Equal access to decent education on hold
The Accounting Chamber has carried out an audit to ascertain how efficiently Ukraine’s World Bank loan for implementing a Project for Equal Access to Decent Education. The results suggest that the officials involved in the Project from the Ministries of Education, for the Economy and of Finance lack the will, professionalism and State approach to ensuring effective and timely implementation of the relevant measures to achieve the Project’s objectives.
As a consequence, at the completion point stipulated by the international agreement, not one of the Project’s three components has been implemented. These are aimed at raising the professional skills of teachers and school heads, improving the conditions of study in schools and raising the efficiency of the system of general education.
Of the 87 million USD borrowed, over 3.5 years only 10% has been used, and nearly half of the contracts signed have effectively not been carried out. The Accounting Chamber Panel lays the main blame for the unsatisfactory state of implementation of this extremely important Project and the inefficient use of a loan on the management of the Ministry of Education which is the initiator of the Project and was appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers to be responsible for its implementation. The Ministry of Education has not carried out the necessary measures to provide organizational support, to create the system for planning, management and control over implementation of the Project envisaged by the current normative legal base and by Project agreements. Nor has it established mechanisms of supervision over the structures created under the Ministry for coordinating the Project’s measures and has not regulated interaction and control over the activities of the institutions responsible for implementing particular aspects of the Project on all its levels.
Analysis of correspondence with the World Bank shows that the latter is more concerned about the state of implementation than the officials of the above-mentioned Ministries which have not attempted to join forces to ensure timely and full implementation of the Project and achievement of its objectives. This was encouraged by the indifference demonstrated by the Cabinet of Ministers which lacked the will to even ensure that a Committee headed by the Deputy Prime Minister begin working to coordinate the bodies involved in the Project. There was thus no supervision by the Cabinet of Ministers. Nor did the Cabinet of Ministers hear reports from the management of the Ministry of Education on implementation of the Project and it passed no decisions aimed at resolving the problems impeding its implementation.
Unsatisfactory implementation of the Project and the lack of possibility of gaining public funding has resulted in the cancellation of funding for a number of measures amounting to almost 16 million USD of the loan (18% of the total loan).
This has meant that the opportunity has been wasted to carry out such measures as preparing and circulating textbooks for rural schools; supplementing school libraries (10 schools in each oblast); providing material for the teaching of foreign languages; the creation of an electronic database on teaching material available; innovative developments in schools (the provision of mini-grants had been envisaged); and bodies of management of education departments within district administrations; implementation of a nationwide information system of management of education to gather and circulate strategic information on access to information and its quality.
Due to delay in preparing and poor running of tender procedure the services in teaching of 4.4 thousand teachers is in question, as well as the purchase of 182 teaching rooms for maths, physics, biology and chemistry for 86 schools; 87 buses in rural areas; plans with quotes for repairs to 211 schools and the carrying out of such repairs to the tune of almost 63 million USD.
At the meeting of the Panel, a number of recommendations were put forward to the Ministry of Education aimed at completing those measures and contracts which have already been started but whose completion has been unwarrantedly dragged out.
From a report at http://www.ac-rada.gov.ua/achamber/