Deputy governor, parents to visit Finland in study abroad scandal

Rodgers Kipruto funeral

Marselo Bursuna (3rd left) and Winnie Chepkosgei (4th left), classmates of the late Rodgers Kipruto, a nursing student of Laurea University, Finland, who died by suicide and was buried at his parents’ home in Chirchir village Kesses, on May 30, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A nursing student from the county took his life in Finland in April, citing frustrations arising from the controversy
  • The county government airlifted at least 202 students to Finland in a controversial study deal
  • The students studying at three Finnish universities have suffered in the foreign country, with threats of deportation over study fees arrears 
  • The county government was implicated in the mess, and EACC is conducting a forensic audit of the programme

Uasin Gishu County Deputy Governor John Barorot is set to travel to Finland to alleviate the suffering on students from the county who are studying at several Finnish universities.

It has since emerged that the county government did not fully disclose details of the study deal before sending the students to Finland, even as efforts are made to salvage the situation after the students were issued with deportation threats for non-payment of fees.

Mr Barorot clarified that the programme was not a scholarship scheme, but the county acted as a trustee to circumvent the requirement for students to produce bank statements as proof of finances.

This comes amid reports that some students have abandoned their studies and returned home following the fee payment scandal involving the county government.

There was no disclosure

Mr Barorot has admitted that those who designed the programme did not disclose all information to parents and students, misleading beneficiaries about the true cost of the entire education.

"It takes over Sh5 million to complete the course and this should have been disclosed to the parents at the outset. We have now told the parents. On my trip, which is now scheduled for September, we will take some parents and ensure that we address all the issues surrounding the programme," the deputy governor revealed.

A nursing student from the county took his own life in Finland six months after landing in the country, citing frustrations abroad over the county government's study agreement with three universities.

Rodgers Kipruto, 27, who died on April 18, was buried at his family home at Chirchir farm in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County this week. He was a nursing student at Laurea University, Tikkurila campus.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor John Barorot pays his last respects to the late Rodgers Kipruto who died by suicide in Finland

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor John Barorot pays his last respects to the late Rodgers Kipruto, a nursing student from the county at Laurea University, Finland, who committed suicide in the foreign country. Kipruto had cited frustrations arising from a controversial study deal which exposed 202 learners to deportation threats from Finnish authorities. He was buried at his parents' home in Chirchir village, Kesses Constituency  on May 30, 2023. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Like Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties have sent hundreds of students to Finland under a similar work-study programme, with both arrangements also turning sour for the learners.

Mr Barorot revealed that he was supposed to travel to Finland in May, but the death forced him and his party to postpone the trip.

"It is unfortunate that we have lost Kipruto who was on a mission to transform society," the deputy governor said.

"As leaders, we must ensure that our students abroad are safe and sound. We believe the programme was well-intentioned, but corruption and non-disclosure of the situation in Finland gave it a bad name. We are now focused on putting this right before we think about sending more students abroad," he said.

EACC probe

Regarding corruption allegations, Mr Barorot said that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is already conducting a forensic audit of the programme and those found guilty would be held accountable. 

"As the EACC continues with the investigation, we have stopped the programme and are now only dealing with those who had paid the fees by November 2022," he said.

"In the meantime, we have held meetings with all Finnish universities not to expel the students, and the parents have opened different bank accounts, which they operate themselves and not through the county as before," he said.

The DG urged the parents to allow the county government to clean up the mess and continue to look for opportunities abroad for the region's youth.

Was a student leader

Ms Winnie Jepkosgei, Kipruto's classmate, described the nurse as a student leader who was jovial and determined.

"All I can say is that there is a price for lying and it will catch up with you in due course," she said.

"In the months I have been in Finland, I have learnt the importance of being truthful. The problems with the fees were a problem for all of us. Although he was outspoken, he could no longer bear the challenges he was facing," said Ms Jepkosgei.

She said fellow students from the county were abandoned once they landed abroad, which drove many of them into depression.