Chiredzi school heads, DSI clash over Unicef grant

CHIREDZI district schools inspector Petronella Nyangwe is in the eye of a storm after school heads in the district accused her of corruptly cherry-picking certain suppliers to benefit from a United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Schools Improvement Grant (SIG).

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

The school heads allege that Nyangwe and other officials stationed at the district offices were running small companies supplying school furniture, stationery and other requirements, milking the grant dry.

The heads, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, claimed that they were being arm-twisted to order all their supplies from those companies whose prices were inflated.

“This is the kind of corruption that has been going on unabated for years, and it is defeating the purpose of the grant. Some projects are left unfinished or schools miss the target because of the prices. This needs to be investigated if the grant is going to transform the schools that benefit from it.

“Some of the companies only spring up when schools in the district receive the grant. As we speak, we have been instructed to buy face masks supplied by one of the school inspectors,” one of the heads said.

Nyangwe could neither confirm nor deny that district officials own the alleged companies and refused to disclose the amount allocated to Chiredzi under the grant.

“We haven’t received any complaints so far from the school heads, but we are definitely going to investigate the matter,” Nyangwe said.

Masvingo provincial education director Zedious Chitiga said he was yet to receive a report from Chiredzi and promised to investigate the matter.

The SIG programme aims to provide financially constrained schools with enough resources to address their most basic needs to improve the quality of teaching and learning and reducing user fee costs for vulnerable children.

The grant is a component of the Education Development Fund (EDF) 2012-2020. It is a multi-donor pooled funding
mechanism supported by UK Aid from the United Kingdom government and the German Development Bank.

The EDF enables donors to jointly support the Primary and Secondary Education ministry in its activities, with Unicef managing the funds and providing technical support.

Newly-appointed Unicef representative in Zimbabwe, Laylee Moshiri, could not be reached for comment.

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