, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – President Mwai Kibaki has reacted to the multi million shilling free primary education funds scandal and ordered swift action against all officials involved.
The Head of State said on Wednesday that the Free Primary education Programme (FPE) cannot be compromised and directed the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) to conclude its investigations fast.
Up to Sh100 million meant for the FPE programme is believed to have been stolen or diverted to other use by senior ministry officials, leading to cancellation of support from the UK government.
And taking the presidential directive, KACC said its probe into the matter would be concluded in the next three weeks.
Acting Director John Mutonyi said the Commission has questioned 29 senior officers and that they were working closely with the Attorney General’s office to ensure appropriate action is taken once the files are forwarded.
“We are working around the clock and infact we shall not break for Christmas or New Year holidays,” Mr Mutonyi said revealing that an investigative report should be ready by mid January.
He said the probe commenced mid November after receiving a report from the Treasury which highlighted the irregularities.
The Audit Report states that the funds were effected through 44 payment vouchers involving 29 senior officers in the Ministry. It further indicates funds were embezzled through fraudulent accounting of imprests purportedly used during capacity building workshops and training sessions.
Mr Mutonyi said the Commission had seized all supporting documents for the surrender of imprests from the Ministry of Education to avoid tampering with evidence.
“The allegation imply that if Sh103 million has been misappropriated by some greedy individuals who have no shame in embezzling funds meant for the innocent children, then at a cost of a Sh1,020 per child approximately 100,000 plus children who were benefit from this fund next year will be denied their right to education.”
The Sh37 million was meant for capacity building but was misappropriated by a team of senior officials at the Secondary Education Department.
Teachers’ trade unions and a parents’ association want Education Minister Sam Ongeri and PS Karega Mutahi to account for the missing funds.
“We cannot attach any criminal responsibility unless it is established through evidence,” Mr Mutonyi said.
23,000 primary schools may go without essential material and equipment when they re-open next year, owing to the freeze. The freeze by the UK Government may affect 8.6 million children enjoying the Free Primary Education programme.
British Department for International Development (DfID) is withholding £10 million (Sh1.2 billion) funding to the programme, citing massive fraud.
DfID insisted that its assistance for the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) will depend on progress made by the ministry to implement recommendations of the internal audit report that had been commissioned, earlier in the year.
The UK, through DfID has been supporting KESSP since 2005. DfID has committed £55 million (Sh7 billion) to the programme from 2005-2010. The government has released Sh48 billion for FPE since inception.