Uganda Government Suspends Teacher Transfers and Recruitment to Allow Audit

By | May 3, 2023

The Ministry of Education has decided to halt the recruitment and transfer of new staff in all government schools until a nationwide public service payroll audit is completed, according to a letter from the ministry’s permanent secretary, Ms Ketty Lamaro, sent to heads of all public schools on April 17.

The audit will be carried out by the Auditor General, and the suspension of staff movements will allow for the audit to be carried out without complications. The postponement of staff movements has come at a time when 2,500 teachers who were recruited a year ago had hoped to be deployed.

The Ministry of Education spokesperson, Mr Denis Mugimba, stated that until the Auditor General’s report is out, no teacher can be deployed or transferred as this may lead to complications. All teachers will be physically verified by officials from the office of the Auditor General, and anyone absent during the verification process will not be counted.

The public service payroll audit is expected to take more than two months, with completion expected by the start of the next financial year in July. The government had commissioned the audit to determine the exact number of civil servants and to find out exactly how much they should be paying in salaries and wages.

The decision to audit the payroll followed widespread reports from many districts and government agencies indicating unusual shortfalls in wage budgets this financial year, which caused disruptions in the payment of civil servants in recent months. Earlier audits had also revealed that billions of shillings had been lost to questionable salary payments and due to computations based on faulty data.

In 2014, the Auditor General’s office appointed Ernst & Young, an international audit firm, to investigate the validity of over 6,000 civil servants, mainly teachers and police officers, who had been reinstated on the government payroll after they had been deleted in 2013 following a government audit.

The government technocrats reinstated them without informing the Auditor General’s office on the pretext that the names had been deleted erroneously. A forensic audit report by the Auditor General released earlier this year indicated that taxpayers lost Shs80 billion in illegal or questionable payments to more than 28,000 district and other local government workers.

In October 2022, the Education Service Commission reported that the government payroll had more than 1,000 ‘ghost’ teachers who had been on the payroll since 2003. The current audit is expected to streamline staff planning and clarify the wage bill.

While the postponement of staff movements may cause some inconvenience to those who have received notification letters, it is necessary to ensure that the payroll audit is carried out successfully. The results of the audit will provide clarity on the exact number of civil servants and their salaries, ensuring that the government pays only what is necessary and preventing any further losses due to questionable payments.