What you need to know:
- The demonstrating parents on Monday issued a five-day ultimatum to the county administration to refund their monies.
- They threaten to scuttle the upcoming devolution conference slated for August 15-19 in Eldoret if the refund is not effected
- The protestors locked the main gate to the governor’s sub-county offices after a contingent of anti-riot police and county askaris arrived to eject them from the premises
Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor John Barorot found himself in an uncomfortable situation on Monday after angry parents from the county confronted him over the Finland education saga.
The scene turned ugly after angry parents demanding a refund of money for school fees following the aborted Canada and Finland study programmes stormed the Uasin Gishu sub-county office in Kapseret on Monday and held the deputy governor hostage as he held a meeting at the office.
The irate parents, waving ‘refund our money’ placards and chanting ‘no refund no devolution conference’ brought business at the office to a standstill, causing a dramatic scene.
The protesters are parents of some of the 202 students from the county who went to study at Finnish universities between 2021 and 2022 in a deal struck between the institutions and the county government.
They are demanding a refund of over Sh300 million for the aborted students’ education airlift programme to Finland and Canada.
A standoff ensued after the protestors locked the main gate to the governor’s sub-county offices after a contingent of anti-riot police and county askaris arrived to eject them from the premises.
They only watched from outside the gate as the parents demonstrated at the governors’ offices demanding an audience of Eng Barorot, who was holed inside the offices with other county officials.
As the melee continued, with the protestors holding their ground, the deputy governor was seen being sneaked through the backdoor to avoid the angry crowd. His handlers cut through the chain link fence at the back of the building to allow the DG to escape before he was driven away in a different county vehicle, leaving his official vehicle outside the offices.
The county government has been faulted over non-remittance of fees to universities in the foreign country, with some students either failing to travel for study, while those who did were stranded at some point in the foreign country due to fee arrears.
The students were later stranded and threatened with deportation after it emerged that the county government, which acted as a trustee, had not paid the full amount of their tuition fees, even though their parents had paid in full into the trust account.
The controversial study programme deal between the Uasin Gishu County government and the universities of Laurea, Jyvaskylla and Tampere is now under investigation, with the Uasin Gishu County Assembly initiating several actions against those involved.
The programme was launched during the administration of former Governor Jackson Mandago.
The students, meanwhile were undergoing a difficult time in Finland after the school fees fiasco came to light, with one of them taking his own life in May.
Rodgers Kipruto, who was a nursing student at Laurea University's Tikkurila campus, was buried at his parents' home at Chirchir Farm in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County in May.
The demonstrating parents on Monday issued a five-day ultimatum to the county administration to refund their monies, failure to which they threaten to scuttle the upcoming devolution conference slated for August 15-19.
The Uasin Gishu County government has since suspended senior officials implicated in the scandal and announced several measures to rescue students facing deportation after their studies were terminated due to fees arrears.
Following an investigation by the county assembly, Governor Jonathan Bii ordered the suspension of the officials pending the conclusion of investigations into the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust Account by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
EACC investigators are tracing more than Sh38 million withdrawn by the signatories of the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust. EACC is carrying out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to ascertain whether the money reached the institutions or was misappropriated, the statement said.
The bank account was opened on 21/05/2021 and parents were asked to deposit money there for school fees.
The first batch of students left the country in September 2021, three months after the contract was signed. Most of the students were studying medicine and
other science courses.
The deputy governor is expected to travel to Finland to meet the students from the county.
It has since emerged that the county government did not fully disclose details of the Finland study deal before the students were sent there.
This comes amid reports that some students have abandoned their studies and returned home.
Mr Barorot has admitted that those who designed the programme did not disclose full 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 be taking some parents and making sure that we address all the issues surrounding the programme," the deputy governor said.