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Govt splashes P9.4m on students

Staff Writer
The Ministry of Education has spent P9.4 million in overpayment of allowances to 745 students who were studying in South Africa between 1999 and 2005, Assistant Minister of Education, Kavis Kario, confirmed yesterday.

"There were 364 responsive debtors. one hundred were difficult to trace due to no form of identification, 281 did not respond at all and two are deceased," Kario told Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to a question from MP for Palapye, Moiseraele Goya, who wanted to know how much was spent in overpayments to students and how much has been recovered to date.

He also wanted the minister to state what measures are in place to ensure non-recurrence of such overpayment in the future.

"We have to date recovered a total of P804,662.  Some of the responsive debtors have stated that they are unable to pay as they are still unemployed," Kario said, adding that the process of recovering the money is continuing.

Kario stated that no structures were put in place to handle the high volume of students when the government started sending students to study in South Africa in 1999.

"With no key student identifiers in place the only education office responsible for the whole of South Africa was overwhelmed, hence the poor record keeping resulting in the numerous errors.

The ministry found that there were no key identifiers resulting in students using multiple

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names. The education attaché was not versed in bookkeeping so no reconciliation was done. Students continued to be paid allowances even after completion. Students were given large amounts of advances without considering whether advances would have been fully recovered by the time they completed their studies.

In response the ministry put measures in place deploying qualified accounts officers well versed in government accounting. Omang has subsequently been put in place as a key identifier to curb multiple payments to students. Advances are assessed as repayments are controlled and limited to a period of three to four months. Payroll registers are revised every semester. At the time of completion, students are removed from the payroll system.

Kario further said that students who complete their studies are given statements of expenditure to submit to their sponsor. "This is with effect from the first semester of 2009 and their last allowances are based on the official publication date of results of which institutions provide to our office," he said.

Thousands of Batswana students were sent to study in South Africa after the abrupt termination of the National Service Programme (Tirelo Sechaba). The programme has been terminated.



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