Wednesday, October 7, 2009



By Sam Otieno and Beauttah Omanga

Eighteen senior officers at the Ministry of Education have been suspended for allegedly misappropriating Sh37 million.

Sources said only five staff members have been left at the department and are overstretched with preparation for this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams entering the homestretch.

The examinations kick off on October 21.

The suspensions put the Ministry for Education on the spot only weeks after The Standard exclusively revealed another scandal in which books worth Sh1.3 billion, provided by donors that included DfiD, could not be accounted for.

The Sh37 million was meant for capacity building under Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) but was misappropriated by a team of senior officers at the

secondary education department, sources said.

The Director of Secondary Education Mrs Concilia Ondiek, and two senior deputy directors a Mr Orwa and a Mr Magwa are among those reported to be under suspension.

Education Minister Sam Ongeri downplayed the scam and the impact of the suspensions in the ministry’s operations.

"The issue is under investigation but what I can say is that not all the officers sent on leave were involved in the alleged scandal," said Ongeri, adding that preparations for this year’s KCSE exams were progressing smoothly.

He allayed fears that the exercise has been impaired with the suspension of the officials.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) is reported to have taken up the matter and grilled senior staff at the ministry.

The British aid agency, Department for International Development (DFiD) and the World Bank have sponsored KESSP to the tune of $90m (Sh7.2b) and $100m (Sh8b), respectively.

Sources said as a consequence, Treasury froze two World Bank-DFiD-sponsored Education and Special Programmes projects after internal audit reports indicated that Sh131million had been lost to fraud perpetrated by the staff implementing the projects.

School managers

An official who is familiar with the matter but is not authorised to speak for the ministry, said the Sh37 million was earmarked for training secondary school managers on how to utilise a Sh3.1 billion grant meant for infrastructural development.

"However, the funds were misappropriated as the training workshops and seminars were never conducted," explained the officer.

Last week, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta indicated that KESSP, which falls under the Ministry of Education, lost Sh83 million to fraudulent officers.

"We will not relent in our quest to rid corruption and fraud in donor-funded projects," Uhuru said at the time

Three other projects are also under investigation out of a total of 25 projects funded by World Bank and DFiD under the ministries of Education and that of Special Programmes.

The two ministries are also under investigation after preliminary reports indicated that the implementation of the two projects had "raised some governance questions."

World Bank spokesman Peter Warutere said the Education project fraud was unearthed during an investigation by the internal audit unit at the Ministry of Finance.

"As the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance said in his statement, the matter has been referred to KACC for further investigation," said Warutere.