School corruption, falsified receipts unveiled in Northeast
The Ministry of Education has discovered three new cases of graft involving the disbursement of the state budget among schools in northeastern provinces.
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the irregularities were unveiled as a result of a recent field inspection in 11 provinces set up by his adviser, Lt Gen Kosol Prathumchart.
Mr Teerakiat said the first irregularity was found at Nakorn Ratchasima Primary Educational Service Area Office 5, where a supply officer of the office was found to have used a fake receipt to disburse a budget of 380,000 baht to buy supplies for two schools from a store in Samut Sakhon.
"At present, the officer has been removed from his post and is being investigated by a disciplinary committee set up by the ministry. We suspect there might be more officials involved in this case because a supply officer can't commit this kind of wrongdoing alone," he said.
The second irregularity was found in Buri Ram, where several school directors claimed they were forced by heads of Educational Service Area Offices overseeing their schools to transfer 10% of the requested budget to secret accounts in exchange for budget approval.
"The directors of many schools were told that if they want their requested budget to be approved, they would have to transfer 10% to the heads of Educational Service Area Offices," Mr Teerakiat said.
The third case involves a 279-million-baht project to buy equipment for students in 600 schools, mostly in the Northeast, for occupational training.
The ministry found that several Educational Service Area Offices in the region had requested a budget to buy equipment for occupational training, even though many schools insisted they did not want or need it, the minister said.
"One school director revealed that the [office] had tried to provide a tractor to his school even though the school does not have an agricultural plot on which to train its students. This is just one example," he added. The ministry has already put this project on hold and set up a special committee to look into the matter.
There is clear evidence and witnesses in all three cases, Lt Gen Kosol said, so all officials involved will have to face disciplinary action.
The ministry has ordered the Office of the Basic Education Commission to set up a witness protection programme to protect whistleblowers, he added.
"We have evidence and information ... and suspect a network or high-ranking officials may be involved," Lt Gen Kosol said.