All education authorities in Colombia will be investigated for potential corruption, the government told local media Wednesday.
Following a recent audit of 15 education secretariats that revealed almost $75 million had been embezzled from school budgets, the government now plans to audit the remaining 80.
Earlier this year, local media reported that corrupt officials throughout the country had invented “ghost” students in order to secure money from the treasury that was then diverted. In a range of tricks used to falsely inflate numbers, the government was not notified when the number of registered students decreased, new students were registered twice or non-existent students were added to the books.
The recent audit found nearly 100,000 “ghost” students registered at Colombian schools.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said, “Just the announcement that there were going to be more audits immediately prompted education secretariats to purge their numbers, saying that they found missing students, that they found inconsistencies, and on their own they discovered another 180,000 ‘ghost children,’ or $125 million.”