COA hits Tesda for giving P15M to ghost scholars

Rappler.com
COA hits Tesda for giving P15M to ghost scholars
(UPDATED) State auditors say the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority failed to verify the identities of 580 scholars supposedly enrolled at the AMA Computer College’s Manila campus and the Technivoc Institute Corporation

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) gave some P15 million worth of scholarships to hundreds of “doubtful or fictitious students,” the Commission on Audit (COA) said in its recently-released 2017 annual audit report.

State auditors said irregularities were discovered among the scholarships of 580 individuals under its P2.415-billion Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP). Of these, 310 were supposedly enrolled in the AMA Computer College (AMACC) Manila campus, while 270 were supposedly enrolled in the Technivoc Institute Corporation (TIC).

The COA said AMACC received P13.65 million while TIC received P1,471,500 from Tesda.

How the ghost scholars were paid: COA said Tesda-Manila failed to verify the existence of these scholars because Tesda’s only safety measure involved assigning one “focal person” to select 5 scholars per batch and call them by phone.

The COA said Tesda-Manila should not have paid billings without first verifying that trainings were indeed taking place.

“The lack of monitoring…opened chances for TVIs (Technical-Vocational Institutions) to submit false reports of scholars and trainings. The TWSP objective to produce skilled graduates to be productive or employable was defeated, instead, put government efforts and resources to waste,” the COA said.

Responding to the COA’s findings, Tesda said it lacked adequate manpower to verify scholars and training programs.

AMACC refunds Tesda: State auditors said AMACC received P13.65 million from Tesda-Manila to train a target of 455 scholars. Each scholarship cost P30,000, with AMACC receiving P10.05 million in 2015 and P3.6 million in 2016.

AMACC said it ended up accepting 310 scholars in 2015 for its “Career Entry Course for Software Developers NC IV using JAVA.”

Of the 310 students AMACC supposedly accepted, 195 were not found as contact details listed were numbers that were either unreachable, incorrect, non-existent, or owned by a different person.

The COA was only able to trace 115 students – 77 of whom were real but were enrolled in the AMACC campus in Fair View, Quezon City, and were taking different courses.

The number is broken down further as follows:

  • 65 students had already graduated and were “afraid that they might not graduate as a repercussion of their actions”
  • 12 students were made to sign attendance sheets, scholarship vouchers, and identification

COA said it found anomalies in the dates on attendance sheets, while the photos of 5 supposed scholars turned out to belong to other students. It also found an AMACC professor’s name was used on one scholarship voucher while the photo of another professor was used for another supposed scholar.

“The documents supporting the paid disbursement vouchers …for the attendance of the 310 scholars claimed to have undergone said JAVA trainings were found doubtful or fictitious,” COA said.

Told of the findings, AMACC said it fired its Manila campus school director and refunded the TESDA P7.8 million in July 2017 and P1.5 million in April 2018.

In a statement on Thursday, August 23, AMACC also said it returned the total amount of P9.3 million to Tesda.

It said the case of AMACC Sta Mesa was isolated and that the AMA Education System “has from then on applied more distinct procedures within its internal processes to ensure stricter audit.”

TIC doesn’t exist: TIC, which received P1,471,500 from TESDA to train 270 scholars in barista and bartending courses, is probably non-existent.

In December 2017, state auditors visited the business address provided by the school at 1679 Tayuman Street, Sta Cruz, Manila. Instead, they found an establishment called “Getz Hotel.”

The COA said the supposed location of the Technivoc Institute Corporation did not have:

  • a signage to indicate the school’s existence as either an occupant or tenant of the hotel
  • training facilities 
  • training materials, supplies, equipment, or tools

Interviews with the hotel’s guard and receptionist also revealed they were unaware of the school and that no training programs were conducted on the site.

The COA said these findings were proof of “the non-existence of the TIC as a training institution.”

In addition to this, the COA also cast doubt on TIC’s claim that mobile training programs were conducted in Barangays 163, 2723, 312, 422, and 423 in Manila. Interviews with residents of the said barangays showed no trainings took place.

State auditors were also unable to locate all the 270 supposed students of TIC. Only 28 were found while the remaining 242 couldn’t be reached through numbers provided.

Meanwhile, 15 of the 28 students located also claimed to have never heard of the school and had attended different Tesda training programs.

Responding to the COA, TIC refuted findings and said it was located inside the “Getz Hotel.” It also said there was a lack of facilities because the hotel was undergoing renovation at the time and claimed the guard and receptionist interviewed by auditors were new and therefore did not know about TIC.

TIC also submitted a list of 37 students who supposedly took the barista and bartending courses. Only 6 confirmed it. – Rappler.com

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