Exposed: How officials looted schools’ millions

What you need to know:

  • Confidential audit report by Finance ministry reveals rot at the highest levels

The full details of the millions of shillings lost through dubious activities at the Education Ministry can be revealed.

A confidential report prepared by Finance ministry reveals that the Kenyan taxpayer and donors supporting education programmes sunk Sh178 million into a hole run by a well-oiled network of senior ministry officials and school teachers.

However, independent investigations indicate that the sums lost run into billions of shillings.

Losses detected

The Finance ministry report entitled: “In-depth Risk Based Fiduciary Review, Kenya Education Sector Support Project”, covers only losses detected in May and June this year, and October last year.

It covered 187 institutions as follows: primary 96, secondary 68, technical colleges 11, special schools 12.

This is a far cry from the actual number of the country’s public educational institutions comprising 20,000 primary, 4,000 secondary, 37 technical training institutions, and 116 special learning centres.

During those three months, the government and donors lost Sh103 million in the form of imprest given to senior education officials for activities that never took place.

In total, 17 senior officials and seven district education officers have been suspended over the sleaze, according to Education minister Sam Ongeri.

Some of the top officials mentioned adversely in the report with regard to the questionable dealings are acting director of secondary education, Mrs C. Ondiek, deputy directors Patrick Aghan, Martin Orwa and E.M. Magwa, senior education officers Kenneth Kabetu, Salome Yatich, Mutuaru Mukindia, Benson Kahara, Petty Kimweli, Omusonga Okwach, and Fredrick Odhiambo.

Others are assistant director of education Francis Kimosop, senior quality assurance officer Thomas Omuga, district education officer Ann Shiundu, senior clerical officer Nyaga Muthuri and ICT officer Paul Odhiambo.

Also mentioned are assistant accountant John Mbogo, and a secretary, Ms Dorothy Ndia, among others.

Another Sh75 million was lost through roll-out of programmes undertaken through an initiative called Kenya Education Sector Support Programme.

Introduced in 2005, the programme gets funds pooled by donors to support Kenya Government backed education programmes. It seeks to eliminate duplication and misuse of funds.

But as investigations reveal, the programme provided a vehicle for siphoning funds.

According to our investigations, the scandal has been running for about four years and the Treasury’s report is just but the tip of the iceberg.
Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission officials, we learnt, have expanded the net to cover those years.

Notably, the Treasury’s report, which was first highlighted by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta in October, formed the basis for which the British Government, a major supporter of Kenya’s education, announced its intention to cut its funding.

The report isolates the levels through which the wheeler-dealers operated, namely at the ministry headquarters, district and school.

In the first place, public money was stolen through fictitious training workshops, hiring of training halls, laptops and other accessories, as well as trainers’ fees.

Other tricks used to milk State coffers were: inflating payments for goods and services, double allocation and disbursement of funds to some schools and alleged implementation of new programmes like school nutrition and mobile schools in the arid and semi-arid lands.

Whatever the case, all those involved in the dubious dealings handed in fake receipts, which were easily accepted by the accounting officers at the ministry headquarters.

Asked to comment on Friday, the minister, Prof Ongeri, and permanent secretary Karega Mutahi, remained tight-lipped, saying they did not want to jeopardise ongoing KACC investigations.

Create confusion

The report also highlights cases where money was wired to schools’ accounts without following procedures. But this was deliberate to create confusion and allow for some fat cats to skim off State largesse.

In those cases, we independently learnt, the schools would receive excess amounts of money, but shortly, thereafter, they would get fresh instructions from the ministry headquarters to remit the excess sums to private bank accounts, minus a small cut for the headteacher.

Contrary to earlier impressions that the scandal affected only free primary education, the fact is that it cuts across the entire length and breadth of the education sector.

But the thrust of the report is abuse of imprest. It emerges that top education mandarins took imprest allegedly to conduct workshops in various parts of the country. But the workshops were never held. To account for their activities, they provided fake receipts and other documents. Through that, a tidy Sh103 million was lost.

The scandal involved the bizarre and the naïve. Some of the schemes were as laughable as they were despicable.

The ministry paid Sh4.2 million for hiring laptops, LCD and public address system for workshops held in seven provinces to train headteachers and their deputies on managing instructional materials.

“All the seven coordinators of the seven regions were allocated Sh600,000 each for hire of laptops and LCDs. It was observed from the various surrenders that the officers attached receipts bearing the standard amount of Sh600,000,” says the report.

“During this period, the ministry had 52 laptops at the store. Verification from some of the venues has indicated that the attached receipts has been forged and the LCD and laptops has been provided by the institutions hosting the events.”

At an Eldoret school, a ‘Mama Uji’ walked away with Sh70,000 for selling porridge to ‘fundis’ putting up a nursery classroom.

An officer who had been given a government vehicle to travel to Mombasa from Nairobi had the audacity to include among the surrender documents a return-air ticket.

Another one alleged to have fuelled a bus belonging to Ramogi Institute of Technology (Riat), Sh24,000 yet the training was residential and nobody had used the bus.

Money also disappeared through new programmes launched by the ministry such as career guidance and counselling, sanitation and deworming, feeding, double-shift learning model, non-formal education, and mobile schools in arid lands and special needs education.