the conclusion of the review process, they came out with their findings in a report titled ‘review report for government of Sierra Leone grant-in-aid to students of Limkokwing University for 2016 – 2017 and 2017 – 2018 academic years.’
He said the memorandum of agreement made provision for the government to provide at least 1,200 grant-in-aid scholarship to students, who have been given offer letters to pursue their higher education in the university.
He said the agreement also stated that the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology will provide one scholarship for every ten provided by the government.
He said fees for degree courses was $USD3, 000, while diploma courses cost $USD2, 500 for student per year.
He said the university in its second year of operation in March 10th, 2017, had 1,520 students and that government was currently supporting 1,081 students for undergraduate degree programmes,394 students for diploma programmes, while the remaining 45 are privately supported students.
He said based on the document submitted to them during their review, there was evidence that university was providing scholarship as stated in the memorandum of agreement between them and the government.
He said the names of successful candidates were published, but that the associated interview report was not presented to them during their review process.
He added that for a student to be offered a scholarship he or she must go through the interview process and that report must be produced at the end of the exercise.
He said the ministry of education failed to submit the report to them with the excuse that the computer containing the information crashed and that they could not trace the information.
He said they also noticed that students pursuing degree programmes took four years to complete, while diploma students took three years to complete their programmes, noting that according to the agreement, government was to provide scholarship to minimum of 1,200 students admitted into the university.
He said the total amount payable for the first set of students for the 2016-2017 academic year was $USD3, 406,000, noting that government did first instalment payment of 50% to the university for 1,200 ,amounting to $USD1,703,000, equivalent nine billion eight hundred and seventy-seven million and four hundred thousand Leones.
He said second instalment payment of $USD1, 703,000 was also done, adding that the total number of verified students for the 2016-2017 academic years was 1092 instead of 1,200, which meant that not all of the students paid or registered with the university.
He said the total number of students as claimed by the university was 1, 200, when the total number of students registered with the university was 1092.
He said based on the number of students registered for the first academic year that government paid for, the university was supposed to provide 10% (109) scholarships to sierra Leonean students amounting to $USD308, 500 for the first year, but that there was no evidence to prove that they provided the scholarship.
He said the total claims for the 2017-2018 academic year sent by the university to the ministry of education for processing of 1,200 amounted to twenty five billion, nine hundred and fifteen million two hundred and sixty two thousand Leones for the first set of students in their second academic year.
He disclosed that as per agreement, the university should train 200 government officials in the use of digital technology annually at no cost to government, but that there was no documentary evidence to show that the university had been fulfilling that part of the agreement for the past two academic years of operations.
He said they noticed that other grant-in-aid sent to the Ministry of Finance was having the signature of the former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, but that they noticed that the Limkokwing University grant-in-aid was not bearing the signature of the former minister.
He further stated that there was no documentary evidence to show that the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology was rectified or approved by government, noting that the agreement bears huge financial burden on the government which means it would have been appropriate to be ratified by Parliament.