UK cuts education aid by Sh300m

Tuesday June 14 2011

Photo/FILE  “We share in the outrage of Kenyans about this, because there is UK taxpayers money involved too,” Mr Macaire (above) said.

Photo/FILE “We share in the outrage of Kenyans about this, because there is UK taxpayers money involved too,” Mr Macaire (above) said.  

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected] and CAROLINE WAFULA [email protected]

The government was on Tuesday put under pressure to rein in corruption within its ranks, with the United Kingdom announcing a Sh300 million education budget cut.

British High Commissioner Rob Macaire said that they will continue funding education, but only through non-governmental channels until the Ministry of Education adopted prudent financial management systems.

This year, the British Government has allocated Sh1.3 billion to fund various educational programmes through these channels.

“It is shocking that civil servants in trusted positions in the government would steal such an amount of money.

“We share in the outrage of Kenyans about this, because there is UK taxpayers money involved too,” Mr Macaire said.

He was responding to fresh investigations by Treasury over a Sh4.2 billion fraud in the Education ministry.

“This should not be allowed, neither tolerated,” he said, adding that the culprits should be prosecuted.

So far, the Department for International Development (DfID) has supplied 320,000 children in slums with textbooks in 1,100 selected schools.

Mr Mike Harrison, deputy director at DfID, said unless financial transactions are electronic, they would not fund the ministry.

“We need some concrete proof that the financial management in the ministry are turned around.

“Electronic money transfer will have to be at the heart of the system unlike today where paper transfer is easily doctored.”

Education permanent secretary James ole Kiyiapi recently said that his ministry had instituted control systems that would ensure that there was no leak in the system and asked donors to come on board again.

“Announcing action is one thing, but acting on the action is another thing,” Mr Macaire said, noting that until concrete financial management systems were actually set up, it would be difficult to convince the British.

At the same time, a House team has demanded an overhaul in the Education ministry following revelation of the scandal.

The Education committee said on Tuesday it was absurd that the money could be lost when children in some parts of the country still learn under trees and temporary structures.

Committee chairman, Mr David Koech and a team member, Mr John Pesa, said that Treasury must put in place measures to recover the misappropriated money and use it for the intended purpose.

“It is not enough to put the reports in the media; we want action and the money should be recovered through whatever means,” Mr Pesa said during a press conference after the committee met over the matter.