Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC) has called for the immediate removal of state officers, including the Minister for Education, Professor Samson Ongeri and the Permanent Secretary, Professor James Ole Kiyapi whose ministry is implicated in the embezzlement of $ 46.67 million meant for free primary education.
EYC which is an umbrella of 50 civil society organization (CSO) with a mission of ensuring quality basic education for all, challenged President Mwai Kibaki and the Right Honorable Prime Minister, Raila Ondinga to take a divisive action to sack Professor Ongeri and Professor Kiyapi, saying that the ministers were not taking the political responsibility for a huge loss that has led donors to demand for the refund of their donations.
The EYC which was holding a stakeholders meeting cum press conference at Nairobi said there is an urgent need for the minister and his permanent secretary to step aside for investigation, prosecution and restitution as well as “the commencement of domestic and diplomatic engagements to restore honor of the nation, promote public and donor confidence and integrity of the Ministry of Education.”
Mr Mike O’maera, the EYC Acting Coordinator who read the statement on behalf of the 50 CSO’s urged “all the international and development partners to act with restraint, particularly by avoiding interventions that circumvent government or undermine the fundamental responsibility of the state.”
Notwithstanding that the matter in question first came to light in November 2010, Mr O’maera said “and it has been referred to the Police Commissioner, grave matters of Justice and rule of law remain unattended.”
The coalition urged that sight should not be lost of the actual nature, scale and magnitude of the offenses involved. “While it is asserted by the Ministry of Education that less than 100 suspects were involved, none of whom is the highest accounting officer, the sheer sums involved and the level of conspiracy necessary to discharge the crime, suggest otherwise,” he said.
The EYC said they are providing 60 percent of educational opportunities to slum dwellers in Nairobi. They pointed out that millions of eligible children are not enrolled in primary school, and many more millions are yet to be fully emancipated from the yoke of school fees as they remain outside the limits and bureaucracies of the Free Primary Education scheme.
Mr O’maera said explained the impact of the missing education budget:
“The lost $46.67 million, if allocated and spent on education, would help the 3.93 million eligible children who, according to the 2009 census, are presently out of school. It would meet their educational needs for one full year.”
The Tax Payers Association, Mr Martin Napisa said that 95 percent of the Kenyan governmental budget is funded by the taxpayer. Hence, when the Ministry of Education refunded $261.11 million to the treasury while there was still a deficit of more than 28,000 teachers coupled with huge loss of the FPE fund, it left more to be desired.
Mr Napisa said the call to channel money through other means apart from the government is not sustainable. He said the government under domestic and international law, “is bound by its own undertaking to, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, employ the maximum of its available resources, to achieving progressively the full realization, of the right education.”
As the $ 46.67 million storm rages, the Minister of Education has said that he was not in the reign of the Ministry when the money was channelled to ghost schools and individual accounts. On his part, the Permanent Secretary even called for a apology from Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), Director, Professor Patrick Lumumba.