Outrage greeted reports that monies for Free Primary Education had disappeared under the custody of Ministry of Education.
Teachers’ trade unions and a parents’ association want Education Minister Sam Ongeri and PS Karega Mutahi to account for the missing funds, which had been hailed as Godsend.
The leaders urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to take action after they promised to act tough on graft during their Jamhuri Day speeches.
The Kenya National union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kupet) accused Prof Ongeri and Prof Karega of failing in their supervisory roles as graft engulfed the ministry.
“It is disheartening and a fraud on the poor people. All gains made in the education sector will be rolled back,” Knut Secretary-General Lawrence Majali said.
He said the buck stops with Education PS on accounting queries.
Attempts to reach the minister were fruitless as he was holed up in meetings, allegedly trying to unravel the scandal.
Let Heads roll
Mr Majali said the PS and technocrats in the ministry should bring to account those responsible for the fraud. “Let some heads roll. If it is the PS or minister let them be brought to book,” he said.
He said reports of corruption have tarnished the integrity of the ministry and its top officials. He also noted funding under the FPE for each child has remained constant since 2003, despite yearly inflation, and the withdrawal of British money will grossly affect a strained programme.
Kuppet Chairman Akelo Misori said withdrawal of UK funding would affect enrolment at primary school and transition to tertiary institutions.
He said all money should be accounted for and embezzlers investigated and charged.
And the Kenya National Association of Parents Secretary-General Musau Ndunda said Ongeri and his PS should be sacked.
“We need an overhaul of the top leadership of the ministry,” he said on Monday.
The British Department for International Development (DfID) has threatened to withdraw funding for Free Primary Education, following the recent loss of Sh175million at the ministry.
On Friday, British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire said 20 Kenyan officials have been barred from the United Kingdom following the two instalments loss, reported by The Standard on Saturday.
The head of DfID Alistair Fernie said UK funding for FPE through the Grovernment would be suspended until corruption at the ministry is tackled and criminals charged in court. Reports show Sh100 million was stolen or misdirected in June and another Sh75 million unaccounted since September.
We are clean
On Monday, 25 officials who had earlier been suspended on allegations of misappropriation of funds claimed they were being linked to the FPE lost funds yet they never handled it.
The Deputy Director of Education Concellia Ondiek said: “An impression is being created that the 25 officials allegedly disappeared with the funds. That is not true and audit reports can clarify.”