The SA Schools Act 84 of 1996 (SASA) governs the establishment and operations of public schools. Schools must be accountable for the money received from parents and government.
Audit: Section 43(1) requires a governing body of a public school to appoint a person to audit the records and financial statements. This person must be a registered auditor in terms of the Auditing Profession Act 26 of 2005.
Accounting officer: If an audit is not reasonably practicable, the governing body of the school may appoint a CIPC verified Accounting Officer to examine and report on the records and financial statements of the school.
Financial records: Schools must keep proper books and financial records in the a specified format and submit various reports to the SGB, parents and education departments.
The opportunities that require a professional school engagement
Corruption Watch issued a report highlighting the corruption pandemic in public schools. They found that that a total of thirty seven per cent (37%) of corruption allegations related to financial mismanagement.
Some of the root causes for mismanagement in schools were found to be:
- Insufficient documentation;
- Inaccurate financial statements prepared and examined by Accounting Officers;
- Theft of assets;
- Collusion between Principals, School Governing Bodies and Auditors;
- Poor internal controls for compliance with SASA;
- No accounting manuals in place;
- Lack of segregation of duties between bookkeepers and auditors; and
- Changing of audit opinions
Designated SAIBA members can provide a necessary services to all Schools by helping to address the causes of mismanagement.
What SAIBA needs to do
SAIBA is a legislative controlling body for accountants, accounting officers and independent reviewers. As a controlling body we are required to monitor and sanction compliance to standards of member conduct. We perform this function by ensuring compliance by our members to the IAASB’s engagement standards. We perform this function by requiring members to stay up to date with the latest developments in this area. We offer CPD and training courses to help guide members with their everyday challenge in the workplace. We lobby government and SME associations to allocate work to business accountants.
What you need to do
- Know and understand the various laws and regulations that details the Schools financial management obligations. The firm should study any relevant laws, regulations, founding documents or contract terms to determine the qualifications of the persons required to perform the engagement, prior to performing the engagement.
- Advice the school that they cannot obtain advisory and audit services from audit firms. This is prohibited due to the audit independence requirements.
- Free services: Contact schools and offer a free service to analyse and make recommendations on improvement to their financial management systems;
- Paid for services: Offer to provide the following paid for services: bookkeeping, preparing financial statements, assist with tax compliance; improve systems.
- Accounting officer: If feasible issue an Accounting Officer report;
- Audit working papers: If the school needs an audit assist the School to prepare for the external audit, so that they can get a clean audit; and
- Strategic Alliance: Refer the School to a SAIBA approved audit referral firm. This reduces costs and maintains independence as the auditor cannot perform bookkeeping and accounting work for audit clients.
SAIBA has provided a number of guides, videos and PowerPoint slides that will assist accountants with understanding their responsibilities in terms the various types of engagements: