News / Africa

    Millions in Education Money Stolen in Kenya

    Children play in the recreation yard of Ayany Primary school in Nairobi's sprawling Kibera slum in this 04 April 2006 photo.
    Children play in the recreation yard of Ayany Primary school in Nairobi's sprawling Kibera slum in this 04 April 2006 photo.
    This is Part 4 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
    Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
    6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

     

    Kenya’s education sector continues to suffer fallout from the theft of millions of dollars two years ago from a government program that, among other things, funds the country’s Free Primary Education initiative.  Overcrowded classrooms and fragmented programs are some of the results of the theft, cases of which are still in court.

    The Kenya Education Support Sector Program was launched with much fanfare in 2005.  The $5.8 billion program promised to make basic education available to everyone, improve the quality of that education, increase opportunities for post-secondary education, and train education managers.

    The World Bank, Britain’s Department for International Development, or DFID, the Canadian International Development Agency, and the U.N.’s children’s agency threw their support behind the program.  DFID, for instance, kicked in more than $83 million.

    But trouble started brewing towards the end of 2009 with rumors of massive fraud in the Ministry of Education and the entire school system.  By early 2010, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission had compiled a list of some 40 education officials suspected of theft, with a handful already appearing in court.

    Nicholas Simani, public relations officer at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, says investigations and court cases are still going on today.

    "Some of the witnesses are not turning up; some of the witnesses have changed their mind," he said. "We do not know whether they have been coerced into changing their mind or they have given up.  Some of the witnesses have just disappeared.  The more we talk about certain cases in specifics, we are finding that the documentations are disappearing, which means the individuals who are involved are either destroying them or not making them not be available to us."

    Forensic audit

    Last June, the Ministry of Finance released the results of its forensic audit.  It says that a total of $54.9 million had been misappropriated.  About half of that was money meant to build schools in disadvantaged areas of the country such as arid/semi-arid lands and urban slums.

    As details of the massive fraud emerged, all of the donors pulled out.  A statement from the British High Commission in early 2010 announced the end of DFID’s funding for the Kenya Education Support Sector Program.  The statement said DFID would allocate $27.4 million in its 2010-2011 budget for education in Kenya but would disperse the money independent of any government systems.

    And that further erodes the quality of education, says Sara Ruto, regional manager of Uwezo East Africa, a program to improve literacy and math skills among children in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. She says the whole point of the Kenya Education Support Sector Program was to come up with a holistic, unified vision and plans for the entire Kenyan education system.

    "We are going back to the former pattern of fragmented funding, that somebody decides on a project of choice to them.  So you have people doing small things here and there and maybe they are not even talking to each other.  Non-state actors have often gone for what is visible.  You can easily account for a building [more] than accounting for soft issues like training," said Sara Ruto.

    Reimbursing donors

    The Kenyan government has reimbursed donors for the fraud using taxpayers’ money, a move that riles Mwalimu Mati, head of the government watchdog Mars Group Kenya.

    He recalls the government’s promise several years ago to hire primary school teachers in order to reduce classroom sizes - which in some cases are up to 100 students per classroom - and the subsequent teachers’ strike when this was not done.

    "So when they went on strike, they were asking for the hiring of about 20,000 new teachers and the conversion of some of the teachers who were on contract to permanent terms," said Mati. "The total package for that bill was going to be just over four billion shillings ($47.7 million).  I think if we are refunding two-and-a-half billion shillings [$29.8 million], we are basically making it very difficult for the government to be able to hire these new teachers."

    Mati says the Finance Ministry is not saying anything about recovering the money from those prosecuted for the crimes.  He says that, by using public coffers to reimburse donors, the government, in his words, “makes the taxpayer liable to pay for stolen funds."

    Students, first victims of corruption

    Sources interviewed by VOA listed many other impacts of the corruption. The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission’s Simani says corruption harms students the most.

    "Two hundred thousand kids cannot make it to Form One, to secondary [school]," said Simani. "What is going to happen to 200,000 children?  They are just going to be running around?  There is no other system to channel them in.  There is need to look at the entire education system.  Because of corruption, this has limited the choices for these 200,000 people to enter into."

    Uwezo East Africa’s Ruto calls it a "vicious cycle," where teachers sometimes do not show up for class because they are demotivated by the corruption of their headmasters.





    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora