Sh1.7bn books stolen in free school shame
Posted Tuesday, February 2 2010 at 22:00
- In some areas, gangs systematically raided institutions and made away with textbooks
Books worth Sh1.7 billion bought with funds from the free primary education programme have disappeared from public schools, according to a government investigation.
The joint UK-Kenya study has established that 5.2 million copies of textbooks have either been stolen or vandalised.
A report of the investigation, issued in August last year, showed that some schools claimed to have bought large numbers of books, which were, however, not in their libraries.
As a result, 5,000 of the 18,000 schools studied were recommended for investigation over their book records.
The investigation was conducted by the Education ministry, Kenya National Audit Office and UK’s National Audit Office.
In some cases, organised gangs raided schools and stole books soon after they were bought.
So bad is the issue that the report noted: “There is a particularly serious problem of theft which needs urgent high level attention.”
In all, 58 million books have been bought under the programme since its start in 2003 at a cost of Sh14.6 billion.
On Tuesday, Education permanent secretary Karega Mutahi said some of the books were lost during the post-election violence in 2008.
Books in schools were either stolen, lost by pupils or destroyed in disasters such as floods and fires, he said.
The PS gave an example of Mt Elgon District where people burnt textbooks.
The PS, whose ministry is under investigation over the loss of millions of shillings through fictitious imprests by officers, said the study revealed that 739 primary schools had bought books under “questionable circumstances”.
“We are taking disciplinary action against the affected schools, including surcharging affected officers,” he said by telephone.
Of the 5,000 schools recommended for investigation, Prof Mutahi said the ministry had cleared 3,200 after establishing that their book records were accurate.
Some 1,500 schools are still being investigated.
Prof Mutahi said that although there were problems in some schools, overall the rate at which books are lost in Kenya is much lower than the rest of Africa.
“Our average consumption rate of 24 per cent is far less than the continental average of 30 per cent per year,” he said.