15 December 2010 - Development partners to Kenya’s education sector are asking the Government of Kenya to act swiftly and hand over the names of all Ministry of Education staff implicated in the loss of funds to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation, and subsequent prosecution in the courts.
World Bank, UK’s Department for International Development, UNICEF and the Canadian International Development Agency commended the Ministry of Finance for investigating allegations of fraud in the education sector, which were revealed in September 2009. They urged swift action not only in bringing the culprits to book, but also in rectifying serious problems with financial management at the Ministry of Education, to restore Kenyan taxpayers’ confidence in Kenya’s biggest spending ministry.
'Financial mismanagement in the Ministry of Education appears to have resulted in the significant loss of funds intended to support children’s education in Kenya. As a result, some children will grow up without an education or with a lower quality education than they might have received. This is simply unacceptable', said World Bank Kenya Country Director Johannes Zutt, on behalf of the four development partners.
Ministry of Finance shared draft reports with development partners earlier this month on initial findings of the extended forensic audit. The audit, undertaken by the finance ministry, sought to examine how education funds for the period 2005/06 to 2008/09 were used and managed.
The Ministry of Finance has indicated that documentary justification is not fully in order for expenditures totaling about Kshs 8.4 billion for the four-year period. The audit was not able to obtain satisfactory documentary evidence for spending amounting to about 1.7 percent of the total education expenditure, or 14 percent of the education development expenditure, for the period under review.
Last year in a audit done in July, the Ministry of Finance discovered that KSh 234m of education funding could not be properly accounted for, prompting the nearly concluded in-depth audit, which has unearthed a much bigger financial management problem at Ministry of Education.
"The findings of this report are shocking and completely unacceptable. We will go after every penny of British taxpayers' money that has been stolen and those responsible for fraud must be prosecuted through the Kenyan courts,” UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, said in a statement read on his behalf by the Head of DFID’s Office in Kenya, Alistair Fernie.
“The British Government will not tolerate corruption. I commend the Ministry of Finance for revealing the extent of the financial mismanagement in the Ministry of Education,” he added.
Development partners are also asking the Government of Kenya to fully reimburse them their share of the lost money. Although the education programme receives donor funding, it is primarily financed by the Kenyan taxpayer.
“It is important to Canada that our development funding be used for its agreed purposes, such as improving educational opportunities for the most vulnerable children. Accountability is a key pillar of our work, and we look to the Government of Kenya to put in place mechanisms to prevent a repeat of cases such as this,” stated the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. David Collins.
“The loss of funds in the education sector is very disappointing. It saddens us to see how the joint effort between the Ministry of Education and development partners to achieve equitable access to quality education for the children of Kenya has been jeopardized,” said Ms Olivia Yambi, UNICEF’s Kenya Country Representative.
Development partners reiterated their commitment to continue helping Kenyan children get a quality education. Since the initial fraud was uncovered last year, they all stopped putting funds in the pooled Kenya Education Sector Support Program, managed by the Ministry of Education.
Donors are keen to see fundamental strengthening of financial and information management systems, and stricter management oversight of internal controls at the Ministry of Education.
The forensic audit’s recommendations include setting up new management control and accounting systems, the removal of all existing finance, accounting and procurement staff at all levels in the education ministry, and clarity that the Permanent Secretary accepts overall responsibility for spending under his control.
The Ministry of Education has accepted these recommendations and the donors stand ready to support these efforts through the Public Financial Management Reform Program once a detailed implementation plan has been developed.