Education Ministry grilled over expense irregularities, poor outcomes

The Ministry of Education has been castigated by the State Audit Bureau for the many irregularities observed during the annual audit review of the accounts and records of the ministry for the fiscal year 2018-2019.

The discrepancies were observed in most sectors of the ministry, including revenues and expenses, contracts, facilities, maintenance, salaries, bonuses, employment affairs, warehouses and others.

In particular, the Audit Bureau was highly critical of the expenses incurred by the ministry in signing a contract with the World Bank for a program aimed at improving the quality of school education. The bureau pointed out that the contract which was signed for KD11 million failed to achieve its objectives, as the ministry failed to implement, supervise and follow-up on the recommendations made by the program.

As a result, Kuwait which in fiscal year 2016-2017 ranked 92nd in the world for the quality of secondary education, dropped to 111th position in 2018-2019 after the World Bank program was implemented. Similarly, the state incurred a loss of KD5.8 million that the World Bank charged as fees for improving the quality of primary education, even as Kuwait declined in the quality of primary education and in school administration during the year under review. This fall in quality of primary education was reflected in the International Competitiveness Report prepared by the World Economic Forum.

The State Audit Bureau specifically highlighted the excessive costs that were incurred by the ministry as expenses for the World Bank team’s visits to Kuwait, including KD118,000 for translation work, and KD33,000 for accommodation for a six-month period for one World Bank adviser.

The report also cited other shortcomings, including in leasing public school premises to private schools, in the payment of staff salaries, and in the contracts for maintenance of air conditioning equipment, refrigeration, heating and ventilation in schools and buildings.