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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid