By Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)
What is going on at the Ministry of Education? The amounts as well as the number of discrepancies in the Ministry’s accounts are startling not just because of the sheer enormity the missing/unaccounted for funds, and how long the graft has been going on. But more so because of the long-term implications of such impunity for
- The children who depend on the public system for education, (which lets face it is most of the Kenyan population)
- The teachers who are employed in the pubic school system and how they teach.
- The taxpayers and the donors who pay for the public education system
According to the newspapers an audit conducted by the Ministry of Finance of the Ministry of Education shows:
‘Discrepancies totalling 2.27 billion shillings, which do not tally with the Ministry of Education records and bank account balances’
‘1.9 billion shillings failed to reached 512 primary schools for construction projects’
‘A further 3.1 million shillings was deposited in bank accounts for schools, which did not have teacher service commission codes implying that the schools were not officially recognised.’ The Minister of Finance has also indicated that identifiable individuals later withdrew amounts.
This is not the first time that the Ministry of Education has been implicated in grand corruption:
In 2009 there were reports that Kshs 1.3 million meant for Free Primary Education was misappropriated. Kshs 75 million meant for the School Equipment Production Unit (SEPU) and Kshs. 83 million meant for Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) programmes could not be accounted for.
In 2010 the Education Minister, Samuel Ongeri was suspended for 3 months over corruption allegations.
In 2010 United States government suspended a planned five-year, $7-million capacity building program for the Ministry of Education. In December of the same year the UK government announced that it was withholding a final installment of $16 million of a five-year education-funding program that began in 2005. In both cases the funding was pulled over allegations of corruption in the Education Ministry.
While calling for the resignation of the Minister for Education Samuel Ongeri and his Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyapi (who has expressed interest in running for president in 2012) to resign KACC Head, PLO Lumumba, notes that the Education Ministry currently has 18 corruption cases pending in the Kenya courts.
The Minister for Finance has stated that the forensic trail revealed an attempt to cover up the discrepancy through manipulation of the cash books and that evidence also reveals identifiable individual accounts into which the some of the funds have been funnelled.
Chapter 10 of the Constitution on leadership and integrity is more than just nice words. This audit represents that an opportunity for the government to put in place the appropriate checks, to hold the identified culprits to account, to ensure the return of funds especially where they can be traced and to implement punitive measures that deter and curtail such widespread impunity.
In the meantime it would be interesting to see the full audit report.