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Education ministry to audit books at Herbert Morrison

Published:Wednesday | February 16, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Paul Adams
Audrey Sewell
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Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE HERBERT Morrison Technical High School in Montego Bay, St James, headed by president-elect of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Paul Adams, is on the education ministry's radar for auditing.

In recent times, there has been controversy about the auditing of two high schools linked to a past and current president of the JTA, Michael Stewart, and Nadine Molloy-Young, respectively.

A reliable source at the education ministry informed The Gleaner that the ministry would be conducting an audit at the school.

It is understood that the institution has been requesting additional funds to pay teachers. The Gleaner has learnt that the number of teachers on establishment at the institution has increased, but it is not clear whether the ministry had granted approval.

Adams told The Gleaner on Monday that he would not comment on plans to audit his school. However, he said: "The Ministry of Education by law, by the Code of Regulation carries out audits in schools, and Herbert Morrison has been audited before and Herbert Morrison will be audited again. Auditing is not something that Herbert Morrison does not look for or look towards."

Last week, a tough-talking Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, signalled that the ministry would not retreat from its responsibility to audit public schools.

She was responding to questions from members of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee in Gordon House.

"We have a case right now where I hear one principal is squealing that the school is to be audited," Sewell noted.

"It is a big thing in the public domain, but we have to do what we have to do."

There has been intense public debate in recent times over the audit of Porus High School in Manchester and Buff Bay High School in St Thomas, with the former audited by the Ministry of Education, while the latter was investigated by the Public Accountability Inspectorate in the Ministry of Finance.

The Porus audit uncovered irregularities in the operation of the school's tuck shop, while the details of the Buff Bay High probe have not yet been divulged.

Questions of a witch-hunt were raised in Parliament more than two weeks ago by opposition member of parliament, Dr Peter Phillips. However, this concern was subsequently dismissed by Education Minister Andrew Holness.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com