PROBLEMS OF FINANCIAL RECORD MANAGEMENT BY BURSARS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background of the Study
A bursar (derived from “bursa“, Latin for purse) is a professional financial administrator in a school university; In Nigeria, bursars usually exist not only at the level of higher education or at private secondary schools but, are common at even lower levels of education.
A Bursar is responsible for billing of student tuition accounts. This responsibility involves sending bills and making payment plans. The ultimate goal is to bring all students accounts to a “paid off” status. Bursars are not necessarily involved in the financial aid process. Bursars’ duties vary from one institution to another. At many institutions, bursars deal only with student finances. At other institutions, bursars also deal with some faculty finance issues. Elsewhere, they also oversee accounts receivable, or the payments that the university receives from outside organizations for which it performs services. In some institutions, all money held by the institution is the bursar’s responsibility. Some Bursars (in the Nigeria for instance) also have responsibility for payroll, investments, facilities, IT, HR, Health and Safety and oversight of admin functions at an institution.
Brockington (1993:8) defined financial management as that part of the total management function which is concerned with the effective and efficient raising and use of funds. Okwori (2003) said financial management involves recognition and respect for authorities, regulations and practices governing the receiving, keeping and spending of funds. Kwaghbo (2008) defines financial management as planning, organizing, coordinating, directing and collecting of payments in such a way as to achieve organizational goals. He also stresses that school managers should have sufficient knowledge of financial management techniques in order to be effective financial managers. He added further that financial manager is one who forecasts, plan budgets (involving heads of departments) and executes the budget according to specified estimates that funds are effectively and efficiently used to achieve the desired objectives of the school.
The term record includes all the documents that institutions or individuals create or receive in the course of administrative and operational transactions. The records themselves form a part of or provide evidence of such transactions. As evidence, they are subsequently maintained by those responsible for the transactions, who keep the records for their own future use or others with a legitimate interest in the records, e.g Auditors.
Financial Records Management (FRM) is the supervision and administration of all financial records, regardless of format. Financial Records Management activities include the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records. In this context, financial record is content that documents a business transaction. Documentation may exist in contracts, memos, paper files, electronic files, reports, emails, videos, instant message logs or database records. Paper records may be stored in physical boxes on-premises or at a storage facility. Digital records may be stored on storage media in-house or in the cloud.
The goal of financial records management is to help an organization keep the necessary documentation accessible for both business operations and compliance audits. In some schools , spreadsheets are used to track where records are stored, but larger organizations may find records management software suites that are tied to both a taxonomy and a records retention schedule to be more useful. Mobegi, Ondigi and Simatwa (2012) observed that underperformance of bursars in financial record management resulted from employing less qualified accounting staff. Most of them have only trained up to Accounts Clerks National Certificate (ACNC) which demonstrated very low level of accounting knowledge. They also observed that there is poor record keeping and failure to adhere to accounting procedures. Owing to the rapid expansion of secondary education school in Nigeria, it is significant that all financial record management challenges facing bursars of secondary schools are established. A research by Mobegi, Ondigi and Simatwa (2012) established that Gucha district experienced 47 cases of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds from 2008 to 2009. The posting of excess collection in a specific vote head, say tuition amounts to mismanagement of funds.
Financial record management involves recording, planning, controlling, implementing and monitoring all the activities of school finance including accounting and auditing revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities. It embraces daily cash management as well as the formulation of short-, medium- and long-term financial objectives, policies and strategies in support of the school. Orodho, (2003). Financial management also includes planning and controlling capital expenditure, managing assets, liaising with the treasury and making decisions related to funding and performance.
Good financial record management is critical to the success of any organisation or school, whatever its size and whether or not it is in the public, private or voluntary sector. In the public sector, the rendering of accounts to public scrutiny is key to accountable government. Financial records are produced in every area of financial management of school. If these records not are well managed, the financial management function suffers. Therefore, financial records management and records management are closely intertwined.
Records are essential for financial accountability. Records provide a reliable, legally verifiable source of evidence of decisions and actions about the management of government finance and are the basis for determining responsibility. They are a powerful tool in constraining individuals from engaging in corruption. But if financial records management systems are weak, public servants cannot be held accountable for their decisions and actions. Fraud and corruption will flourish. Records management is a cost-effective restraint. If corrupt officials know that there is an audit trail, they are less likely to take the risk. Conversely, a clear audit trail can protect the innocent from false accusations. Where the ultimate sanction of prosecution is appropriate, lawyers will rely heavily upon records to provide the evidence.
However, records management controls are often missing in government financial control systems. The organisation’s financial instructions and the accounting manual will specify rules for the security and use of financial records. However, these documents tend not to prescribe rules for the management of records. At the same time, financial records are usually outside the jurisdiction of the organisation’s records manager. As a result, this vital resource is not managed or controlled adequately. Failure to manage records can lead to the buildup of unwanted records, overcrowding and disorganisation. This will make it very difficult to retrieve and use financial records efficiently and to carry out the audit process.
Statement of the Problem
Much as Bursars of secondary schools receive financial management training from universities and colleges, there has been a marked increase in their training on management by the Education Management Institute. Despite this increase, secondary school bursars are still exposed to many problems in financial management and little has been done to analyze the problems. This is a serious omission as efficient utilization of resources is critical to the attainment of education sector goals and priorities.
Poor budgeting, delay in disbursement of free secondary education funds, fees defaulting, late payment of fees, and unqualified bursars and accounts clerks compromise the preparation of budgetary estimates and administration and often contributes to financial mismanagement and misappropriation.
The inept training of a majority of head teachers on financial management implies they face challenges in discharging their mandate of supervising and controlling bursars and accounts clerks. Since a majority of the bursars and account clerks have no accounting background, a majority of the head teachers take their books of accounts to pseudo accountants to update them, and to help identify wrong entries and anomalies. The head teacher is subsequently unable to ascertain the income of the school, authorize expenditure, manage the saving and current account, acquire resources, allocate resources and evaluate the implementation of plans.
As internal auditors, bursars are expected to examine the financial statements covering the transactions over a period of time and ascertain the financial position of the school on a certain date. He must assess the need for repair and improvement of the schools physical facilities.
Individual schools affect the lives of thousands of children influencing the kind of education they receive and also the type of career they will follow. If the challenges facing bursars in financial management are not urgently established and managed, opportunities that would have otherwise been available to students to advance academically will become foreclosed. The fact that government expenditure on education has been on an upward trend and there is every indication that this might continue taking into account the rapid increase in population which has led to increased demand for school places, necessitates that the challenges facing bursars in financial record management are established and managed.
Bursars are faced with different problems in course of carrying out their duties this is because there is poor financial record management. However, the following problems necessitate the research topic;
- Poor accounting background of bursars
- Poor internal control system
- Lack of effective and inefficient financial management practices and training
- Delay of Free Secondary Education funds disbursement
- Lack of accounting staff
- Inadequate balancing of books of account
It on this background the research work aimed at identifying problems of financial record management by bursars in secondary schools in Ijero Local Government.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to identify the problems of financial record management by bursars in secondary schools in Ijero Local Government.
The other purpose of the study were to;
- Identify the accounting challenges that bursars face in financial record management in secondary schools
- Determine the budgetary challenges that bursars face in financial management in public secondary schools
iii. Establish the auditing challenges that bursars face in financial management of secondary schools
- Examine the professional competence challenges that bursars face in financial management in secondary schools.
The study raised and attempted to answer the following questions:-
- What accounting challenges do bursars face in financial records management in secondary schools.
- What budgetary challenges do bursars face in financial management in secondary schools.
iii. What auditing challenges do bursars face in financial record management of secondary schools
- What professional competence challenges do bursars face in financial management in secondary schools.
- What are the measures to overcome bursars challenges?
Significance of the Study
Financial records management in secondary schools in Ijero is one of the important administrative task that should be carried out effectively and efficiency. There are a number of problems which make it difficult for effective and efficient financial management. It is noted that the identification of these problems and resultant findings of potential solutions would be of great use to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MOEST). The Ministry may use the recommendations of the study, when conducting in service courses for head teachers to highlight them on appropriate financial records management system, to ensure successful management of school funds.
Head teachers may also use the findings to make necessary changes in the way they manage their school for better utilization of school finances and improved productivity. The findings of the study may also be useful to students taking administration courses at post-secondary school levels in knowing the effects of financial record management challenges in secondary schools. The findings will improve their bursars financial record management skills and help them be better leaders in future.
Delimitation of the Study
The research work is delimited to the identification financial record management by bursars in secondary school in Ijero Local Government. The fact that finances are sensitive, may make the bursars apprehensive and doubtful in divulging requisite information. It may equally be difficult to access information from the audit section of the schools as it is classified.
Definition of Terms
For better understanding of this research work, the following terms used were defined as operationally used in this study.
Record: The term record includes all the documents that institutions or individuals create or receive in the course of administrative and operational transactions.
Financial Records Management (FRM): Is the supervision and administration of all financial records, regardless of format.
Bursars: A bursar (derived from “bursa“, Latin for purse) is a professional financial administrator in a school or university. The Office of the Bursar is responsible for billing of student tuition accounts. This responsibility involves sending bills and making payment plans; the ultimate goal is to bring all student accounts to a “paid off” status.
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