WHERE IS OUR MONEY?
In 2003 the government announced the abolition of fees for Primary (elementary) education. Over a million children flocked into school, overloading all resources. Somehow the system struggled through the major growing pains, assisted mightily by donor funds, especially from the UK.
While we were at the Maseno training last week the news broke of huge corruption in the Education Ministry with millions of shillings siphoned off from feeding programmes, books and supplies budgets and --the favourite-- fake workshops for teachers. The UK has halted all donations and parents and schools are panicking about covering the costs for the new school year which starts next month.
The president (who has sat silent through major scandals such as Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing, allowing the perpetrators to continue with impunity) is reported to be furious since the primary education programme was to be his 'legacy', allowing him to be fondly remembered in the history books.
More revelations are coming out by the day and the sum of 9 billion shillings is being mentioned (1 million is roughly $15,000) The first accounts spoke of just a three month period this year where Sh100 million is unaccounted for by legitimate bookkeeping.
-In one workshop Sh 731,000 was claimed for water. This would buy nearly 15,000 bottles.
-Sh 1.5 million supposedly was spent on computers and books at a Nairobi school . The items are not to be found.
-Sh 600,00 was allegedly spent to rent a laptop for a month--total was Sh 4.2 million. During this time the ministry had 52 computers in store. Plus the cost of buying a laptop is around Sh 50,000.
-An officer who had been given a government vehicle to travel to Mombasa from Nairobi also claimed money for a return air ticket.
-Sh 24,000 was claimed for fuel for a college bus, yet the training was residential and nobody used the bus.
-Sh 70,00 went to a fictitious payment for serving porridge to workmen putting up a classroom.
These are but a few examples and the tip of the iceberg. The systematic looting of the funds extends from the top officials in the Education Ministry down to minor civil servants, head teachers and boards of governors.
So far, no one has resigned or been suspended.